How do I know my mother’s life? From memory? Perhaps from anecdotes she relayed during our long walks to and from the grocery store. Still other parts feel sewn into me, as if she deposited them into my imagination for safe keeping.
My mother, Hilda Margaret Hardie (née Salter) was born May 24, 1914, in Manchester, England. She was the first born of Maggie and Alfred Salter. Maggie was a housewife and Alfred a leather artisan who specialized in violin cases. She grew up in a row house on Milton Street, in the area of Manchester captured by the long running soap opera, Coronation Street.
My mother. She was born in Edmonton in 1929, the youngest of three sisters.
Her name is Doris Elaine (I can't think where these names come from) Gregory. Her father, Len, was a plumber and her mother, Leone, had been a nurse. They met prior to the First World War and decided to hold off marriage until Len came back - “just in case”. He came back, they got married and started their family. Len was from England, Belpur, and had come to Canada with many of his 8 siblings.
Gladys Ina Marie, my mother, was born April 26, 1916 in Sarnia, Ontario to Emile and Emma Burge, their 4th child and 3rd girl. At 18, Emile had emigrated alone from Sweden, courted and won Emma, a 2nd generation Swede from a large family in Bay City, Michigan, who initially shunned him because of his accent. Together they moved to Canada. ‘Papa’ was a traveling lumber salesman for years; then operated a Shell gas station beside their house.
I am writing to you and about you on my birthday. My first birthday with my daughter. I am surely blessed. Where do I start?
I just want to tell you I miss you. You would like Sapphire Mignon. When she smiles at me my heart explodes and all is perfect. All is as it should be. How did you feel when I was born?
My mom, Margaret Veronica Cahill (known as Peggy to her friends), was from Dundas, Ontario. I’m not actually sure what year she was born, but the date was April 8th, making her a feisty Aries ram. It must have been in the mid...
"I was an oddball right from the start - a really weird kid. I smashed all the neighbour's flower pots and smacked their newborn baby at age 3 - I don't know why... I guess I wasn't getting enough attention. I went across the street into the forest at 4, and picked bleeding hearts to sell door to door for money for my piggy bank. I faked sick from school, because I hated being harassed by bullies, and getting in trouble for colouring outside the lines." My mum - speaking about herself.
“Oh, yes, let’s, it will be such fun”, personified the way Patricia (Patsy to her friends) lived her life. Whatever she did, she did fully; whoever she talked to had her complete attention. She was a woman of great accomplishment and great passion. She died from complications of Alzheimer’s in 2004, as her mother had before her. I miss her tremendously.
Marilyn… I got your notice at a very synchronistic moment… and so I decided to splat on the page and send it off to you. It did cross my mind that my mother might not like the idea of her world being splatted on the page and sent off for someone to read… but then again I thought… to bear witness is to validate in some way and I think my mother has in so many ways not been validated… and so… dot, dot, dot… I will validate away.