Joan Marie Mercier Burt
On Thursday, October 28, our mother, Joan Marie Mercier Burt, died peacefully at home surrounded by her four children. We loved her deeply and unconditionally and we will miss her terribly. She was our ‘go-to person’ for everything, and no matter how small or significant the problem, she listened, asked just the right questions and then gave us her advice. Her kind, caring and comforting way of helping extended far beyond her children to her daughter- and sons-in-law, her grandchildren, great grandchildren, extended family, friends and the many patients she supported over her nursing career. She made everyone who came in contact with her feel special.
Mum was born in Schenectady, New York on March 23, 1936. She was the daughter of Joseph and Emilie (Dollase) Mercier. She moved to St. Andrews, Scotland with our dad before they settled in Fredericton in the early 1960s. She led a very active life in Fredericton, and she had many good friends, several of whom predeceased her. It was difficult for her to lose so many of her closest friends recently: Diane, Ilsa, Joyce, and especially Judy.
She was an athlete, a tennis player, an avid reader, and she excelled at bridge and golf. Her nursing career was a highlight of her life as she had a passion for patient care. She was a strong advocate for people with addictions and mental health challenges. When she worked in Addictions Services, she was known for never turning anybody away.
We asked a few of the people who loved her how they would describe her. The words we heard most were: loving, curious, practical, pragmatic, independent, brave, extraordinary, straightforward, honest, non-judgemental, elegant, glamorous, fashionable, helping, kind, calm and caring. She was a class act.
We also heard, and in most cases already knew, the following anecdotes:
She was always able to balance her love for family, friends and her work and she found joy in so many other things, like shopping, music, golf, bridge and even laundry! Of all her children, David has learned her secret to balancing life’s joys best.
She loved to find a sale or bargain and could negotiate a discount on just about anything.
She was an excellent golfer and played regularly until she was 80. She knew the rules of golf well (though she also knew when to bend them a little) and was active in the Canadian Senior Women’s Golf Association for many years. She was proud of her club championship trophy from the Gage, and she loved her Fredericton Golf Club family and the course.
She was also described as an impatient golfer. She could ask the question "can we play through?" in the nicest way with a smile and no one could refuse.
She won a Family Classic Tournament with her daughter Sheila one year, but she still liked to talk about the year she lost the Family Classic with Diane as partner, but the margaritas were good, and she was able to put her nursing skills to work on Diane’s wasp sting with a mixture of margaritas and mud.
Carolyn remembers the many times she patiently taught her the game of bridge. Even though she was a formidable player at the Club, she was patient and kind as Carolyn learned the game. Bridge Club was so important to Mum, especially in the last few years. While she lost many friends recently, she made many more through the game of bridge. We know there any many bridge friends missing her right now and we appreciate their calls and kind words.
Granny could be depended on to rescue her grandchildren. When one of her grandchildren was sick at school (or maybe not really sick), they would call Granny and she would be there within 15 minutes. Also, when Stefan and Alec wanted to go to a movie when they were supposed to go straight home, she covered for them to the complete distress of their parents who went searching for the not really lost boys. Chris and Granny had a special connection and often helped each other out with talks and yardwork.
Friends of ours also remember times she supported them through their trials and problems growing up. Mum had so much patience for us all in our turbulent teenage years.
She loved butter and sugar. Jessica said: "She’d get mad at me when I wouldn’t eat dessert, because sugar is such a good part of life and how could I not eat it!" Emily shared this story: "Recently she told me life was like a recipe, and sometimes the ingredients (people) change and we need to learn to substitute ingredients to still make a great thing. However, I told her she was butter, and that you just can’t substitute butter. Which she laughed at and agreed."
Joan Marie Mercier Burt will be missed so much by her children: Carolyn (Bert) Ramsay; Diane (Cenk) Burt; Sheila (Gord) Burt; and David (Susan) Burt. She will also be missed by her five grandchildren, Jessica, Chris, Alec, Stefan, and Emily; her three great-grandchildren, John, James and Ellie; her nieces and nephews and their Mum in Scotland and England; and her many friends here and around the world.
We all have so many wonderful memories and we hope to continue to share them with family and friends who want to reach out. She will always be a guiding light for us; ever present, steady and comforting. She was always there for us, and she always will be… right around the corner.
Our sincere thanks to Dr. Karen Van Middlesworth, Dr. Nessa Goguen and the nursing team from Extra-Mural for all their care and support. At Mum’s request, we are having a small celebration of her life with family at home. Donations in her memory to Hospice House or to Addictions Services through the Chalmers Foundation would be appreciated.
"Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life."