Dorothy Smith was everyone's grandma.
Her arms were always open and her gracious heart was always
welcoming -- be it her daughter and her friends or granddaughters and
Dorothy's cookie jar was always filled to the brim with fresh
oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies and everyone knew the "routine"
when they walked in the door. They grabbed a cookie, took the glass
of milk she handed to them and sat down to talk.
To Dorothy, the generation gap was as good as a myth. Her favorite
movie was "Pretty Woman." She had no time for old, sentimental
movies. And the kids who came to her home loved that.
She was this cool grandma they never had. She always lent a
sympathetic ear. She never ever judged them. And just one tiny smile
from her and one look at her kind, twinkling eyes was enough to melt
their teenage troubles away.
Even on the phone, the person on the other end could see her
smiling, because they heard the warmth in her voice and felt the love
in her tone of speech.
Dorothy was born in Alhambra, Mont., 86 years ago. Her late
husband was a plasterer. The couple knew each other since they were
children. When they got married, he was 20 and she, 18. The couple
moved to Costa Mesa in 1952 and they stayed married for 50 years.
Dorothy didn't come from money. But she always looked great. Her
nails were done to perfection. So was her hair. She had impeccable
Dorothy and her husband always enjoyed going camping and fishing.
But it wasn't until she was in her 60s that Dorothy actually took up
fishing and started enjoying it. Even as she fished in the wild,
she'd wear lipstick, high heels (she even wore them at home), a
pressed dress -- and a fishing vest on top of that.
Her favorite getaway, however, was Las Vegas. Dorothy loved the
glamour and excitement. She saved her quarters, waited for a chance
to head to the slot machines and relished the possibility of scooping
up the jackpot.
For more than 25 years, Dorothy worked at the Automobile Club of
Southern California as a cashier and later, as a claims adjuster. The
man who was then her boss called Dorothy every year on her birthday,
even 20 years after she had retired.
Despite work, Dorothy always had time for home. She enjoyed to
cook. She made good, old-fashioned American food -- ham, green beans,
candied yams. Her orange-cranberry relish was always a big hit during
the holidays. Never one birthday in the family went by without
Dorothy baking a delicious cake.
Dorothy was also famous in the family for her beautiful crochet
work. All the girls in her family still have and treasure the
gorgeous afghans she made for them.
Dorothy had a penchant for collecting spoons. Anyone in the family
who took a trip to anywhere in the world brought her back a
collectible spoon. She had close to a hundred spoons. She also liked
to visit thrift shops. She occasionally bought lamps or end tables,
but often she would just look at the knickknacks.
She was a good neighbor. She was active in community
organizations, especially those that helped children in need.
As for her family, they always knew where to look when they needed
a few words of encouragement. Dorothy was always honest and never
minced words, but her frankness and straight-talk had positivity,
which was refreshing.