The local lefty community paper, the Prairie Dog, posted a story on their blog about the death of Dorothy Alvina Hennig.
Most people in Regina knew Dorothy - at least by sight. Few of us knew, or cared, that her name was Dorothy.
Dorothy was a sight. She would walk around the downtown in a beige trenchcoat with a scarf on her head and far, far too much makeup - far too much and badly done. I don't think she actually lived "on the street," but she was clearly a woman who did not fit in.
My kids and I ended up, uncomfortably, sharing a table with her at a fall supper once. She didn't say a word to us the whole time, not even in response to our greetings. In all the years I was aware of her (I can't really say "knew her") I only once heard her make any sound at all - and then it was an odd sort of screech when she seemed to be thinking that someone was about to steal her bag.
But it turns out that there was more to Dorothy.
- In 1958, Dorothy was the valedictorian of her high school graduating class.
- She studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto - as well as the Walter Thornton Modelling School.
- She worked as a musician and a opera singer in London and Paris.
- Illness (the obituary implies but does not say mental illness) brought her home to Regina in 1967.
Dorothy's death reminds me of my mortality.
Dorothy's obituary reminds me that, for all that I may want to be inclusive and accepting and a proper Christian, I never was able to see Dorothy as more than "other" - to my shame.
I'm off, shortly, to preside at the Ash Wednesday liturgy, to remind those who come and to remind myself that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.
And to remember that, in between, we are God's precious children - no matter what.
Today, I think I shall offer this mass with an intention for the repose of the soul of Dorothy Alvina Hennig, accomplished artist and beloved child of God.