My mother was born on May 5th, 1917, in Rochester, New York. Her parents both emigrated from Eastern Europe lured by the promise of a better life. Her father, Abraham Kay (born Kosovsky), came from Minsk, Bylorussia in 1911, and her mother, Edith Garelick, from Poland in 1913. They were married in New York City on December 22, 1913, when Abe was 19 and Edith was 17. Read the rest of this entry »
Our little house on Hoskins Road in North Vancouver was one of the first cabins built in the old-growth forests of the North Shore. There in the kitchen sat my mother – jet-lagged from her long flight from Australia, holding my newborn daughter in her arms, cooing and muttering a mixture of Yiddish and Hungarian blessings over her first precious grandchild. I was stunned by the vision of the immense cultural changes we three women had witnessed. My mother had grown up in a small village in Czechoslovakia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They had no electricity; she never learned to ride a bicycle, let alone drive a car! And here was her grandchild on the threshold of a fantastic, unimagined digital age. My amazing mother had lived to see this earth-altering shift, which meant surviving through two world wars and the Holocaust. Read the rest of this entry »
My mother, Channa Veller Milner, died of a heart attack in 1981. She was in her 70s. It wasn’t until after her death that I learned she was more than what I had experienced with her. My father had shared stories about his family with me but my mother never spoke of her childhood or family experiences. Read the rest of this entry »
My Mother Mary, no, not baby Jesus’ mother, but my actual mother, who goes by Mary, told me that when she was born in South Africa, her parents asked the attending nurse to name their baby girl because they only felt confident giving her a Chinese name. So my mother was given the name she has used most in her life…by a stranger. Perhaps, in that moment when my grandparents placed that heavy responsibility upon her, that nurse raised her eyes to the white ceiling or a fluorescent light bulb in that hospital room, and she prayed for Jesus’ guidance. And maybe in that nurses’ heart, He spoke to her excitedly, in a moment of inspiration, “Hey, how ’bout after MY ma? Mary!” Read the rest of this entry »
In another culture, she’d have been called ‘chippy’ or ‘cheeky’. Her family thought of her as vibrant, energetic, and fun. Brooklyn born in 1920, Ruth Berlin thrived on her East European Jewish families’ love. Her father, born Saul Gorodoevski, became Gordievsky, then Gordon, via Ellis Island’s name editing tradition. Saul (or Chaim, or Jamie), was brilliant and scholarly. A fashion designer, he overcame immigrant barriers, later taking the professional name James Gordon. Ruth’s beautiful mother Henrietta was rumoured to descend from gypsy queens. Read the rest of this entry »
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Two years ago, my brother, two sisters, my husband and myself were all retired. None of us have nine to five jobs. We all acknowledge this with smug self satisfied little smiles and self congratulatory glints in our half shut eyes. In this same year, my 85 year old mother, was laid off from her job. She is a legal secretary. Her boss turned 91 and felt that he only needed one of his two employees, as work is not as abundant as he hoped. My mom was devastated.
Read the rest of this entry »