On November 4th, 1933, Aunt Dot was born to Kathleen and Robert Phair, joining older sisters Evelyn and Sis, and eventually becoming and older sister herself to Grace.
As her sisters went on to marry and have children, Aunt Dot forged her own path, shining as an athlete and starting what would become a life of service with at risk girls with the Good Shepherds. This work built the start of a foundation of faith that would carry her throughout her life.
Aunt Dot was completely devoted to her family and friends. Many of Aunt Dot's friends became her family. I was told last night at the wake that for many sitting her today, years passed before they realize that "Aunt Dot" was not actually a blood relative. Her nieces and nephews and the generations that followed brought her such joy and laughter. She had this way of making every single one of us feel special with her love and her thoughtful questions about our lives. You truly felt how appreciative she was just to be in your company. When you tried to ask how she was doing, she always answered, "I'm great." and quickly turned the conversation back to you.
Aunt Dot endured many hardships in her life and often lived in pain. Her faith told her that there was a reason for everything. After losing her leg, the Good Shepherd Volunteers from years ago reunited and started gathering again. Aunt Dot told me that losing her leg was the best thing that ever happened to her; that is saved her life because it reconnected her to friends and faith experiences that would go on to be an integral part of her life.
That was Aunt Dot. Perpetual hope. Not only was the half glass full, but ain't we lucky to have a glass? It is hard to explain Aunt Dot to those who didn't know her. I am comforted that all of you understand when I say that she was extraordinary, rare and special. She never complained. She exuded love and faith with every ounce of her soul. Aunt Dot was full of joy. Every day, despite her suffering, she woke up and make a choice time and time again to be happy.
In her last 24 hours, Aunt Dot managed to still give to those around her. She shared laughter, love and her knowledge of life after death. During her anointing, she asked the priest not to pray for her, but for her family. She professed her love for each and every one of us. Hours before her death she exclaimed, "This is the best day of my life." She was fearless in life and death.
In closing, I wrote the following prayer to try and inspire me to be extraordinary.
Aunt Dot’s Prayer
When the world around me is crashing down, when nothing seems as it should,
May I have faith that God is here and find a greater good.
When I’m in despair and one more step I cannot complete.
May I have the grace to just be grateful that I still have feet (or one foot).
May I find hope in the sadness, laughter in the tears.
Generosity of spirit, to pass along the years.
May I see God in all I meet, have faith and pray.
Listen, be thoughtful and grateful for each and every day.
And in my last remaining days, when the temptation’s to be sad,
May I thank God for all the love and joy that I’ve ever had.