Jeanne Marie Reid
Mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, activist.
Born: September 11, 1927
Died: August 8, 2016 in Hamilton, Ontario
Interred: Holy Sepulchre, Burlington
Jeanne Marie Reid (Guay) was a mother, aunt, grandmothers and sister. In fact, she was my grandmother. She had four children: Denise (Ed), Bruce (Gail), John (Geraldine), and Paul (Natalie). She also had four granddaughters: Megan, Laura (Mike), Sarah (Ben), and myself, Camille. She was also survived by her four siblings, Bud (Grace), Mary (Jim), Nancy, and Sister Carole-Anne. Put shortly, my grandmother was truly a lady– she was always graceful and kind. She was a woman with many talents and passions, which I am sure everyone will remember her by.
Wherever my grandmother went, she made friends by either teaching or playing cards, usually bridge. She always emphasized how having fun was more important than winning, and only played with people who agreed. My grandmother loved to laugh, and she surrounded herself with people that she loved to laugh with.
Despite being born in Detroit in 1927, she always identified as a Hamiltonian– Hamilton was home. She travelled the world, but always faithfully returned to her city because it was her true home. She made her mark on the city through her activism to ensure that Gage Park remained a green space, something she knew Hamilton desperately needed. She volunteered in the gardens there, and made sure herself and her fellow volunteers kept Gage Park beautiful. All of her children and grandchildren have fond memories there, which I know she made sure of.
My grandmother was also a talented pianist and quilter. She taught every child who set foot into her Maplewood Avenue home at least one song on her piano in the thirty-five years that she lived there. She also taught many of my family members how to sew– each of our homes has something made by her or with her, which has provided each of us something special to remember her by.
Grandma was the most loving and encouraging woman I knew. She cared about (and worried about) each and every one of us, even loving her son and daughters-in-law like her own children. No one got as excited as she did when any of us accomplished something– she was our cheerleader. This did not exempt anyone from her honesty, though– if she did not agree with something, she made sure to tell you. When my grandmother became sick, she told me that she was okay with it, saying “I have done everything I want to do, I have four successful children with four successful partners, and four successful granddaughters. I have it made.”
I will conclude with three very important lessons my grandmother taught me, that the rest of the family also learned, I am sure. A former secretary at Bishop Ryan High School, she stressed the importance of learning. “The day I stop learning something new every day is the day I may as well dig myself a grave. Life is a learning experience,” she once told me. This leads me to believe that she is watching over all of us, as an all-knowing guardian angel. Secondly, my grandmother was a fiercely independent woman. Facing many challenges as a single mother in the 1970s, she quickly learned the importance of self-reliance. Not only did I see this exemplified by her, but also her daughter, my Aunt Denise. Much to Grandma’s excitement, her three sons also married women who were as strong as she. My cousins Megan and Laura, and sister Sarah, also exemplify this standard, and I hope she felt I did too. Lastly, she always told us to “go with the flow,” and avoid becoming upset or stressed out about the things we cannot control in life. These are words I tell myself daily, hoping to find the grace and patience she showed every day of her life.