My Mom, Laurel Allard, was the firstborn of two daughters to Ida and Silas Pugh. Born in 1936, the middle of the dirty thirties in Port Hardy, Vancouver Island. Port Hardy is well named. It’s a remote town on the northern tip of a large, forested rock out on the edge of the continent.
My mother, Nancy, was born in 1931, the second youngest of 12 children, the eighth daughter among nine sisters, raised on a sprawling farm in West Saanich on Vancouver Island. Her father, a peasant from southern China, arrived in Victoria in 1907. After settling on small farm he rented, he asked a friend if he had a sister he could take as a wife. But the promised sister was frightened at the prospect of marrying a complete stranger in an even stranger land, and her family, desperate to honour the arrangement, turned to an older sister, my grandmother – already considered an “old maid” at the age of 21 – and asked if she would go instead. At 44, her husband-to-be was more than twice my grandmother’s age; he was 61 when my mother was conceived.
JANE DIXON-WARREN: def: power tool wielding feminist laced with irrationality, tempered with practicality, sprinkled with theatricality but no sentimentality. Diana Madeline Jane Bushby (aka Jane) was born in London, UK on JANUARY 25 1935, the 2nd child Stanley and Ruth (aka “B”) Bushby.
19 Jul Angela Parson’s story of AdaAda 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.