25 January 2010

Hazel Jessie B (1921 – 2010)

My mother, Hazel Jessie, died Sunday, January 24, in our home town of Southbridge, Massachusetts (USA). She was 88 years old.

Hazel was the youngest of 12 siblings born to Alfred Benoit and Melina (Genard) Benoit of Webster, Massachusetts. She was born on a farm, and was fond of saying that her childhood included a lot of time spent climbing in (and eating from) a big cherry tree in the family's yard. She also had fond memories of time spent playing school under that tree with her six sisters, who remained her best friends throughout their lives.

Hazel enjoyed her work in various jobs during her married life, including at American Optical and several Southbridge stores. Her final job was at the jewelry counter in the former Ames Department Store in the Globe area. But most of her life was devoted to caring for her four children and husband Sam, whom she lovingly nursed through a long illness prior to his death in 2002.

An enthusiastic music lover, Hazel played mandolin and led family sing-alongs. She loved listening to radio, especially country music. In 2006, during a year living in Australia with her daughter, she won a national radio contest for her yodelling skills. In the 1960s Hazel enjoyed the Beatles as much as her teenage daughters did! Indeed, among her children’s friends, she was considered a very trendy Mom. As soon as she got her driving licence, she would take her children and their friends to drive-in movies. Once, she drove off with the speaker still hanging from the back window. She stopped the car, threw the speaker out, knocked out the broken glass and rolled down the window frame. Cars weren’t used every day then, so it was a while before her amused husband took the car out of the garage, rolled up the window and wondered why it had no glass!

Hazel was an accomplished seamstress, crafter, decorator, cook and baker. Until macular degeneration robbed her of vision, she was sewing and knitting for others. In 2002, she made dozens of warm hats to be distributed to Hmong students in Laos who were participating in an aid project managed by one of her daughters.

Hazel is predeceased by her husband Raoul (always know as "Sam"), six sisters (Florence, Viola, Eva, Pearl, Mildred and Edna) and four brothers (George, Edward, Louis, and Chester). She leaves one brother and his wife (Walter and Jenny), a son and daughter-in-law in Southbridge (Paul and Linda), two daughters and their partners in Australia (Carol and Allen; Nancy and Rodney), one daughter in Southbridge (Doreen), three granddaughters in Louisiana (Raina, Ariel and Letty); two granddaughters in Australia (Zoe and Anica), a step-granddaughter in Florida (Kim), three great-granddaughters in Louisiana (Skylar, Aldyn and Keely), a step-greatgrandson in Florida (Colton) and many nieces and nephews.

Hazel will be sadly missed by her extended family and by all who knew and loved her. A memorial service will take place in the Spring, when Hazel's ashes will be buried beside her husband’s in the new Notre Dame cemetery on Woodstock Rd, Southbridge MA. In lieu of flowers, friends and relatives are asked to donate to the Haiti Earthquake Response Fund at OXFAM International (PO Box 1211, Albert Lea, MN 56007-1211) or any other Haiti relief agency of their choice.

(March 2006: Hazel arrives for a year she spent with us in Australia)


Amanda Roberts said...

What a lovely memorial of your mum Carol. Much love to you all.

Zoe said...

Gosh - this photo seems like such a long time ago. So much has happened since then, in so many ways, to our little family. Let's hope the next few years are kinder to us.

About me

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I started this blog in 2009 when I became a full-time caregiver. My husband had been diagnosed a few years earlier with primary progressive aphasia. Over the next four years until his death in 2013, we went on a journey of discovery about this rare condition. My blog is about what I learned, how we both coped and how the journey deepened our love and appreciation of each other. Allen’s journey is over, but mine goes on.