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JOYCE VICTORIA MOREAU

It is with deep grief and profound sadness that the Moreau family announces the sudden passing of our beloved matriarch Joyce, on Saturday September 12th, while at the family cottage at Victoria Beach, at the age of 86 years.

Joyce was predeceased by her mother Kay, her father Robert; brother Albert; sister Lillian; son Joseph; and husband Con. She leaves to cherish her memory her sister Grace; her children Paul, Christopher (Carla), Michael (Darlene); her grandchildren Dane (Hilary), Cole (McKennah), Fallon, Adara and Pierce; her great grandchildren Norah and Indiana, and a third great grandchild to be born sometime next April, along with many nephews, nieces and dear friends. Mom was so excited at the announcement of the new baby and was very moved to see the tiny child’s heartbeat in a sonogram video only a couple of days before she passed. The grand circle of life continues… her legacy lives on.

Mom was born to Ukrainian and German heritage on October 10th, 1933 and came into the world in a most elegant way. While she was born at the family home on Helmsdale Avenue in East Kildonan, the doctor was called while he was in the middle of attending a society affair, and after rushing to the house, proceeded to deliver Mom while dressed in a formal black tuxedo. That grand entrance was to set the stage for the development of a socially graceful woman, whose impeccable style, presence, gentility, and kindness would be among her most admirable characteristics and qualities.

Spending most of her formative years during the 1930’s and 40’s growing up on Burrows Avenue in the North End, she thrived in the eclectic ethnicity of the community and the richness that came from the blending of so many cultures. This was reflected in a diverse group of childhood friends, and a dizzying array of shops and stores to visit on Selkirk Avenue and other neighborhood streets that all helped to shape her life views. She fondly remembered her early years there, including watching her older brother Albert regularly diving off the Redwood Bridge to go swimming in the river with friends. A different era indeed.

The war years came and Mom remembered what the home front was like including the rations that families had to live on in those days, along with the steady stream of news about which young men had been lost in battles, at unknown places overseas. She particularly remembered when soldiers came to take down the swings and metal fences in the parks and schoolyards in her neighborhood, to use them to manufacture more armaments for the troops.

A conscientious student with a love of music and sports, she graduated from St. John’s High School going on to work for Eaton’s downtown in the store’s accounting department as a junior clerk, and later at the Industrial Acceptance Finance Corporation.

In those days, young men and women seeking a weekend escape from the city would often take the train up to Grand Beach, where one night on the moonlit boardwalk with music drifting down from the dance hall, she met the love of her life, Con.

 

Mom and Dad married in 1960 and settled into a brand-new home in the new suburb of Garden City to start their family together. Tragedy struck early though with the death of their first-born son Joseph in 1961, who died within days of being born from Hyaline Membrane, a respiratory disease now routinely treated. Many hospital delivery wards in those days were not enlightened and kept children separated from their parents. To the end of her days, Mom sadly recalled how she was not allowed to see Joseph after delivery, never even having the chance of holding her newborn son. Days later, she and Dad were advised their baby had passed and were finally allowed to see him for the first time. They were awash in sorrow.

With great courage and faith in the future though, they tried again and Mom brought three more boys into the world over the next nine years. While outnumbered by men, Mom made a wonderful home for the ones in her life, always arranging for special touches, gifts, meals, notes and surprises on birthdays and holidays. She enveloped us in warmth and support in between, nurturing our life education and encouraging our dreams, and cheering loudly at our hockey, baseball, and basketball games.

Dad was a committed businessman with great ambition and dreams of his own, and the life of an entrepreneur’s wife was both exciting as he reached for the stars, but difficult when times got tough. Through it all though and in the end, Mom and Dad sustained in their love for one another, ultimately reconciling the swings of fortune over the years, and strengthening their life partnership. Once her sons were older, and at the age of 45, Mom decided she wanted to get back into the workforce herself and spent the next 17 years faithfully working for the CIBC in one of the bank’s nearby branches. She was a wonderful, loving and supportive wife.

This was also beautifully evident in how Mom selflessly and tirelessly cared for Dad during the three and a half years he valiantly struggled against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, ultimately fulfilling his wish to pass on at the family home. Dad had lingered, as had her own mother prior whom she had lovingly tended to for years as well, following a severe stroke that took her speech. Through these experiences, and seeing her elderly friends linger in pain too, Mom resolved that such a fate was not to be hers. She embarked on her retirement and remained a widow for the next 23 years.

