Mary Sowatzka

Before I started making and collecting dolls, I never imagined how they could touch my life. Because of my love for dolls, I have met many people who have become very special to me. One person in particular is Old Dorothy.

When I started teaching doll classes, she had already been coming to classes for a few years. Dorothy came every Thursday, never missing a class. She was in her eighties when I met her.

Every Thursday she would show up promptly at 10 a.m. and sit in her place at the end of the table. She’d wait patiently for us to notice when she needed help. She would listen to the other women talk and complain, and she’d laugh to herself when their stories were funny or risque. When lunch time rolled around we’d order from a local sub shop. She’d always order a vanilla shake.

A shy, quiet lady - I never heard her complain or speak ill of anybody. It always brought a smile to my face when I’d see her walk through the shop door.

Somehow, she always remembered the special occasions. The day before I started college, she brought me a “Good Luck” balloon and a wonderful card. I still have them both.

One birthday, she gave me a plaque that said “When I count my blessings, I count you twice.” That was just the way Dorothy was - always caring, always thoughtful. That was what touched me most about Dorothy.

It wasn’t until I was able to talk with her daughter, Lois, that I realized how much our doll making classes meant to Dorothy. In her weekly conversations with Lois, Dorothy would re-tell all the stories she’d heard in class. Through her mother’s stories, Lois came to know us and regard us as friends.

Lois told us how doll making rescued Dorothy from a nursing home, how it gave her a reason to get up and get out of the house, how her Googlies made her laugh, and how her house was full of not only the dolls she made, but those she rescued from garage sales and auctions. She’d had a tough life, spending most of it caring for her children and husband.

It got difficult for her after her husband’s stroke and the loss of his sight. When he died, it was almost too much for Dorothy to bear. She ended up in a nursing home.

Because of the doll classes, Dorothy once again had a reason to live. She was creating beautiful dolls, and she was winning awards in the local doll competitions.

.... That was the Dorothy I knew and loved. Without our mutual love for dolls, we would have never met. Through doll making, Dorothy found a reason to go on for many years beyond what the doctors predicted, and through doll making, I found a friend who will be in my heart forever.

She’s been gone a year now, but when I count my blessings, I still count Dorothy twice.