A Tribute to 
the Legacy of Dorothy . . .
Mother, Sister, Aunt, Grandma, Great-Grandma and friend

The family and friends of a truly great, inspirational woman, Dorothy Jessie Louise, gathered at her "Celebration of Life" on Monday, September 27th @ 2:00 pm, at the All Saints Ukrainian Cultural Centre, 5601 - 51 Street, in St. Paul, Alberta. Pastor Kelly Sibley officiated with interment following at the Willowgrove Cemetery, in Owlseye, Alberta.

Donations in Dorothy's memory may be made to Haying in the 30's (Cancer Support Society) or the C.N.I.B c/o Box 1780, St. Paul, AB T0A 3A0.

She now rests in peace, free from the pain she suffered after loosing her battle with cancer on September 23rd, 2010, at the age of 80 years young, with her children at her side. Dorothy was known for her independence, strength, humor, guidance and incredible generosity.

An extraordinary mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she leaves behind beautiful memories to her seven beautiful children, Louise (and Wade) Hansma, Ron (and Paulette) Smith, Peggy (and Brian) Schuhmacher, Joy Reeve, Jerry (and Karen) Smith, Tami (and Clayton) Kaldestad and Cheryl (and Glenn) Ogilvie; twelve grandchildren; seventeen great-grandchildren; two sisters, Joyce Hanson, and Carol-Ann (and Bill) Orr; many nieces and nephews; as well as all her "nuther" numerous kids. Dorothy was predeceased by her parents, Leslie and Elsa Tennant; first husband, Russell Smith; second husband, Marcel Belzil; brother, Hughie Tennant; sister, Evelyn Guy; and brother-in-law, Billie Hanson, and many, many friends who loved her deeply.

A SPECIAL THANKS to Mr. and Mrs. Voldemort, for taking care of her, just like they promised they would.

My aunt was always someone that I could turn to for love, advice and support - she was my "other mum." I am so very grateful for the cherished memories of the times we spent together, and the many phone calls when she was too far away to visit. She loved this poem, and the song . . . she shared it with me when my father passed away in 2007. It was SO reminiscent with the life lessons that she taught me . . . and she CERTAINLY lived up to "her dash" .

The Dash     

This poem was written by Linda Ellis, and then set to music and sung by Kirk Dearman

I read of a man who stood to speak

At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone

From the beginning to the end

He noted that the first came her date of birth

And spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time

That she spent alive on earth.

And now only those who loved her

Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;

The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.

Are there things you'd like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,

That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

To consider what's true and real

And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,

And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives

Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,

And more often wear a smile

Remembering that this special dash

Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read

With your life's actions to rehash

would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent your dash?

Tribute Performance of “The Dash” at the Celebration of Life

Eulogy for Dorothy Belzil (Smith, nee Tennant)

Written by Caroline Yewchin, a long-time friend

We first met in about 1977 and my respect and love for Dorothy has grown year by year. About 3 weeks ago, we had our last good visit and she asked that I present her eulogy .... that’s being awfully trusting Dorothy, so listen up, this is about you.

When I met with Dorothy’s family around the kitchen table, Tami said that things or possessions were not important to her Mother; but people were...her relationship and ties to those she loved is what defined her life. As we continued to talk, so came the recurring theme of strings, threads, and cords that bound Dorothy in different ways, to all of us. As we remember Dorothy together, you will see that at times, her cords had the strength of steel as she navigated incredible challenges; at times her strings were kinky or wonky as her sense of humor saved the day; sometimes the threads stretched thin as relationships pulled away, only to be drawn back together again. In Dorothy’s book, ties and relationships could become stubbornly knotted, unraveled, or frayed but were never permanently severed. She never gave up on people and believed the best of them. To Dorothy, this is what love was all about.

Dorothy Jessie Louise Tennant was born to parents Leslie and Elsa Tennant on August 20th, 1930. Her parents were blueberry picking near their home in Owlseye, Alberta when Dorothy’s decided it was time to arrive. They barely made it to St. Paul where Dorothy became one of the first babies born in St. Therese Hospital. Her Daddy worked on the railroad and one of her happiest childhood memories was running down the hill to meet him after work. He would hold her hand tightly and share a bit of lunch from his big lard pail, that he had saved just for her. Dorothy didn’t know how her parents managed through the depression years, as she, her brother Hughie and sisters, Evelyn, Joyce and Carol-Ann always had new warm clothes and boots for school and real skates for skating on the slough.

At the tender age of 18, Dorothy cut the apron strings from her Mom and Daddy and on August 23, 1948, married Russell Smith, a handsome young man, just home from the Army. Daddy wasn’t convinced that she was ready to leave home, but Dorothy’s strength and independence won him over. It was love and as far as Dorothy was concerned, she was getting married and that was all there was to it.

Russell and Dorothy had seven children, Yes, seven children! With a twinkle in her eye, she call them her “train babies”. Russell came home from work on the train at 4:00 in the morning. It was too early to get up and too late to go to bed, so.... Dorothy’s ball of string grew bigger with the addition of her children, Louise, Ron (Bim), Peggy, Joy, Jerry, Tami, and Cheryl. Dorothy and Russell and their young family moved many times - to Ponoka, Bawlf, Wetaskiwin, Mayerthorpe, Cold Lake and Ashmont to name a few. Cheryl said her Mom was a packing expert ... she organized things in plastic bags and could back an entire household into a cardboard box. This skill was obviously passed on to her children .... when they converged as a family in St. Paul, they all pulled out items - packed in plastic zip-lock bags.

