My mom was more than a mother, she was my best friend. Her funeral was at the United Church in Whitehorse, Yukon. My dad and I were in the front row along with aunts, uncles, and my granny. Several friends and colleagues filled the church and accompanied us to a graveside ceremony, followed by a reception at our home. I was thirteen years old.
Anne Kulchysky was born on December 22, 1938 on a farm near Gronlid, Saskatchewan. Her parents, Fedora Moskal and Mykola Kulchysky were both immigrants from Ukraine, who traveled to Canada in 1911 and 1913 respectively. They married in 1920 and proudly farmed their quarter section of land.
Last October, three generations of our Lee and Young family burned incense and paper money to celebrate our Mom, Sister, Aunt and Grandma’s life, to help her on the journey to her next life - her “Home-going” as they say in Taiwan.
Miss Martha Brunner (born October, 29, 1931) is a missionary in Ecuador. She is known for establishing churches, a maternity clinic, a Christian school, and an orphanage in the Pifo valley.
Martha Louise Brunner was born in Pennsylvania. She was the third of Rev. Henry Brunner and Mary Luceta Brunner (Hunting)’s four children. Richard and Mary were four and three years her senior; and David 7 years her junior. Her father was an evangelical minister and an architect, traits which would prove invaluable to Martha later on in her ministry.
Lilian Maria Andrea was born to Juan and Elvira Garcia on September 28, 1936 in the sleepy coastal town of Tuxpan, in Veracruz, Mexico.
Lilian was the firstborn of three children of the Garcia’s. She had a sister, Lourdes and later a brother, Juan Junior. However when Lilian was 3, Lourdes died aged 7 months from a fever that even in those times should have been easily cured.
Simone Grenier was born on December 13th, 1930 in St. Prime Quebec on a dairy farm, the fourth youngest in a Catholic family of 11. She had her father Antoine’s brown hair and eyes, a light sprinkling of freckles and just the slightest gap in her front teeth which would later be replaced by dentures. Her graceful features came from her petite mother Mathilda.
During the week, Simone and her siblings walked to the local schoolhouse. In winter, they wore moccasins made by her father and thick woolen socks knitted by her mother. The entire family attended church every Sunday travelling by horse and wagon.
Mathilda and Antoine encouraged their children to be proud and cultured. They were to speak well, dress well, and to contribute to the community.
Florence Jeanette Thompson was affectionately named “Shorts” or “Shorty” by her tall, charming father, Monty. She was, however, anything but short on spunk, impeccable taste or witchery intuition. Her life was a musical score that captured every mood and timbre. Pretty and blue-eyed, she loved to sing, dance, play the piano, and listen to the birds. She was quick to say, “No” and quick to say, “Yes”. She used baby talk and straight talk. You could talk to her; she didn’t mince words; she’d always surprise you. She lived in tiny backwoods cottages and grand mansions. She lost everything she owned and decorated homes with a credit card carte blanche. She lavished gifts on her loved ones. She had a doggie named Midge and one named Sir Salishan. She loved oatmeal, warm ovens, Coca Cola.
My mother, Aranka Csiszar, was born on October 22, 1935, in Mezofalva, Hungary, the middle one of Anna and Frank Csiszar’s seven children: Vilma, János, Annus, my mom, Eszti, Edit, and little Ferenc, born in June 1944.
Her father was a gentle spirit who didn’t believe in violence. She remembers checking his pockets for candies whenever he came home. Her mom spoke Romanian and Hungarian fluently and did the best she could for her family.
While waging war against the Soviet Union, Hungary engaged in secret peace negotiations with the United States and the United Kingdom. Hitler discovered this betrayal, and in 1944 German forces occupied Hungary. My mom’s father was conscripted to fight in the German army against the Russians, missing the birth of his youngest son.
My mother was born in 1934, in Nanjing, China. Her father was a secretary in the National Air Force. When she was three years old, the Sino-Japanese War started, and my mother and her family moved to the western part of China in the Szechuan province. Later three sisters and two brothers were born. My grandma had to work very hard. She was very diligent and talented. The whole family drank homemade soybean drink and home-prepared dishes. All six children wore warm clothes, hats, scarves and gloves that were hand-knit by my grandma.
When the Communists took over China, the family moved to Taiwan, where my mother finished high school and university. She was good at all types of sports — softball (catcher position), volleyball, basketball (even though she was the shortest in her family) and competitive swimming. At Taiwan Normal University she trained as a teacher. She left Taiwan in 1958 to teach Chinese and Math in modern Hong Kong. My father also studied at Taiwan University and then went to work in Hong Kong as a social worker. They met through their University alumni association and in 1965 got married.
The weeks that separate the dry winds of summer from the relentless howl of a prairie winter are few and pass quickly. This is when my mother was born into a world falling headlong into the Great Depression. On October 4, 1930, Shirley became the last of four children born to Rose and Ernest French of Herbert, Saskatchewan. Her mother always called her Shirley Ann and it wasn’t until she applied for a passport in 1977 that she realized that she had no middle name after all.
Marcia Penfold’s arrival into the world was recorded on a small piece of brown paper in curly whirly Burmese script on the 19th of November, 1935. I have omitted her middle name as she has never liked it!