My mother loved sentiments. Anytime she received a card or note from a friend or loved one she would call and read it to me along with any additional words that the giver had added. It mattered to her how people felt and expressed themselves. I am not a writer, I don’t support the greeting card industry, and I am sure if asked she would say these last years I didn't send enough cards, but my mother knew I loved her, and there was no doubt how much she loved me. So it means a great deal now that I find the best last words to honor my mother. Joan Irene Bilodeau, oldest of three children, born in Springfield, April 24, 1936, to the late John and Bella I (LeBlanc) Bilodeau, left us peacefully on Saturday August 29, 2020, after a brave battle. It isn't easy for me to sum up all my mother meant in a short paragraph, but the first words that come to mind are strong, courageous, generous, selfless, and I didn’t realize, until the last few years, funny. She graduated Commerce High School in 1954 with a mastery of bookkeeping and began working at Monsanto, West Bank, and finally at IBM, where she proudly worked as a secretary for over 20 years. I have fond memories of going into the office some Saturdays to watch her finish up projects, help her wrap gifts for the annual children’s Christmas parties she proudly organized, along with the annual family picnics that she perfected down to the last detail. She loved to plan parties and trips. I recall many perfectly thought out birthday parties and Summer vacations. I always had a friend or two along. We were not well off, but I never went without or knew of the many sacrifices she made for me. She was an amazing seamstress, and made everything from clothes to curtains, for her family and friends. Many a weekend was spent at her sister Annette’s M (Harrica) & brother in law James’s (Harrica) home, while her beloved nieces, Kathy A(Harrica) & Wendy A (Harrica) and I played, while they sewed and talked into the wee hours. My mom believed in taking care of those she loved, whether it was a thoughtfully chosen gift, or an act of kindness. She selflessly cared for both her father and mother before they passed, and in these last few years has cared for her brother, Richard D (Bilodeau) even through her own most difficult times. My mom had a love of music. Growing up she told me she had always wanted to learn to play the piano, however they couldn’t afford one. I remember her joy when she found and joined the Sounds of Music club, and how much of an impact this new group made in her life. From weekly dinners, annual trips to Maine, and even a much deserved Caribbean cruise, she made friendships that extended into family. She eventually became President of the club and enjoyed putting together their monthly newsletters and meetings, planning holiday parties, Summer picnics, and bus trips for all her beloved friends and club members. She was a longtime communicant of St Thomas the Apostle Church in West Springfield. At the young age of 81 my mom took on new technology and learned to text and joined Facebook in order to keep up with and communicate with us, as well as long lost friends and distant relatives. It made her happy to be able to connect regularly with her niece Elizabeth (Bilodeau), who lives across the country. She would always share jokes with me that she found, and ask me “Did you see this on Facebook”? In the last weeks, it was a blessing for her to receive the many well wishes and prayers, as well as musical tributes from her cherished friends and club members, such as her dearest friends, Richard & Kathy Mitnick, and Ceil Blais, whose kindness and care of her these past few years is a testament to their love and friendship.
Of all the things my mother taught me, the meaning of love ,family, and what it means to be a good mother, stand out most. She was fierce in her love of family, especially her long awaited granddaughter, Isabella. She arrived at the hospital within minutes of her birth and a new love began in her new role as “Memere’”. Isabella M (Hill) She always said you were the best gift she ever got. She loved to make outfits for you and your dolls. She bought out the stores for you at Christmas and birthdays. She read to you,sang to you, rocked you, walked with you, took you to the park, to shows. Taught you to sew, to crochet and so much more. She never missed a play, recital, performance, or any event that you were part of and she was so proud and supportive of all of your accomplishments. I think the most difficult thing she could ever do is leave you. She wished for and envisioned much love and happiness for you. You were and always will be her most cherished, and I know she will be forever watching over and cheering you on. She was an honored grandparent to Abagale (Viens), Joseph (Viens) and Ashlee (Viens) Callahan. She stepped in when needed and gave them another grandparent to love. She loved to celebrate their accomplishments, watch them all grow into young adults, wish them well with school, first jobs, engagements, marriage and dreams for babies. She loved to joke and share sarcasm with her son in law, Ronald F (Viens II), and enjoyed and complimented his cooking regularly, but most of all she was grateful for the love and care she knew you have for her most loved daughter and granddaughter. As for me, her only child. She brought me up, mostly on her own, with courage during a time when that was not in favor. She worked hard, gave up much, so that I would only know love and security. She taught me what family, love and loyalty meant. She was my strength and support when I needed her most and even when I didn’t know that I did. I was proud to be your daughter.
She loved us all so well, and we in turn, will miss her profoundly.
LOVE~ A willingness to prioritize another's well-being or happiness above your own.
Memorial contributions may be made in Joan’s name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Pl., Memphis, TN 38105-1905 or the Boston Children’s Hospital, 401 Park Dr., Suite 602, Boston, MA 02215.