16 March, 2011

Rerun: Happy Birthday Nana

This is a post I ran on May 14th of last year. Due to popular demand, and a campaign waged by ADG over at camp Maxminimus, I am re-running it in honor of my 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...XXOO


  1. I remember this from last year - delightful then and now! xoxox

  2. Since I was a teenager, and have always been a writer, I have always been in charge of family obituaries. I want you to know, however, I cut this out from the earlier time you published it and it serves as a model for my own, should I meet an early demise. Sorry Uncle Dave - you should have copyrighted it. ;)

  3. I really enjoy your blog! I've just created my own-- inspired by bloggers like you. Please stop by and check it out. Feel free to follow or leave any tips you have for successful blogging!

  4. Thank you! I read this when you
    posted it before and thought I saved it but couldn't find. Hope
    you are having a great time and
    getting a killer tan to be ready to start the summer.

  5. We all have had someone special in our lives but it seems that the "kind,loving,tongue-in-cheek" matriarch usually is the one who leaves a lasting imprint on our lives. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Love you and your Nana and I have no doubt that Nana and Nanny are up in heaven behaving baaaadly and discussing all things Irish and Catholic and philanthropic and sassy! Another piece in the puzzle of why we're long lost PTH bffs too ;)



  7. "Absent former heiress" is one of the best phrases EVER.

  8. omg for real?! thats INSANE, I love it!

  9. Loved it! That was one of the funniest pieces of writing I have ever read.