I’m a hell of a lot richer than Donald Trump.
The lady on the right in the photo is my grandmother, Dorothy Keeter. The lady on the left is Mrs. John (Ada) Self. I grew up under the same roof as my grandmother and Mrs. Self was there several days a week to help her out. They were both present in my life from my earliest memories until I left home to go to college at Appalachian State.
My older brother, Sonny, couldn’t pronounce “Dorothy” when he was a child, and it came out of his mouth as “Dot-tee.” She tried to get us to call her grandma or granny or mamaw, but she was forever Dottie to us and all of our friends. Dottie and my grandfather divorced long before I was born and she took the “until death us do part” vow literally. I never knew her to ever entertain the notion of a second romance. Mrs. Self’s husband passed away when I was kid and I don’t think she ever entertained the idea of finding someone new either, although she joked about her and Dottie finding themselves “a couple of little old men” they could run off with.
To say that I was “spoiled rotten” is an injustice to the term “spoiled rotten.” From kindergarten until junior high, Dottie drove me to school and was waiting to pick me up when the bell rang, even when I was in grade school at Marion Elementary just a driver, a 3-wood, and a 5-iron from our house.
Dottie and Mrs. Self were both small in stature. When I was grown, I could extend my arm horizontally to the ground and they could stand under it. They were, however, giants in character.
Mrs. Self made the best pound cake in the world. She died in 2004, but until then, when my wife Lisa and daughter Ashley and I would go home to Shelby to visit and Mrs. Self knew we were coming, she would bake us a pound cake to take back with us. We’d take it home, put it in the freezer, ration it out in small slices that we’d brown with a butter and sugar coating, and lament the day when the final piece was gone. Mrs. Self was a fantastic southern cook and would make me nearly anything I asked for, but she would caveat it with, “I’ll fix it, but you’ve got to eat it because there are children all around the world that don’t get enough to eat and gluttony is a sin.” Lisa and Ashley can attest to the fact that at the age of 61, I still never leave food on my plate. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to ignore Mrs. Self’s admonition and risk an eternity in hell over some uneaten string beans, and I’m still not willing to take the chance. When she died, I packed my dress blues and went back to Shelby for her funeral. I probably didn’t make it back home as often as I should have when family and friends passed away, but I was going to be there come hell or high water to pay my respects to one of the two finest people I will have ever known.
Dottie played the piano for the five-year-old Sunday school class at the First Baptist Church of Shelby and she was there almost every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night for prayer meeting. She died in 1988 and the beginning of the end was a stroke she suffered while she was at church. Spending her last good moment in the Lord’s House is probably exactly the way she would have wanted it. She was one of the few women of her age who drove a car, so she was the taxi service for her friends to get to church, doctor’s appointments, the garden club and other events. My mom and dad divorced. Even though Dottie was my mother’s mom, she and my dad lived under the same roof until he died in 1983. My mom left my dad, and Dottie really believed that vows were forever, so she was there for what was literally her ex-son-in-law until his final day. My dad was a 100 percent disabled WWII Vet, and Dottie took care of him because he kept his vow and, in her eyes, he got the raw end of the deal.
I took it for granted back then, but having Dottie and Mrs. Self in my life made me a lot richer than Donald Trump. The fact that I was loved was something I never had to ponder, because I was literally smothered in it. If you are a Game of Thrones fan you know what the term “Hodor” means. If any harm had ever come my way, Dottie and Mrs. Self would have Hodored until their final breathes in order to keep me safe. I’d give anything to have a minute with them now to tell them how much their love means to me. They loved me without question or compromise, and even when I was not lovable.
I haven’t always made the right decisions in my life and I wish I could turn back time for some do-overs, but to this day when I face a tough choice I often pause and consider, “What would Dottie and Mrs. Self think if they knew what I’m about to do?”
I don’t think Dottie and Mrs. Self would take kindly to separating families, putting children in cages, taking food away from the hungry or turning away the sick and oppressed. You didn’t have to check their Twitter bios to know that they were Christians … you saw it in how they lived their lives every day they enjoyed here on this earth. The world would be a much better place if we had more Dottie’s and Mrs. Self’s.
I’d didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I surely do now: I’m a rich man because I had two strong, determined little women who served as my North Star.
To support Moe Davis in his campaign to win Mark Meadows’s seat in Congress, please go to moedavisforcongress.com and donate.
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