May 20, 2021

A Message of Love

To know Dot, you felt Dot…she always made you feel…something.  joy, love, laughter, hope…  Today we celebrate the memories that Dot has left us with, along with a message of love.  She loved each of us in our own way, a special way.  She had this unique ability to meet everyone where they were on their journey in life and be who they needed her to be. She was so multifaceted, and had so many different circles of friends – and each circle was an integral part of Dot and she was an integral part of them.  Her presence in many of our lives was unique, and chances are, the Dot that you knew and loved was a different Dot than I knew and loved.  And yet, as each of our relationships with her were different, the commonality of love and feeling as if we are the most important person in the world when we were with her, was very much the same for each of us.  She was a master at giving each person she knew her undivided attention in a way that you felt someone was really hearing you – she was selfless and humble in every way.

My name is Juli, and it is a privilege to be here today, and honored that Dot asked me to represent all the many facets of her extraordinary life.  Today, Dot asked that we talk about how Love is the root of all there is.   It was the foundation upon which she approached life.  Dot did everything from a place of love.  And boy, did she do a lot!  Many often wondered how she was able to do it all, and always with a smile and always without complaint.

I first met and came to know Dot as my best friends mom, when we would go to Dana and Missy’s house and play dress up in all of Dots old clothes and Grandma and Grandpa Hookers square dancing clothes from the tickle trunk and then rock out to the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack – specifically Hungry Eyes.   Then I came to know Dot as a Brownie Leader, and later our Girl Guide Leader.  She was our cheerleader at baseball games.  She was our taxi driver to basketball and volleyball games. She was on the SCC at Greenbank School and helped plan and orchestrate amazing Fun Fairs, hot lunches and raise money when the school needed it.  She did this for us when we were kids and she later went back to the SCC when her grandkids were at Greenbank School too.  I came to know Dot as a Youth Leader, Sunday School Teacher, a driving force behind the Churches Centennial Year Projects.  I came to know Dot as the “hostess with the mostess” when we spent countless days at the cottage. I came to know Dot as she ran the snack bar at the annual 3 Pitch Tournament.  I came to know Dot as one of my mom’s Master Birder Friends.  I came to know Dot as one of the Ladies of the Lake.  I came to know Dot as our Designated Driver.  And that was all before I graduated high school. 

As a child and youth, I admired Dot, and many of us thought of her as our mom too.  It wasn’t until I became an adult that I truly came to understand the depth of her love and commitment to community.  In fact, just this week, as I was compiling memories from so many sources, I realized just how intertwined and connected we all are through her.  So, suffice to say, Dot raised a lot of money for different projects, charities, the church and the community.  She was involved with so many groups, playgroups, organizations and teams that we would be here all day just listing them off. She made friends everywhere she went – many people will remember Dot introducing herself as the “Town Hooker”, which always made people laugh, especially when she would be pushing Minnie around in a stroller, picking up new friends in town.   It is truly overwhelming.  I mean, just look around for a moment…you see all the faces here – and you are all connected through family or community.  She had a lot of amazing accomplishments, so today I want to highlight a few of the ones that show the essence of who Dot was to this community.

Dot was involved in the UCW for over 30 years where she earned her lifetime membership. She started in the Fidelis Unit and then in 1987 decided to start an evening group for the girls who worked and couldn’t make the afternoon meetings. Since then, together with Barb Ward and Valerie Hunter was on the catering committee all these years.  She was instrumental in fundraising in new and fun ways like the Loonie Auction, plant sales, car rallies, auctions sales, quilting bees, yard sales and more.  So many of us benefited from her orchestrating Community Baby and Bridal Showers for us.   She was always instigating new ways to keep life in the church and in the UCW.

Dot volunteered on the Greenbank Hall Board for well over 30 years. Giving her time to projects was her way of giving love to the community. She helped with strawberry socials, dances, Halloween, Easter and Christmas Parties for the community kids year after year. Many of you will remember her enthusiasm waving the checkered flag at the finish line for the Soapbox Derby.  She was awarded the Community Volunteer Award from the Greenbank Lions Club in 2003 for her dedication to the community.  And she was also awarded the 30 year pin from the Township of Scugog for her commitment of service to the Greenbank Hall.

Her involvement with the Annual 3 Pitch Tournament was something that Dot was passionate about because it was where family, friends and community collided. She had her crew of sisters and friends who all worked so well together, shared great times and laughter- especially on those shopping trips where she exerted her heavy foot passing red corvettes!  Dot was always up for fun and loved to see others enjoying themselves, cheering for all the members of her family and babysitting at the same time – she was the first one there and the last one to leave every day.  In fact, did you know that shortly after the change rooms and bathrooms were built at the park, Dot organized the Guides and Brownies to come and sell hotdogs, candy and cold drinks and thus the fundraising aspect of the tournament was born and a few short years later had become the largest annual fundraiser for the park?  She never entered the spotlight, and always shared the accolades with others.  Her community spirit was an inspiration and a driving force behind making our community a friendlier place to live and grow.

