Marguerite  Reiter's Memorial

Marguerite Reiter
(1928 - 2013)

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General Details

Name: Mrs Marguerite Reiter
Maiden Name: Dietz
Gender: Female
Age: 84 years old
Lived: Saturday, 1 December 1928 - Monday, 22 April 2013

My Story

Written by Sheryl Herle of Toronto, Ontario – eldest granddaughter of Marguerite.

On behalf of our family, I’d like to begin by extending a sincere thank you to all of you for attending this service with our family today.

I regret not being able to join everyone in person for this special celebration and thank my cousin, Shanna, the youngest grand-daughter, for volunteering to share this eulogy on behalf of us all.

While the passing of loved one is never easy, it is an honour for me to be writing this tribute to our grandmother and sharing with you a little more about how she touched each of our lives. “Granny” as she was affectionately known to all of us, was a very special lady to 4 children, 9 grand-children and 8 great grand-children.

When we reflect back now on Granny’s life, a few key themes emerge – the continual hard work she embraced; her selfless dedication to her family; and her “keep calm and carry on” personality.

Coming into this world at the start of the Great Depression, Granny never knew a life of wealth or abundance. As one of five children in a typical Saskatchewan farm family, Granny started to learn the art of planting, harvesting, preserving and cooking from the time she was able to toddle down the rows in the garden. By the time she was a young teen, she easily could have outdone Martha Stewart with any household chore or baking contest!  As a smart student who really enjoyed school, Granny’s wish was to become a teacher. However, her family couldn’t afford to keep her in school. As was the custom at the time, young women were quickly presented with just a few choices as they approached adulthood – join the convent, get married, or help the family out by getting a domestic job that brought in a little income. Luckily for us, Granny was smart enough to find a job as a household helper with the Reiter family – putting her natural talents to use helping a family with 9 kids…..and also putting herself in the path of her future husband!

I remember sitting with Granny one evening (I was old enough to be invited into the evening ritual of sharing a Labbatt’s Blue at the kitchen table) and I was pressing her for a romantic tale about how she’d met Grandpa. As per Granny’s quiet personality…she didn’t offer many details but she did describe how she would catch Louis watching her as she went about her chores. At one point, there was a long pause and a grin…and then the story ended with her saying “And then one day he asked me to a dance…”

Seems it was that easy!  By the time she was 20, she and Louis were staring down at one teeny little Darlene – facing their first real life challenge as a couple in figuring out how to sustain a very premature daughter long before neo-natal care was offered.  I am a little biased but I think they did a great job of nurturing my “little mom” and then continuing to expand their family with three more wonderful kids – Yvonne, Tim and Bernice.

As a young mother, Granny’s 20’s and 30’s were filled with the usual motherly duties of diapers, feedings, laundry, cleaning, cooking (including growing/raising all food), nursing sick kids, etc. Somehow she also found time to volunteer with the CWL and make time for fun. We’ve all been treated to a number of stories about the large family gatherings and the house parties with their Tramping Lake friends (with Grandpa on the guitar and Uncle Pete pumping out a tune on the accordion).

I don’t remember the Tramping Lake house but certainly came to love spending time with Granny in their home in North Battleford and at the cabin at Pelican Point. Once again, the theme of hard work prevailed! Every nook and cranny in Granny’s two households was spotlessly clean and incredibly organized. To us grandchildren, the house and cabin were huge and full of little treasures. As adults, we now understand the level of behind-the-scenes effort that Granny constantly went to in order to ensure that her grandchildren’s favourites were on hand – whether that was a simple package of balloons, The Old Maid cards in the china cabinet, a fresh supply of garage sale comic books in the drawer at the cabin or our favourite foods – the freezies, the cans of juice just for the kids, the Alpha Bits and Cocoa Pebbles (always set out the night before alongside Grandpa’s Cornflakes), the green mints and the Kraft caramels in the candy jar …and the endless supply of cookies that Uncle Tim taught us to sneak straight out of the freezer!! Just think about how many times she heard that candy jar lid tinkle but pretend she didn’t notice we were filling our pockets, or how many times she would have gone down to the freezer and smiled when she found half empty containers!

We now understand the love she was sharing with us through every little thing she did for us. And…we can also look back and see right through her master plan of getting deep into our hearts through our stomachs! 

Granny was never the kind of grandmother who pinched our cheeks or smothered us in sloppy kisses (thank goodness!). She also wasn’t the expressive or whiny type who’d phone and say, “I miss you. You haven’t visited me in a week”.  But, she’d be the first to phone and subtly let you know that the bread dough was rising in that much used enamel bowl, or that she was planning a traditional German meal on Friday. She was crafty! She knew we’d be there in a jiffy! Feeding us was not just about getting calories into us, it was her way of surrounding herself with her family and keeping us close.

We certainly all learned to cook under her guidance but I wonder if she knows how many other things we learned from her? There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t have a momentary thought about Granny – whether I’m:

  • at the grocery store selecting a tomato (remembering how she taught me to choose a good one as I’d crawl under the bed to pick from the ones ripening in the dark),
  • playing solitaire on my Blackberry (a constant game at her table),
  • puttering around in my garden (just planted my morning glories after soaking the seeds like she taught me),
  • pulling out one of her old mixing bowls to bake with my daughter,
  • or,  pulling out the sewing machine to mend a seam and still being amazed that I made my own prom dress with her help in grade 11.

We each have our own precious memories and will continue to cherish all the little things we learned from her.

In closing, it seems only fitting to talk about the one big thing I think we all learned from her…and that was her way of keeping calm and carrying on no matter what life brought her way throughout her 84 years.

We saw her face everyday challenges like the messes we made as we took out every toy in the boathouse and dragged sand into the cabin. She’d never truly get angry with anything that happened…we might simply hear “Ay, yi, yi – You kids are getting on my nerves”. 

We also came to appreciate her practical solutions to everyday challenges – like the night time chamber pot in the early days at the cabin. I remember being grossed out and her simple solution was – “You can just deal with it or get the flashlight and go outside”. 

The same held true on hot summer days – her solution was to deal with the heat by just sitting around in her bra and shorts. Why bother with a tank top – we were family? (Sorry, Granny, I had to share that. It still cracks us up to think of how fast you could dart back into the house to get a shirt when the neighbour came over!)

We also know she faced some of life’s toughest challenges with the bravest face and the same calm manner.  Whether it was the daily challenge of having to raise a family on a tight budget, nursing sick kids (children and us grandchildren), supporting her adult kids through their own challenges or caring for Grandpa in his final years and then having to figure out how to reinvent her life as a widow… she faced it all with grace.

She was a remarkably strong and capable lady who will be missed by us all…

 

 

  

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Biography

Fathers Name: Jack Dietz
Mothers Name: Rose Bitz
Spouse's Name: Louis Jacob Reiter
Children's Names: Darlene, Yvonne, Tim, Bernice
Country of Birth: Canada
Country of Residence: Canada
City of Residence: North Battleford, Saskatchewan
Marital Status: Widowed
Religion: Catholic

Interests

Passing

Place of Passing: North Battleford
Date of Passing: 22 April 2013
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