Julie Jones & Dorothy Miller

A Tiny Moment - A Powerful Friendship

Dorothy and JulieDorothy Miller & Julie Jones
A Tiny Moment - A Powerful Friendship

by Michael L. Sanz    Photography by Christian Lee

Friendship is truly one of the great gifts bestowed upon us as human beings. Take a minute to think about your dearest, closest friends. Close your eyes and travel back to that special moment when you first met. Did you sit next to each other in algebra class? Did you get caught in a painfully slow line in the grocery store? Were you mixed up in a delicate discussion at a town meeting? Was the connection instantaneous or did it take a little time to warm up to each other? Isn’t it amazing how these meetings have led to the most wondrous, powerful friendships that have energized our lives?

Dorothy Miller is engaging, spunky and loves sharing stories about her life’s adventures. She was born and raised in New York City. However, her connection to the Lowcountry goes way back to her youth. Her maternal grandparents were residents of Hilton Head Island. Dorothy, her mother, and siblings spent her childhood summers with her family on the Island. During the ‘40s, they would get to the island by ferry. “In those days there was only one white family and one other family who owned a car.” Dorothy worked in New York City as a nurse’s aide, while raising four children with her husband. Dorothy is now 84 years old and retired to Hilton Head in 2000. She attends the Baptist church, has sung in the choir and proudly boasts about her two grandchildren and her great-grandchild.  Over the years, her legs have weakened because of a bout with Polio prior to the Jonas Salk era. She visits the Drayer Physical Therapy Institute three times a week. In April of 2016, she was lying on a table listening to her therapist. “Dorothy, I’m concerned that you are not getting to all your appointments…”

Julie Jones and her husband Bob arrived on Hilton Head 19 years ago via Indiana, Washington D.C., and New Jersey. They have raised four children. Julie is quiet, articulate, generous, and really enjoys a good laugh. Since taking up residency on Hilton Head, Julie has worked as an office manager for an environmental consulting firm, a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and as distribution manager for Pink Magazine. She’s had a couple of physical misfortunes when a fall crushed her hip and more recently when she broke her collar bone. The hip injury led to numerous hours of doctor’s appointments and physical therapy sessions. It was difficult for Julie to carry a normal work load. It was the collar bone that brought her to the Drayer Physical Therapy Institute in April of 2016. She was lying on a patient table and overheard a therapist talking to a woman lying on the adjacent table. The conversation centered on the woman’s struggle getting to her appointments…

Admitting, she was nosy, Julie listened in on the conversation. A woman, Dorothy wanted to get to her therapy sessions but sometimes there was no ride available. The non-profit organization, Family with Wheels had been very helpful, but now there weren’t as many drivers available. A cab ran about $22.00 round trip, which really added up for three trips a week. Never considering it a big deal, Julie said, “I have to come here three times a week, so I’ll drive you, Dorothy.” That tiny moment with an opportunity to connect has led to a wonderful bond. Julie and Dorothy have become the closest of friends.

As the three of us chatted over lunch I listened to the two ladies, who have only known each other for nine months, banter, chatter, joke and share like they had been the best of friends for a lifetime. Dorothy looked towards Julie and vividly expressed, “She is my right arm. She helps me stay focused on my exercises. She is a godsend. She is my incentive to get out and breathe!  Dorothy was laughing about how the two could share and laugh about anything. The topic of alcohol came up. Dorothy smiled brightly and said, “I’m a good church- going woman, but on occasion I like to have a Pina Colada.” Telling it like it is, she finished up with, “There’s no shame with my game.”

Julie’s response was so unassuming and thoughtful. "Dorothy has done so much for me in terms of friendship and companionship. We talk on the phone for hours. What I’ve learned is that we face the same struggles and have experienced similar joys. Age difference and color don’t matter.” Both ladies agree they have found a friend for life. It’s the real deal. Between answering questions and enjoying lunch, little jabs are shared that are a tell-tale sign of a truly tight friendship. Talking about the drives, Dorothy quips, “I should pay you for gas…no…I’ll just keep making you my sweet potato pie.” Julie responds, “That and the cheesecake…she actually pays me in belly laughs.”