After Dad’s death, as her sons we took steps to fully integrate her life into ours and she participated completely in all aspects of our growing families, with an upfront seat on the rollercoaster as it careened and shuddered around the corners of the ensuing years. It was a thrilling ride with Mom pitching in to help raise her grandchildren and lend a supporting hand however she could. She was a fixture at family events from Christmas Pageants to her grandkids’ band gigs, and often went on business trips with her boys. She enjoyed such traveling perks as box seating on the opening night at the Boston Pops, cocktails high above San Francisco at the Top of the Mark lounge in the Intercontinental Hotel, a place she had visited in her twenties with a girlfriend when they had intrepidly taken a bus trip alone down to California to see a bit more of the world, and she also enjoyed a stay at the Chateau Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City, in their famous Robert Bourassa Suite.

Mom’s full life also included a close circle of contemporaries. She was active in her church, St. Anthony of Padua, and was a long-term member of the choir there, as well as a sharp and clever bridge player in her various social clubs and with family, and a champion crossworder on the side. She lived alone and was highly self-sufficient and enjoyed her many routines with friends both in and out of her apartment block.

She loved a nice rye and seven, shrimp cocktail, a good steak and baked potato, and cherry cheesecake, and her eyes would light up when her sons would take her to Rae & Jerry’s, which was an old haunt of hers and Dad’s. She also loved comfy slippers, her heated-up bean bag, hot tea and cookies, shopping anywhere, and trips across the border to Grand Forks and Fargo to look for deals. She came to digital technology later in life but mastered her iPad and astonished her grandchildren and great granddaughter Norah in the process. She also learned how to create an emoji that was her perfect cartoon self, and to change it for every single occasion to the great amusement of all. However, the deepest recesses of her heart were reserved for the family cottage up at Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg.

Mom and Dad bought land there in 1970 but held off building until the 1980’s, renting cottages instead and spending time at her dear sister Grace’s cottage just up the road, as the families were so close. Victoria Beach was a paradise for the family and when the year-round Chateau Moreau – as it affectionately came to be called in later years – was finally built, there would be no looking back as the family set about making new memories by the shore.

Mom loved the beach, swimming, jumping through the waves, luxuriating in the warm summer sun after a refreshing dip in the lake, staying on the sand late into the day, riding her bike to the bakery, ice cream at The Moonlight Inn, and barbecuing on the deck.

She loved spending time there with her growing grandchildren and great grandchildren, and in later years loved the parties that were held when her sons and their friends were making music. She also enjoyed watching hockey and football games with the lake gang, whom she had a lot of affection and fondness for, or just sitting in the sunroom doing crosswords when folks were over, happy to be part of the scene and relaxing on the sidelines.

However, time was hard on her over the years and she came to face a litany of mounting physical ailments including a major heart attack, multiple surgeries, a serious car accident, a severe fall, two replaced hips and knee surgery, severe arthritis, and more. She fought valiantly and her daily courage against the chronic pain was astounding, always putting on a brave face for others and never wanting to ruin the moment for anyone or to be a burden. She was our own version of the Unsinkable Molly Brown.

We were with her through it all and navigated the complexities of the medical system for her to ensure Mom got the care she needed. And while at 86 years of age she was still a tough customer, fiercely independent, and still drove her own car, we could tell that she was steadily slipping, slowing down, and getting tired.

On Saturday, September 12th Mom came “home” to the lake - her favorite place in the world to be - to make the final trip home to heaven. She passed quickly, fulfilling her desire not to linger, and she now belongs to the ages. While our hearts are shattered, we take comfort knowing she is free from pain and reunited with her loved ones, including Dad, and our brother Joseph, whom she can now finally be with and hold close in the fullness of eternity.

This past summer Mom made a voice recording of herself singing one of her favorite songs “Once in a While”, which the family only recently learned of. It forever captured her beautiful singing voice, which was still rich and strong, even at the age of 86.

 

Lyrics from the song include the words “Once in a while, will you try to give one little thought to me… Once in a while will you dream of the moments I shared with you”. Dearest, sweetest and most beloved Mom, Grandma, and Great Grandma, rest assured that you will always be in our thoughts and that we will fondly dream of all the moments we shared with you for the rest of our lives.

A very special thank-you to Dr. Robert Kroeker, Mom’s cardiologist who did so much over the years to extend her days with us, and to the many other doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals who looked after Mom both in and out of the hospital, especially at The Grace, which at times seemed like her second home. The family also extends its sincere thanks to all those who have sent their condolences and words of support on Mom’s passing. This has helped sustain us in our deep grief.

In keeping with Mom’s wishes, and gathering restrictions due to COVID, a small private family celebration of life will be held and cremation will take place. In lieu of flowers and in honour of her grandson Pierce, the family asks that donations be made to Autism Manitoba. Arrangements trusted to Integrity Death Care Consultants Inc.

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