A year after the shooting took place near Ina and Oracle roads at Gabrielle Giffords’ Congress on Your Corner event, some continue to grieve, some choose to forget, while others quietly remember, and stay out of the public’s eye.
Northwest resident George Morris was waiting in line with his wife Dorothy “Dot” to talk to Giffords last Jan. 8. George did not support Giffords or her political views, and was there “to ask her some questions I knew she wouldn’t be able to answer.”
There was also Mavy Stoddard who, while out getting breakfast, waited in line with her husband Dorwan to thank Giffords “for getting out among the people and actually acting like she really cared…and doing something.”
But neither Dot nor Dorwan would leave that shopping center alive. Dorwan was killed saving his wife, and George reacted as quickly as he could, but not before his wife was killed.
Both George and Mavy were shot multiple times, George in his back and Mavy in the legs. A year later, the two have come out the tragedy stronger, and continue to have an optimistic outlook on life.
George, who was in the Marines, fondly remembers his wife and the 55 years he was able to spend with Dot, his almost-high school sweetheart, as he put it.
“She was a great mother, I couldn’t have had a better friend, lover, and mother,” George said. “In all of the years of our marriage, I never strayed because she was far better than anything out there. Divorce was a word we never understood.
“We lived a life of 100 percent/ 100 percent. It was not a 50/50 marriage. It was 100 percent/ 100 percent and every single day of our lives we told each other how much we loved each other. Probably 50 or more times a day. She was my best friend. She was my everything.”
Every morning George would bring Dot a cup of coffee and each night they would sit down together and have a glass of wine before dinner.
“She would look over at me with the most beautiful smile and she always would say ‘What?’ because I would be staring at her smiling. I would say, ‘You know what? I love you so much. There aren’t words that can describe how much I love you.’”
George has chosen to stay out of the spotlight for the past year. He criticizes Giffords for declining security at her event, and also criticizes her husband, Mark Kelly, for leaving his wife’s side while undergoing brain operations.
“You don’t need to go out there and pat yourself on your back. You don’t need to write books about what a great marriage you have when you have been divorced, like Gabrielle’s husband, and keep seeking the spotlight,” said George. “We didn’t need that. We had each other and we had a lot of love that a lot of other people will never ever come close to experiencing.”
Mavy, who was married to Dorwan for 15 years, lost the most significant part of her life that day.
“I lost the most important thing in life to me, as far as here on Earth is concerned,” Mavy said. “And my family did too because he embraced my whole family when we got married 15 years ago, like they were his, and they felt like they were. They called him dad and grandpa – everything they would have called someone they had known all their lives.”
Mavy was shot three times in the legs. Due to infections and surgeries, she wasn’t completely well from her injuries until five months after the shooting.
“I am healed physically, but I don’t know if you ever completely emotionally get healed,” she said. “If you really were in love with that person, as I was with (Dorwan), and he with me, and made each other complete, you never get over that love. You just learn to put it somewhere. You have to decide when something like that happens, that world has just ended. You can just sit and do nothing and be miserable, or you can get up and build life. That is what he expected of me, and I guess that is what I expected of myself, and I am trying to do.”
Dorwan was the kindest and most patient man Mavy had ever met in her life.
“He wanted everybody to be happy and his greatest fulfillment in life was to make me happy,” she said.
Mavy said Dorwan loved God, his wife, his family, his dogs, and he loved to go fishing.
The two traveled 92,000 miles in their RV through all of the United States and most of the Canadian provinces. The couple traveled to Alaska and Hawaii. They also made it to 28 foreign countries together.
Though she can fondly look back and laugh, it wasn’t fun learning to drive on the other side of the road outside of Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom.
“He was very confident in his driving, and the first or two roundabouts we found,” Mavy laughed, “Those were a hard two, but it didn’t take too long to find out what was going on.”
Mavy has the support of family, friends and neighbors who have helped her through the past year. She also received 500 letters from people and groups around the world sending their condolences and support to her after the shooting.