Her Final Years (Age 57 - 71 years)
My Dad’s death in 2002 was difficult for both Doti and I, just as our mother’s passing had been for us a few years earlier. More than anyone I ever knew, Doti spent a lot of time thinking about her family members, both living and passed, and the three most important people in Doti's life were now gone: her son Myles, her Mom and her Dad. Outwardly she often dealt with their passing in an almost matter-of-fact way. In fact, she could seem pragmatic and even stoic when she talked about them. That’s probably because she believed that all three were with her all of the time. Inwardly, however, I knew that the losses had affected her deeply. Just as my Dad had lost the sparkle in his eye after my Mom passed away in 1999, the same is true of Doti after my Dad died in 2002.
I stayed in Sudden Valley for a while, living with her in the house while working on various projects, then I went back to work in 2004 and moved to Seattle (and then Portland in 2006). But several times each year, I came up to Bellingham to visit Doti. As she got older, she became a bit more reclusive and withdrawn, which happens to many people as they age, so our visits became less frequent. And in her final years her health began to decline more noticeably. Although the large family get-togethers tapered off, Doti and I spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas (her favorite holiday) together, as we had almost every year of my life. Our time together was precious and she often called me her “super-brother.”
Doti loved Sudden Valley and told me many times how fortunate she was to live there. She especially loved being amidst nature. Almost every day she would walk along the wooded trails while savoring the towering trees, the beautiful skies, the numerous deer and the other creatures. She could find joy in the tiniest aspect of nature: a raccoon’s footprint, a small leaf or a bird’s feather. And she’d made many good friends in Sudden Valley, each of whom were very important to her. She never wanted to leave Sudden Valley, and she never did.
These are the last photos I have of Doti. Though her health declined in her final years, her warmth and her loving, joyous and compassionate spirit never changed. She will be greatly missed.