30 some years ago, sitting around Dot’s kitchen table a group of Greenbank Ladies had a discussion about all things family and decided it was time for the young mothers to get away, to have some fun and let the kids have some quality time with their Dad’s on Father’s Day Weekend.  A tradition was started that was inspired by Dot and created through friendship.  Moving from cottage to cottage over the years a new sisterhood was created and they called themselves the “Ladies of the Lake.” They have shared in many celebrations and joys while raising their children – their children’s weddings, the birth of many grandchildren, and an accumulation of wisdom shared through their experiences. 

They have built a strong community of sisterhood that is founded on their strongest cardinal rule of “What goes on at the lake, stays at the lake!”  So the stories are many, the tears are few unless you count the laughter in their escapades, which has given way to packing depends for their getaways.

From skipping stones, to bras on the flagpole, to wild games of bocce ball, crokinole and “shooter time!” we know how Dot loved her Sheridan’s, otherwise known as Mother’s Milk…they have survived initiations, shared Angel Card Readings, enjoyed being treated by Dot’s Reflexology, walked in the beautiful places that they shared together, consoling and loving each other.

Food was high on their priority list.  Everyone knows that this was top for Dot.  She always wanted to know when they were going to eat next…the more food the happier she was.  When making their grocery list Dot always wanted the good fatty foods, she said “None of that LIGHT shit, ‘cause it has no taste and makes no sense!”  She often referred to her self as a tourist in the grocery store!  Because of her passion for food there was always plenty and new creative culinary delights which inspired their Sunday morning tradition of Eggs Benedict.

Then their Girl’s Night Socials and their simple weekend getaways turned into the thought of a GRAND TRIP!  The Ladies of the Lake headed to “Suzy’s” Arizona home in the desert, which turned out to be one of Dot’s favorite places.  Then the thought of a trip to Cuba was born…a dream come true for Dot especially with the thought of 129 species of birds and the largest flamingo colony in the world.  Talk about a Birder’s Delight!

The Ladies of the Lake can all agree that their friendship will always be the thing that binds them together and keeps them united – and now they have their very own Guardian Angel.  

When Dot wasn’t with people, she was with her Birds.  Next to her family, Birds were her passion.  In the early 1990’s Dot discovered a passion for birds and began feeder watching.  By the mid-90’s her passion had grown into Birding Trips. Travels took her from the Birding Trail in Florida to, Arizona, Texas and Cuba.  In each new area she would find a new bird.  A black neck stilt, a Cuban owl, the endangered warblers and even the Baltimore Orioles in her own back yard.  An annual pilgrimage in Ontario was born to Rondeau Park, Point Pelee and other local hot spots every May with her birding buddies Suzy, Carol and Marie.  She used to say, “There are only so many Mays in our life and we need to make the most of each one!”  True to that, the length of their birding trips got longer and longer and came to include ‘The Biggest Week in American Birding” in Ohio.  Just last May their birding extravaganza included Ontario, Ohio, Michigan and then back to Ontario, then in the fall to Algonquin Park.  She has made many lasting birding friendships along the way.  For a woman who had hearing loss and colorblindness, it is amazing to me that she was able to be a Master Birder.  Many of you could probably recognize a bird or two by ear, and maybe know about a dozen or so different species of birds.  Dot could identify more than 50 species of birds by ear, and has seen more than 300 different species of birds in her lifetime. Her eyes would light up and she would jump up and down like a little girl on Christmas morning when she would find a life-bird.  She brought her love of the birds right to her own back door and created a Blue Bird Trail from her house extending north towards Seagrave that encourages blue birds to nest here in our area.  Just a few weeks ago Chris and Debbie Dulong brought their birds and Dot’s favorite barn owl, Stella for a visit to the house.  Although Stella can be a feisty and difficult bird, she settled right onto Dot’s arm, like they were kindred spirits. Even the birds loved Dot.

Dot loved working with people, and a job for her was never really a job.  She could always find joy in the work.  If she was catering, she was excited to be there to serve others.  It didn’t matter if she was washing dishes at the Greenbank Restaurant with Ginny and Young, they were the best dishes in the world to be washing, because they were the dishes of family to her.  John and Madeline McCabe and Michelle and Donna were so good to her during the time she worked at the Chicken Coop – and she loved working for them, because they embraced each other as family.  It didn’t matter if she was cleaning a house with Daphne, that was the best house in the world to be cleaning, because it was for someone else.  She found such joy in working and doing things to make life easier for everyone around her.  It was just a bonus if she got paid.  Knowing Dot as I do, she would have done it all for free – she loved us that much.