In 1963, Russell was tragically killed in a car accident, leaving Dorothy a young widow with 7 children to raise. Of necessity, her string became a cord of steel. With very little financial support, her resourcefulness, creativity and strength were revealed. Louise said Mom could make a pound of hamburger feed 10 people. It was also common to have macaroni for the main course and jello for dessert. When asked, “Mom why do we always have macaroni and jello?” She replied, “so that the jello can full up the holes in the macaroni!”

Dorothy planted a giant garden, giving each child a patch of their own to plant what they wanted. It kept them all busy and the cellar full. Dorothy used to say that the wolf wouldn’t dare knock on their door, because he’d likely end up in the soup pot. Bim recalls that at the age of 13, he shot a moose - Dorothy was so happy she cried with joy, because her family was going from baloney to steak, virtually overnight. Cheryl said that being practical was a survival skill - you never wasted anything. Friday night was FDD... Fridge Day Delight... whatever was leftover in the fridge from the week, appeared in the pot on Friday night .... it could be a stew, or a soup, or some other “delight”.

Raising 7 children alone was no easy task... Her kids claimed that Dorothy had exceptional hearing and could hear earth worms crawl. In reality, Dorothy could hear them talking through a duct pipe system in the house, thus kyboshing their nefarious plans. She also let them believe that she really did have 17 eyes in the back of her head. Jerry said that his Mom taught him honesty and responsibility. The boys once took some tatoo gum from a confectionary and hid it under their cowboy hats. When Mom found out, she made them march back to the store and apologize, then pick bottles until the gum was all paid for.

Joy remembered her Mom’s wicked sense of humor and the fact that she could laugh at herself. Once Dorothy was doing a crossword puzzle. She was looking at a clue and asked Joy, “what the heck is an Or-an-gutton?” Or-an-gutton? Mom, that’s Orangutang! They both broke into peals of laughter. However, Peggy said, if you ever made Mom mad enough to cry, then you ran and hid (under the bed was the place of choice) because you were in BIG BIG trouble. Dorothy would yell out, “Louise, Tami, Cheryl!” dammit you know you are.... get in here!

Dorothy believed that you didn’t have to be rich, but you had to be clean and tidy. There would be no bugs in her house! Cheryl said that if you opened a bottle of bleach, all the grandchildren would say it smelled like grandma. (the bouquet of flowers on Memorial table attests to this - photo above left) Everyone had chores, and you wouldn’t dream of leaving them half-done. There was no such thing as “a lick and a promise” in Dorothy’s world. She ruled her roost with a firm, but fair hand.

As the children grew, so too did Dorothy’s ball of string, as they brought special friends home, who all called her “Mom”. Dorothy’s life became richer and fuller with the marriage of her children and the addition of her beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

At the age of 52 years, Dorothy’s string got an interesting tangle - she met Marcel Belzil again. Dorothy had worked for Marcel in the Hatchery in the mid 1960's and met him again when she moved back to St. Paul in 1982 to help care for her aging parents. It was also during this time that she took driving lessons, a “practical” gift from her kids. Dorothy was so excited when Marcel called her for a date, she backed into her sister Joyce’s car!

They were together for over 10 years before Marcel convinced Dorothy to tie the knot on Christmas Eve, 1994. Sadly, Marcel passed away in February 1995. Dorothy continued to live in her house, spending time with her neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Kitz; visiting Marcel’s sister, Carmen; and going with friends to Tuesday Borsch Day at Our Soup Kitchen.

For her 65th birthday, her girls took her on a trail ride to Banff. She absolutely loved it! She was the first one on her horse, and in her distinctive deep voice, was heard to declare, ala John Wayne, “Come on pilgrims, get your butts in the saddle!” To her family, Dorothy was the original internet provider ... “The Source of Information”. If she read an article in the paper, she did a phone-fan-out cautioning against this risk or that. “Don’t eat tomatoes!” From her books on antiques to her encyclopaedias, she researched everything, and would give you 15 pages of information on a given topic. She never stopped being the #1 mom and grandma to her family.

Tami, who looked after 7 children in a day home of her own, once sent her Mom a card, thanking her for not giving them all away after their Dad died. Dorothy immediately called Tami to say, “the thought never crossed my mind”.

When I last spoke with Dorothy, she told me that, and I quote, “My greatest accomplishment in life was raising my children to the best of my ability and watching all of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren”.

To Dorothy’s family: Your mother was an amazing woman who faced both life and death with grace and strength and humor. Her last gift to you was being able to gather you home, so that you could reconnect as family. You have chosen a beautiful poem for her card:

Love is a Circle

Children are born, grow up, fall in love,

Have families of their own...

But through the years

A Mother’s love is the silken thread

that binds the family together.

If you could keep the thread of your Mother’s love, strong and centered,

it would be a wonderful and lasting gift to her.

Thank-you from the Family . . .

As published in the St. Paul Journal, Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

We, the family of Dorothy Belzil, want to express our deepest gratitude to all our relatives, extended family and friends who offered their love, support and comfort to us during this difficult time. Your visits, kind thoughts, generous gifts of food, flowers and cards have been greatly appreciated and will provide strength and comfort to us in the days ahead. We would also like to extend a very special thank you to our dear friends - the Voldemorts, the nurses and staff of the St. Paul Health Unit who assisted us in caring for our Mom and to Larissa and Carolyn of Grace Gardens Funeral Chapel in St. Paul for their compassion and professionalism. You have all helped us immensely during Mom’s illness and your guidance and comfort during the challenging days that followed will not soon be forgotten. We so much appreciate the dignity and respect shown to our Mother and to all of us, making a very difficult time much easier to bear.

“Rest in Peace … We Love You Biggest”

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