It was the year 1950 in a town located in the West Center of Mexico. It was a small city in a semi dessert area that was a rich place because in its valleys there were tin and copper mines. Here, French and Spanish immigrant found their new home after exiled from Europe in eighteenth century. I was born as a second child of a wealthy family, and I carried with me their traditions and heritage.
Writing our mother’s story was a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect upon her life. And what a life she had. Our mother was born in the small village of Mehta,in the Punjab in India. The year would be a guess because no one kept birth or death records in her village, probably sometime around 1910.
Pauline Olivia Verigin was born on Dec. 11, 1904 on a homestead in south eastern Saskatchewan, near Tisdale and Star City. She was the first child of newly immigrated Russian peasants Anna and Peter Verigan. Her father was truly disappointed she was not a boy to help with the harsh farm existence they were facing. So five years later when her brother John arrived on the scene , followed in 2 more years by brother Peter, she was virtually relegated to the dictates of the three men in her world. Pauline was the maid, chief kitchen and household servant for the family from an extremely young age. She also worked in the garden and looked after the animals, including cleaning out barns and coops and milking cows.
My mother, Sigrid Herta Rausch, maiden name Pietrzyk, was born on July 1, 1914, the fifth of nine children born to a chain of three consecutive married couples. Her mother had remarried when her first husband died. My mother was the first child of her mother's second marriage. They were landowners, raised horses, poultry, pigs, and owned a brick factory.
There is a photo of mother Elisabeth, my favourite photo, taken in 1954, she looks so happy and as I have always remembered, beautiful. It was the most special event of her life; she was to be presented to the newly crowned Queen of England in Ceylon.
My mother died on a bright sunny Easter Sunday morning when I was six years old... It was April 5th, 1931. My brother Bob was four and my sister Kathleen was eight. That was the worst day of my life until my daughter Maryann died when she was 42 years old. She was taken to the hospital on April 5th and died six days later leaving a 12 year old daughter, Kylie, and a nine year old son Matthew. That was worse. Mother and Maryann were two of a kind.
It’s fortunate for our family that when the Rev. Alick Trendell of London, England, applied to work as an Anglican missionary, he was given a bulky beaverskin coat and sent to Alberta, Canada. For there he met Etta Wood – artist, schoolteacher, and one of this country’s first female hockey players. Three days after they were introduced, Alick proposed; four years after that, in 1936, my mother was born in Wetaskiwin.
My Mother was born to a Christian family on May 25, 1912 in Rangoon, Burma and was fifth in a family of six boys and six girls. Her name was Beaulah, Muriel, Edna, May Andrews. Her Mother was from South India and dark and her Father was from England and white with red hair. Even though he was the only child he was ostracized by his family for marrying an Indian whereupon he changed his last name, we think from Bean to Andrews which was his Mother’s maiden name. We never knew anything about my grandfather’s family, except that his father was supposed to have been an Admiral in the Navy. Her Dad worked as a rice mill Engineer and they lived in a house built over a graveyard. As we were growing up we heard many a ghost story from my Mum about that old graveyard!
With few facts and fewer memories, it is not easy to paint a comprehensive picture of the totality, the gestalt of a person. Be that as it may, the following is an attempt to present, as clearly as is possible, a straightforward, honest depiction of my mother, unclouded by sentimentality and bias. These are the facts, as I know them, as pertain to my mother’s life. Let the facts, few though they may be, speak for themselves.
Note: as this is not my story, but my mother’s, I use the pseudonyms Dor for my mother, and Demo to denote my father out of respect for their anonymity. As far as I know, they are both still alive and would prefer this. That my father is being as forthcoming as he now is about mother and the details of our lives together is a truly wonderful thing, and I thank him for that. After a life of denial, it can't be easy, and is testament to his good character.
Patricia Simons was a prairie Girl. From 1922 when she was born in her Aunt Mary’s house in Wawota Saskatchewan, until 2008 when she passed on in the Alpine town of Revelstoke, B.C., Mom held that vast prairie sky dear to her heart. She loved the soul-searching, body drenching heat of the summers and the chest-numbing, breath-freezing cold in the winter. She loved big open blue skies. She felt hemmed in by the mountains and the sea. Hemmed in by Dad and his mother and possibly even all five of us kids. She loved the rough and tumble wide-open for anything sense of the prairie.