A family affair: Contributing text by Dot’s son (my father) Gregory Crosby, and additional photographs by my brother-in-law Mark Ribiero.
She went by different names
Pickels, Dot, Dottie, Mom, Grandmom, Grandmom Yoohoo, and GiGi
Regardless of the name, the qualities that made her a very special woman were the same.
She was a loving woman full of life, warmth, and kindness. She was a fun, feisty, unassuming woman with an incredibly generous spirit and a heart of gold. A woman of uncommon grace, strength, and resilience.
Dot’s life story isn’t necessarily an easy one. Born when Warren Harding was president and only 3 years after women got the vote, she came into this world 5 years before invention of the refrigerator, and 6 before discovery of penicillin.
She was orphaned at age 5-6, just when the stock market crashed and the Depression hit. Fortunately and remarkably, she was taken in by a kind family down the street. She was widowed at 58 and lived the remaining 35 years of her life without the man she adored.
This must have taken enormous strength, for marrying Jack, whom she met on a blind date, was the highlight of her life. Even in her final days, she called him “the man of my dreams.”
In material terms, she had little, despite working until age 84. She probably would have worked longer if it had not been for the fact that, as a cafeteria worker at Cardinal Dougherty High, she singed her hair while cleaning an oven.
However, she never dwelled on hardship. Instead, she put one foot in front of the other and lived life with a zest, indomitable spirit, and uncommon gratitude. She loved life, especially her family and friends. She went with the flow, embraced change, and was extraordinarily adaptable.
In 2008 Dot came face-to-face with the inevitable. With the help of her family, she moved away from her life-long home of inner-city Philadelphia to an assisted living complex in the nearby suburbs. After packing up the home where she raised her family, Dot gracefully transitioned into a new environment and lifestyle while battling health ailments and newfound loneliness.
Full of Life
Dot was a woman with zen-like contentment with her lot in life. Someone who took enviable joy in the simplest of things. A simple call to her to say ‘hello’ left you grinning, feeling like a rockstar.
In the areas that count, she was the richest woman in the world. She had people she loved, and people who loved her – great, kind, and loyal friends. Dot had life figured out, she knew what mattered and lived accordingly.
I remember her always in curlers, hoping I guess, that the few wisps would turn thick and lush by morning. If she was disappointed the next day, she never let on. She knew the big, flashy things in life—like titles, self-importance, possessions, and lavish trips—were really just little things.
Because of this Dot could relate to anyone. Quick to bend a rule, she was the cool grandparent; kind and loving, but also fun, happy, eccentric, a little crazy. No matter your relation to Dot, her vibrant spirit and approachability made her a peer long before an elder, an authority, or a stranger.
Don't Hang Up
Dot would call and sing Happy Birthday every year, and would apologize if the card sent in the mail didn’t arrive on time.
She ended every phone call with “I love you.” The problem is that she would not hang up, repeating herself, making for long-winded hangups or voicemails.
Now, we celebrate her life and hold this memory close. So, thank you Dot/Mom/Grandmom/Gigi, for everything.
Please don’t hang up. We love you.