HELEN YVONNE SMALLWOOD
April 21, 1929 – November 27, 2021
Passed peacefully on November 27th at Kildonan PCH.
Helen was predeceased in 2007 by her devoted husband of 58 years, James Everett.
She is survived by sons, Wray (Sandy), and Scott (Susan); daughters, Donna Purvis (Wayne), Catherine Smallwood, and Boni Carbotte; chosen daughter Maureen Daun (Cal); grandsons, Kevin Carbotte (Tracy), Ryan Carbotte (Val), Andrew Smallwood (Molly), and Stephen Smallwood (Caitlyn); step granddaughters, Lauren Cyr (Matt Coyle), and Michelle Cyr; sister-in-law Sylvia Rodgers; nephews, Christopher Rodgers (Line), Michael Rodgers (Cassie) and their families; as well as nieces, Mary Carrie (nee Smallwood), and Susan Lupu (nee Smallwood) and their families.
“Oh, what a life I’ve had!”
Mom will forever be in the hearts of her children, grandchildren, extended family across Canada and life-long friends.
An auntie and second mom to many of her friend’s children and her children’s friends, Helen welcomed everyone into her home with the warm northern hospitality she brought with her from her years in Flin Flon. She said, “people tell me that they feel comfortable in our home.” She didn’t make a fuss and the pantry was always full. She loved to cook and feed everyone. Her cinnamon buns were legendary (especially amongst the Allbutt clan) and her short bread cookies were coveted by the lucky few who received them as a Christmas treat. Home and hospitality were everything… there were many happy gatherings at the Smallwood house over the years.
Mom’s early years were spent in Saskatchewan. She said her mom kept boxes at the back door as her father worked on the grain elevators and they moved often. She was about 10 when her family moved to Flin Flon. Despite the war overseas, mom spoke fondly of her teenage years. Flin Flon was a magical place in those days. Mom took up figure skating, she was a festival beauty queen contestant and she saw all the latest movies in her job as an usher at the local cinema.
Helen met the love of her life, our father Ev, when her mother invited the new young bachelor in town to her 16th birthday party. The story goes that our father was immediately smitten, and so began his pursuit. Mom’s life was filled with happiness, but there were also sorrows. Her lively, musical mother became terminally ill, and mom had to help with her little brother and the household tasks. Losing her mom at 21 and so soon after marrying and starting her own family was painful. But she and dad were young parents who “loved those precious bundles.” She always said those were the best years of her life.
The move from Flin Flon to the big city of Winnipeg in 1963 was difficult. She felt lost. When they settled in Windsor Park, a neighbour invited her to Windsor Park United Church, and she found her new “Church Family” home. She joined Unit Two of the United Church Women (UCW) in 1964 and later joined the choir. This was the beginning of 55 years of fellowship, friendship, faith, and fun. She was an entertaining addition to many fundraisers. A skit with Helen in it was sure to generate laughter.
Mom enjoyed her working years in a variety of workplaces and jobs. She loved being a wage earner which gave her the ability to buy necessities and treats for the family. Most amazing though, is the personal connections she made with her co-workers and employers. She was a true social butterfly and enjoyed many friendships that lasted over the years. She and dad had close connections with the family of their chosen daughter Maureen, and she became auntie to Maureen’s daughters and granddaughters.
Her calendar was always full! She was treasurer of her UCW unit for decades, joined a Birthday Club and the Red Hats (dad surprised her with her first hat... a red and purple beauty), attended Manitoba Theatre Centre matinees, Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra concerts and Flin Flon luncheons. She was a member of the Prendergast Senior’s Club and enjoyed weekly outings with her good friend Ginny. She loved being busy and when dad went out, she was right there riding shot gun.
Music was always a huge part of her life as was evident in her devotion to the church choir. She rarely missed a Thursday night practice and raised her voice in joyful praise during Sunday morning services and Christmas concerts over the years.
Helen and Ev had many wonderful trips across Canada. When dad retired, the two of them enjoyed camping in their trailer. Travelling to mom meant visiting family and friends, not just checking out the scenery. They flew to Hawaii to meet our oldest brother, went on a Caribbean cruise and met long lost relatives in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. After dad passed, mom and two of her daughters traveled annually to Florida for eleven years to soak up the sun, escape winter and see her son and his family. Mom’s last trip was to Vancouver Island in 2019 where she visited her cousin and his wife in Nanoose Bay. She also saw her nephew and nieces and their families in Victoria.
Slowing down as the years went by, mom was content to be at home. She enjoyed her deck and back yard pool immensely. Mom was a ‘fish in water’. At 92, she still loved a dip on the hot days this last summer. She was comforted by the closeness of her nearby daughter and by sharing the house with another daughter. She felt loved by her family. She knew she was not alone and when her time came, she was ready to go.
Live your life fully, love one another deeply, laugh loudly and often.
Special thanks to the health care teams at St. Boniface Hospital, Deer Lodge Centre and Kildonan Personal Care Centre and to Minister Patrick Woodbeck, Windsor Park United Church, for his compassionate care of our mother.
Cremation has taken place and interment will take place in a private ceremony at the Memorial Garden at her church. A Celebration of Life is planned for the spring of 2022.
In lieu of flowers, donations in mom’s memory may be made to Windsor Park United Church, 1062 Autumnwood Drive, Winnipeg, MB R2J 1C7 or to CJNU-FM, L7 – One Lombard Place, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0X3 (Nostalgia Broadcasting CJNU 93.7).
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