Monday, April 18, 2022

The great Joan Guerin: 1944 to 2022

My late aunt Joan Guerin
This year has so far been a tough year for my family.   

Just weeks after we lost Janis Murray (the youngest sister of my mother Dianne), my aunt Joan Guerin, the younger sister to my late father Fred, passed away in Peterborough, Ontario.  

Joan struggled for years with health issues, her heart finally failing on April 5th, 2022.  

Joan had one of the sharpest minds I had ever encountered and I was proud to call her my aunt.  A lawyer by training, she spent a career building a family law practise in Peterborough, Ontario.  

In recent years, she reminded me greatly of my late father, in physical mannerisms, in outlook, in humour, in intellect, and in spirit.  One of the few women in the Guerin family, she never married, but devoted her time to her extended family, including her many nephews, as well as friends, clients, and colleagues.    

Joan was also political and a bit of a NDP supporter in a family of mostly Liberals.  It made for interesting conversations over the years, and we shared many values.  While months or sometimes even years could go by between our conversations, the bond she built with me, as she did with all of her nephews, was strong.  

I was honoured when she asked me, plus another cousin, Marc Guerin, along with a longtime friend and colleague Suzanne Essex, to be the three co-executors on her will.  

"But there won't be much money left to distribute," she joked to me years ago.  "I intend to spend my money!"  

Sadly, my dear cousin Marc, who was only a couple of months older than me, lost his own battle with cancer in February 2021.  

Thus, Suzanne and myself have been working away since April 5th making plans for Joan's celebration of life and doing the work that goes with these responsibilities.  Thank you to my older brother David who's given me good advice on these important duties.  

With the help of family, I'm proud of the obituary we've written for Joan, which is posted on the website for Comstock-Kaye funeral home in Peterborough.  This Saturday April 23rd, we will follow Joan's wishes and bury her ashes at the same cemetery plot where her late parents were buried in Peterborough.  And soon thereafter, family, friends and former colleagues will gather to celebrate her life.  

I've been reflecting on losing two fabulous women in our families in so short of a time.  While we had some expectations the losses were coming, it nevertheless saddens.  I've only begun to process these events, and I expect I'll continue to do so for months and years.  But I also want to celebrate their great lives.  

These women were awesome!  Some would call them "kick-ass".  They set their own courses in life and lived them to the fullest.  They were inspirations.  They taught us how to do it.  

Thank you, Joan, for everything you did for our family!  I love you and will miss you!  

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