My mother celebrated her 90th birthday with a cruise through the Panama Canal, reclaiming her first married name (Clark), writing a resume on her new iPad and taking a job as an executive assistant. They say Capricorns are late bloomers, and although she has always been a trendsetter, Violet seems to have been born to show me how it is possible to be resilient and graceful through significant change
On January 14, 1921, Violet Jesse Rourke was the 9th child born to Edward and Effie Rourke on their farm in Little River, on the outskirts of Quebec City. She was the only one of her ten siblings to be birthed in Quebec’s Jeffrey Hale Hospital. Perhaps it was because two of her sisters had died as babies before Violet that the doctor was taking precautions. It’s certain that she was given extra care to make sure she survived and thrived. It may also be this “special” status that paved the way in later life for her role as the family matriarch. Read the rest of this entry »
Violet Alice Marks was born on September 15, 1918, the eleventh of fourteen children, to Katie and Sam Marks in Langbank, Saskatchewan. She slid into the world so quietly, her mother said, “I will name her Violet.”The midwife replied, “With those big brown eyes I’d call her Susan.” The name Vi stuck, but she would soon prove that she was no shrinking violet.
Mum writes in her autobiography: “My first memory was being out in the moonlight with my brothers and sisters, looking up at the moon and the stars. The night was warm; we ran, romped, and squealed ecstatically. It was then I realized I was a person.” Read the rest of this entry »
In the 1920’s, every Sunday, Eliska Kadlecova, her brothers and sister would take walks with their father through the streets of Prague. He was an engineer and taught them the history of the buildings, the architectural styles and the myths that make Prague what it is. Eli, my mother, loved her city and thought she would never leave. Read the rest of this entry »
The Macedonian village, Zeleniche, under Greek rule, welcomed the birth of Vassilka Shikleff around 1915. She was the third of four children born to Magda and Ristos Shikleff. Their eldest child, Alexandra, would thirty years later bring Vassilka to Canada. Their second eldest, brother, Turpche, would be cut out of her life when she learned how he had neglected and abused their mother. Her youngest brother Yanni . . . yeah, well, Yanni . . . Read the rest of this entry »
Her name was Karolina, but her close friends, those who knew her in “the old country” called her Lola. She was the second youngest of five children born to Anton and Mary (Baker) Schnurer on November 26th, 1903, in a small Polish town called Rownia. Part of the house that Lola grew up in was leased to the local police. Her father, a carpenter, died of pneumonia when Lola was only three years old. Her mother was a nurse and midwife. Sadly, when Lola was about fourteen, her beloved mother died of typhoid fever, which she contracted while nursing the sick during an epidemic. I have a picture of Lola with her mother and sisters, but she didn’t speak of them, so I don’t know what my mother did at this time. A family friend told me my mother delivered him, so maybe she took on her mother’s job as midwife. Read the rest of this entry »
My mother died on a Tuesday in September of a massive pulmonary embolism. She collapsed to her knees and took her last breath at the age of fifty-three. She had been born with a particular set of challenges and had augmented those challenges with poor choices. Read the rest of this entry »
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! Read the rest of this entry »
Judy is petite and fair, with a dimpled smile, straight hair, and hazel eyes. In 1943 in Regina, Saskatchewan, she was born Judith Diane Robertson to Kenneth Robertson and Ruby Merle McInnis.
Ruby was the last born of six girls; Jennie and Alice died from the Spanish influenza in 1918, sparing Edith, Margaret (Marg), Mary (Bun), and Ruby. Judy’s Gram, born Louise Regina Undrider, had come from Odessa, Russia to marry Edward Bruce McInnis of Prince Edward Island in 1903. Read the rest of this entry »
My mother was born Nov. 28, 1933 in Camp Lister, BC on the farm which was built by her parents, Margery and Fred Powers who had emigrated from England. She was the middle child, having a brother, thirteen years older and a sister, four years younger. They were among the original settlers in the Creston Valley and it was a very hard life. The farmhouse was a small, very basic building with a kitchen, living room and 2 bedrooms with no electricity until later years. My mother shared one of the bedrooms with her younger sister, Betty, sleeping in a double bed. The house was heated by a coal stove which also doubled as an oven. The bathroom was a wooden outhouse, and potties were used at night. Washing and bathing was done in large galvanized tubs. Read the rest of this entry »
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. Read the rest of this entry »