My relationship with Dot began to change about 18 years ago, when we connected on a spiritual and faithful level.  She was a great supporter of mine as I began to build my natural health business and encouraged me to start a Meditation Group, which we now call Courage Circle.  It is a group that explores spirituality and anything mystical and magical.  A group that has grown to over 70 women who have come to know and love Dot.  This group of women share their hopes, dreams, fears, vices and willingly hold each other’s hands on life’s journey.  Dot often said her weeks didn’t feel complete without coming to Circle and connecting with Divine through prayer and meditation.  I like to think here she found strength to stay centered in positivity, hope and life.  If you knew Dot, even a little, you know that she was a faithful woman.  And she sat right there, every Sunday.  She believed in God, a heaven, and love.  One time I peeked at her during meditation and she looked as though she was floating on a cloud, rocking back and forth, downloading and filling herself with love to give to others.  One time she told me that she believed that love would set her free.  And in the end, just as she wanted it, she was surrounded by love, surrendered in love, and set free in love.  She found comfort in the musings of Rumi, who supported one of her philosophies in life when he said “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”  And she honestly loved what she did and did what she loved and found beauty in everything she did.  She got more out of giving than she ever did receiving.  It is just who she was.

Looking back, I think Dot was able to love us how she did because she mastered the ability to surrender. She surrendered into cooking and baking, epicure, preserving and chocolate making, she surrendered into the joy of doing for others…she poured love into every pot of soup for her friends who were sick, into every jar of preserves that she made, into every turtle that we all had the pleasure of consuming.  I know that there are many of us here today that will think of her each Christmas as we make the turtles that she taught us to make.  Dot surrendered into the joy of food –and you would often hear her remark or ask for recipes and share her recipes to keep her passion for food alive.  

Dot surrendered into her creativity…and loved to play with it!  Many of you will have memories of time spent with Dot crafting.  She loved to be busy, sharing in the art of creating and teaching others as she went.  From making soaps, earrings, cards, quilting, sewing and so many other hobbies along the way.  Her time with Deb, Pam and friends, making cards was so important for her, especially during those long winter months.  I am sure that most of us have a Dot Creation hanging around somewhere at home.  A treasure now, one that we will appreciate for the rest of our lives.

Dot often found a lot of comfort and peace in poetry, song and dance. She could hear a song, even a slow song, and rock out to it.  She surrendered to the music, danced like no one was watching and loved every minute of it. At any dance, Jack and Jill, or Wedding you would find Dot on the dance floor with her sisters, the girls and her friends.  Some of you will have awesome memories with her at concerts – especially Harry Chapin, whom she saw more than a dozen times! 

Dot surrendered into the present moment…so many times – she was always open to new adventures, opportunities and was up for anything.  I can hear her saying “How Exciting!” as she would seize a new opportunity and jump in on the next project.  She gave into the moment. Even when something didn’t go her way, her response would be “It is what it is.”  

One time in 2014 as we were hiking in Sedona Arizona, a place that Dot came to love, we were overly ambitious to climb to the top of Cathedral Rock – a peregrine falcon had been spotted there.  The climb was steep at over 600 feet elevation change in less than a mile.  Dot was determined, to get to the top of that mountain.  Carrying her BINS of course, she used her body, she rock climbed, shimmied on her butt, struggled for breath and literally drug herself to the top of that mountain.  The look of pride in herself for conquering it, for working through the pain and exhaustion of that climb and the gratitude she showed to the women who helped her up that mountain was a look that I will always remember.   And then the ultimate reward, Peregrine Falcons…caught in the act of mating.  You should know that there are about 1500 breeding pairs in all of North America, and only 1 in 500,000 people get to witness the 20second act of Peregrine Falcons mating in the wild.  She surrendered into the challenge and refused to believe that it was something that she couldn’t do. She was stubborn like that but her determination was rewarded with a once in a lifetime sight!

I am not sure that even our words will relay to you the depth of her character and the vastness of her love.  The truth is, Dot’s soul has outlived her physical body.  I don’t believe that souls die.  Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere – they are in each other all along.  Dot is within each of us, the love she has shown us has the potential to bloom within us, reminding us that she existedBecause she existed we are better.  We can take her love and the lessons we have learned with and through her and be better. She taught us how, because she existed.

Do you remember how she used to call the rays of light piercing through the clouds as “God-lights?”  From here on in, I’m going to think of those beams of light, as “Dot-lights.”

Xo Juli

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