Sunday, May 08, 2011


Lovely Lady
    dressed in blue,
Teach me
    how to pray!
God was just
    your little Boy,
Tell me
    what to say!

Fayetteville is a village in Brown County, Ohio, founded in 1818 by an Irish immigrant named Cornelius McGroarty. You can see in this photo looking south, at the convergence of US 50 and US 68, what little there is to show for it. In 2000, the population was 372, but in 1950, it wasn't much less than that. If you look toward the horizon, you cannot see the farm where Dorothy Ann Rosselot was born and raised, but it's there.

She was a middle child, one of seven sisters and four brothers. She was driving a tractor and pitching hay when she was twelve, and no one ever accused her of shirking hard work. But when she finished high school, having just turned eighteen, she couldn't get away from the farm soon enough. She made her way to Dayton, where she took a job as a clerk at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

She did not escape without notice. You can see her here in the graduation picture, placed third in the top row, the salutatorian in a class of seventeen. If you look in the lower left hand corner, you will see a handsome young man who taught English and Latin -- when he wasn't driving the bus or refereeing basketball games; this was definitely a low-overhead enterprise -- a twenty-four year old ex-seminarian named Paul Alexander. A few weeks after graduation, he got up the nerve to ask her out on a date, swearing to this day that he harbored no such intentions while she was a student.

They were married two years later.

Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently, on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world:
O! And did he cry?

As I recall, Dad took care of most of the storytelling, if there was any. But in the days when "new math" determined how long division was taught in the third grade, Mom was the one who taught me the short cut. Occasionally, I forget to use a calculator in favor of it. And although we were left for most of the year to say our night prayers by ourselves, it was Mom who led us in the Rosary in October, and the Litany of Loreto (the one with the many titles bestowed on Our Lady) in May.

She never spent a day in college -- even her mother graduated from "normal school," which is what they called teachers' colleges back in the day -- but she had a highly disciplined mind, which makes this biologist's tribute to motherhood all the more appropriate. (CONTENT ADVISORY: Lots of big words.)

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things --
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels' wings

Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me for you know!

For a girl who left the farm at the first chance, she was still getting up "with the chickens" at about five in the morning, until about ten years ago. Dad has been slowly deteriorating, having been diagnosed with multiple slcerosis at 45. And now, at 85, he requires around-the-clock care. Mom hasn't been feeling too sprightly herself lately. In recent years, my sisters both see to their care, with my brother managing their affairs, and maintaining the upkeep of the house. From a distance of five hundred miles, I just stay out of the way and keep the damage to a minimum.

Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy,
And you know the way!

Whatever the demands, there is no mistaking who is in charge. Here's to you, Mom. Keep it up.

(Poem by Mary Dixon Thayer. H/T to Patricia Alexander Drybala for obtaining the graduation picture.)

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