Vivien Brennan

Event Name 1

St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Cemetery
Boiestown, New Brunswick, Canada
Burial at St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Cemetery.

Obituary of Vivien Brennan

It is with sadness, love and gratitude that we bid farewell to our beloved mother, Maryanna Vivien (Swazey) Brennan, AKA Viv, Vivien, Toots, Tootie. She died on Wednesday Feb 21,2024 at the Drew Nursing Home in Sackville NB surrounded by family. She was predeceased by her husband Joe, her parents Fred and Mary Swazey, her brothers Lawrence and Lloyd, their wives, Annie and Patricia, her sister Doreen Stewart and husband Harley, her nephews Tim, David and Tommy, along with many beloved relatives on Dad’s side. She will be dearly missed by her three daughters and their families: Debra Gillespie (Mike), Dawn Henry (Dave), and Denise Johnston (Jeff), along with her brothers Vincent (Hazel), Darrell (Georgette), Jim (Caroline) and their families. Mum loved and was proud of her 5 grandchildren: Jordan (Angela), Mark, Elizabeth (Rosben), Kathryn (Jefferson) and Sia. She was also blessed with four great grandchildren: Liam, Cian, Jack and Raymond. Her nieces, nephews and their children were very special to Mum and were among those who she saw regularly over the years, sharing in their lives from the time they were born and into their adult lives. Her great nieces and nephews were frequent visitors to the Drew, the youngest taking turns riding on Mum’s walker as she pushed them through the hallways where she lived, delighting not only the children and herself, but also the residents and staff.

As the eldest of seven (1 sister and five brothers) Mum learned to be tough, funny, bossy, creative and very hard working. She had an attention to detail that we as her children certainly didn’t appreciate, especially when it came to dusting the legs of the chairs or cleaning the bathroom. With that said we’ve gone on to appreciate those lessons, and the many other responsibilities and obligations to those beyond our own selves. Her quick wit and Swazey sarcasm was light hearted, never mean spirited, and
another reason that people were drawn to her. Be it family, friends or customers at McCloskey’s store, where she worked for close to 50 years, she was loved by all she encountered. Her constant smile, good nature and genuine interest in those she met endeared her in the hearts of all. She finally retired in the early 2000’s at the age of 74 after pain in her back was diagnosed as severe osteoporosis with three fractured vertebrae. Not long before that she was still papering the walls at home and painting the
ceilings in her little house. With the support of family and friends Mum had continued to live on her own after Dad died in 1999; after her diagnosis it became clear that a move was needed to better manage the condition. An apartment overlooking the banks of the beautiful Miramichi River became open and the move “up the road” ensued. As usual, the NB family was on board with this and with all her future moves, packing and hauling and cleaning and donating and doing whatever task was required after 45
years in the same home. Riding on the back of the half ton, alongside the old upright piano, enroute to her apartment building was the icing on the cake for all who had helped. Allegedly the whoops of laughter rivalled those of the Dungarvon Whooper himself.

As you’ve likely gathered by now Mum was a skilled pianist, though often playing to a tough crowd, i.e. THE FAMILY as key changes were always demanded for our alto voices, a task she did with little effort. Growing up, we loved when family and friends came over for dance parties and singsongs, Mum on the piano, Jim the guitar, the room ripe with cigarette smoke and an abundance of beverage, so characteristic of house parties in the 60s and 70s. We would lay at the bottom of the beds, supposedly sleeping, peeking out the bedroom door to catch glimpses of the shenanigans. When she moved to “Moncton Residence” at the age of 88 and then to the Drew Nursing Home a year and a half later her piano days were again ramping up after a brief hiatus during her apartment years. She was in demand, much to her chagrin, and never really understood the immense joy she brought to others through this gift of music. The common room would slowly fill as staff and residents walked or wheeled near the piano to hear the old wartime tunes. She had a bit of a legacy at the Drew: top of the walking club, the entertainer, rosary hoarder, the “cookie monster”, filling the basket of her walker with cookies for a “rainy day”. Perhaps we should add “3 time survivor of Covid” and more than a few times surviving pneumonia despite her condition of asthma. As her brothers would say, “she’s tougher than a boiled owl”. She was loved dearly at the Drew and treated with kindness and love. This was very apparent to us as we bore witness to the gentleness and respect shown to her by the staff during those last several days of her life. Mum had been a “woman of her time” with much attention given to the “whiteness of the whites” on the clothesline, the regiment of weekly sheet changing, dusting, oven cleaning and the “sos’ing of the burners” to name a few of the regular chores. She taught us to iron the washcloths, and when we were finally old enough (maybe 6?) we graduated to pillowcases . Two of us daughters (not the baby) still find
solace in the act of ironing and become transported back to this time when ironing was a required art. Although born in the late 1920s Mum in many ways was far ahead of her time; she had an openness to and acceptance of all people. Perhaps that came from the mix of people she saw daily at the store. Her grandson Mark recently put it his way “I loved her for being accepting of people different than her, even in the times before liberal cities were doing it, let alone tiny villages on the Miramichi”. This is no small
thing and is somewhat surprising how a woman born in 1927 was more open to the concept of inclusion and equality than some people 50 years her junior.

Mum loved a good - sometimes inappropriate - joke, and was somewhat renowned for her ability to change the words of songs to make them funny and less age appropriate. She loved animals (though she raced to wash her hands after touching them) but was much less fond of “those damn snakes”. She was known to have hysterically called a brother to come to our house IMMEDIATELY because she thought she saw a snake in the garden, which was many yards away - she had been inside the house the whole time. Needless to say much teasing ensued by dad and her brothers. Her laughter could turn to comfort in a heartbeat if one needed consoling. When her niece needed a shoulder after an upsetting incident at school Mum’s response was never “what did YOU do to cause this” but rather “you did nothing wrong - there’s nothing wrong with you. I know those parents and that kid didn’t have a chance.” I may be paraphrasing but it was exactly what was needed in that moment. There are so many more things to say about our mother, but I’ll end with this little story. She and my aunt and their friends had their own little alert system. The calls to each other might be to warn them to “close their blinds” because a salesperson was heading their way. Likewise, if the ambulance or RCMP flew by the house towards the village Mum would call her sister, to let her know what was happening, and then her friend Liz to see if the emergency vehicle was heading up the hill past her place or if it had taken the fork in the other direction. This would help them better approximate where the emergency might be occurring. 24/7 News has nothing on the women of the “number 8 highway LIVE information team”.

Mum was a woman of steadfast faith, and optimism. She prayed constantly and for everyone, for every need. She detested conflict and sought only peace in our lives. As her great nephew Matt wrote, “she was a friend/mother/grandmother to everyone she met and everyone loved her. Heaven certainly gained an angel but her kindness is still needed on this earth”. Perhaps we can take these words to heart and be the kindness to others that was so characteristic of our mother. Rest in peace sweet Mama – you
are one of a kind and shall never be forgotten.

Services will be announced later this spring or summer. In Viviens memory, donations made to the Alzheimers Society or to the charity of your choice would be appreciated. 

Arrangments have been entrusted to Fergusons Riverview Funeral Centre and Crematorium, 214 Pine Glen Rd. Riverview, NB.

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