The stories you tell
By Suzanne Rent 14 November 2016 Share this story
Take Dorothy Grant. Dorothy has written for this magazine for a number of years. She has a long background in the media, working with CBC, including stints as a researcher, reporter, and producer. She moved on to a role in public relations with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia. Now 81, she continues to pitch stories, digging up historical bits of trivia about Bedford.
Like many writers, Dorothy had a book brewing in her mind. She published her first book, Amazing Medical Stories, along with fellow writer, George Burden, in 2003. But Dorothy’s most recent book, Turn the Other Cheek, was inspired by another amazing medical story.
While she was working with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia, Dorothy received a letter from a woman. She sought help in tracking down her medical records. Dorothy helped Charlotte get those records back, and in doing so learned Charlotte’s story. She was born was a hemangioma, a benign tumour of blood vessels that formed a red birthmark on one side her face.
That birthmark eventually took Charlotte to Europe during the Second World War where she received surgery from a renowned plastic surgeon, who operated on pilots. Charlotte spent time in Europe as part of a Halifax-based choir of singers that entertained the troops.
Through her travels, Charlotte met celebrities such as baseball star Babe Ruth and opera singer Portia White.
Charlotte is now 95, and still active in her community. “She said ‘I’ve been very private,’” Dorothy says of Charlotte, “but she shared everything with me.” Charlotte still loves music and plays piano and accordion at local seniors’ homes.
“She’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met in my career,” Grant says. “Her stories are incredible.”
But Charlotte’s story is also helping Dorothy share her own story. Proceeds from Dorothy’s book will go to the David Grant Memorial Fund at the IWK Health Centre. This fund is to honour Dorothy’s son, David, who died in 1984 after a battle with a rare neurological disease called adrenoleukodystrophy. David spent one year at the IWK receiving treatment. Money raised for the fund goes toward helping children with neurological conditions, and their families.
“The book has not only made me share an amazing woman’s life but it’s also through my dead son,” Dorothy says. “It’s reached out and done something very good.”
Dorothy says the writing of this book also taught her about her own perseverance. “My heart goes out to other writers,” she says. “I am much more empathetic. I think I thought to myself, ‘Don’t give up.’”
The Bedford Library hosts a book launch for Turn the Other Cheek on Nov. 26. I recommend you stop in, meet Dorothy, and hear more of hers and Charlotte’s stories. You will learn so much, as I have.
As always, if you have feedback or ideas for our magazine, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.
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