14 May, 2009

Happy Birthday Nana

Since the 14th of May is my late Nana's birthday, I thought I'd share her infamous obituary with you. Written by my mother's brother, my Uncle David, it debuted in Raleigh's News and Observer but soon gained international notoriety.

The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC:
ON JUNE 3, 2005 at 10:45 p.m. in Memphis, Tennessee, Dorothy Gibson Cully, 86, died peacefully, while in the loving care of her two favorite children, Barbara and David. All of her breath leaked out.

The mother of four children, grandmother to 11, great-grandmother to nine, devoted wife for 56 years to the late Ralph Chester Cully and a true friend to many, Dot had been active as a volunteer in the Catholic Church and other community charities for much of the past 25 years.

She was born the second child of six in 1919 as Frances Dorothy Gibson, daughter to Kathleen Heard Gibson and Calvin Hooper Gibson, an inventor best known as the first person since the Middle Ages to calculate the arcane lead-to-gold formula. Unable to actually prove this complex theory scientifically, and frustrated by the cruel conspiracy of the so-called "scientific community" working against his efforts, he ultimately stuck his head in a heated gas oven with a golden delicious apple propped in his mouth. Miraculously, the apple was saved for the evening dessert. Calvin was not.

Native Marylanders and long time Baltimore, Kent Island and Ocean City residents, Ralph and Dot later resided in Lakeland, Florida and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Several years after Ralph's death, Dot moved to Raleigh in 2001, where she lived with her son, David.

At the time of her death, Dot was visiting her daughter, Carol in Memphis. Carol and her husband, Ron, away from home attending a "very important conference" at a posh Florida resort, rushed home 10 days later after learning of the death. Dot's other children, dutifully at their mother's side helping with the normal last minute arrangements - hospice notification, funeral parlor notice, revising the last will, etc. - happily picked up the considerable slack of the absent former heiress.

Dot is warmly remembered as a generous, spiritually strong, resourceful, tolerant and smart woman, who was always ready to help and never judged others or their shortcomings. Dot always found time to knit sweaters, sew quilts and send written notes to the family children, all while working a full time job, volunteering as Girl Scout leader and donating considerable time to local charities and the neighborhood Catholic Church.

Dot graduated from Eastern High School at 15, worked in Baltimore full time from 1934 to 1979, beginning as a factory worker at Cross & Blackwell and retiring after 30 years as property manager and controller for a Baltimore conglomerate, Housing Engineering Company, all while raising four children, two of who are fairly normal.

An Irishwoman proud of and curious about her heritage, she was a voracious reader of historical novels, particularly those about the glories and trials of Ireland. Dot also loved to travel, her favorite destination being Eire's auld sod, where she dreamed of the magic, mystery and legend of the Emerald Isle.

Dot Cully is survived by her sisters, Ginny Torrico in Virginia, Marian Lee in Florida and Eileen Adams in Baltimore; her brother, Russell Gibson of Fallston, Maryland; her children, Barbara Frost of Ocean City, Maryland, Carol Meroney of Memphis, Tennessee, David Cully of Raleigh, North Carolina and Stephen Cully of Baltimore, Maryland.

Contributions to the Wake County (NC) Hospice Services are welcomed. Opinions about the details of this obit are not, since Mom would have liked it this way.

As you may see, I do indeed come by this honestly, for the tongue-in-cheek apple doesn't fall far from the tongue-in-cheek tree...


  1. What strong and vital stock you have in your genes.
    I always admire women who live life to the fullest and when given apples, make pie or sauce or cider. Seems she had a propensity for making many things, and sharing a full life.
    I know you must miss her and think of her often.
    Grandparents are the best!

  2. Hilarious~ I love it. Nice to see the humorous side of someone that has obviously led a full, exciting and adventuresome life.

  3. That is hilarious and wonderful.

  4. Why is it that when this was so hilarious that it made me cry? Maybe because I know it is so obviously written in love, and so moving. I just wonder, Did Nana die laughing? It wouldn't surprise me one bit. And yes, after reading this obit, I definitely understand where you cone from, which I hope that doesn't offend you - it's just that it sounds exactly as if you wrote it. Love to you, and thanks for sharing.

    Her obit let me know exactly what kind of fun person she was.

  5. OMG - I wish wish wish i were related to the person who wrote this! That is HILARIOUS.

  6. OMG, HC (Holy Cows) and YSBGE (Yikes Stripes, Beachnut's Got Em)! What a story! Can it be so? Can such a marvelous woman of such famous and admiral heritage beget such wasteful wretches? Oy, the very thought of spoiled, irreverent and dissing younguns spewing such nonsense on the very demise of their caring and loving Mum - that even a blessed Irish mother could not forgive? And Catholic yet. Hail Mary, Mea Culpa, etc...

    Otherwise, I thought the obit thing was peachy keen and I do so look for more of the same from whoever writ that up. Go Hoyas! - whatever they really are.

  7. Looks like you didn't have to wait too long "anonymous"...that Hoya remark reeks of Tiger breath

  8. I followed you over here from MCM's blog, and I'm so glad I did! This is truly, heartwarmingly, laugh out loud funny.

    I can't wait to catch up on your old entries.

  9. That was great, thank you for posting it...and yes I too believe your Nana would have enjoyed it to.