Ada Stoute (nee Moore) was born August 14, 1935 on the tiny island of Barbados in the West Indies. She was raised with her 2 brothers (O’Neil and Cameron) and 2 sisters (Ina and Etheline) in the county of St. John’s. Her mother died from cancer when she was around 11 years old, I think. Her name was Winnifred. Her father lived to a very old age. Despite being the youngest in her family, she left Barbados when she was about 18 years old for England, determined to work and bring her brothers and sisters to live with her. She left her first born daughter, Julie, with my father’s mother. In those days, this was common practice. There were no paternity tests; the child was given the once over by the family and if the child resembled the father, that was that. First she sent for my father, Randall Stoute, and they were married in London. Then, one by one, she brought her brothers and sisters and daughter to England. Her second daughter, Angela (me), was born in England, June 19, 1963. Her youngest daughter, Susan, was born August 10, 1966 in Toronto.
My mom was born Ramona Jean Rea, July 16th, 1933, in Listowel, Ontario. At least that is what her birth certificate says. Her birth certificate, however, was issued on April 15th, 1933, three months prior to her birth date.
One of my earliest memories of my mother is how she would put in my contact lens (named “Mike”) every morning when I was three years old. How I would endlessly tell her, “I think I lost Mike,” whereupon she would search my eye and say, “look up, look down” until my eye would begin to water and she would say, “Don’t worry, it’s okay, Mike’s just taking abath”. I would continuously lose Mike; my mother would continuously search. And inevitably she would find Mike.
My mother is the Queen of non sequiturs, talks through my plays, takes photos of everything, sets a good table, rages against spilt milk, is stubbornly eccentric and a good person to have with you in an emergency. I feel like I’m her when I’m sitting up straight, pulling on a fingernail, watching the crowd with a half smile, unsure whether to join in or flee.
My mother was born Julia Veronica Szappanos in Szarvas, Hungary on June 16, 1933. Her mother, Margit (Lazar) Szappanos and father Janos Szappanos were performers with a dance act that toured Europe under the name “Rita and Ray”.
Janos was also a circus performer and developed a blindfolded knife‐throwing act with Margit. Shortly after my mother’s birth, due to the busy traveling schedule her parents had, they moved to Szeged, Hungary to live with her grandparents, Janos Lazar and Juliana (Karolyi) Lazar. Her grandparents had a small farm with an attached bakery, and her grandfather Janos was a master baker. My mother’s grandparents raised her and her parents dropped in from time to time as their touring schedule allowed (she was always thrilled to spend time with her dad, who did dote on her, but she described her mother as “distant”). My mother had a happy childhood helping with chores on the farm (loved the animals especially) and described herself as a tomboy, climbing trees and getting into fistfights with the local boys.