Last October, three generations of our Lee and Young family burned incense and paper money to celebrate our Mom, Sister, Aunt and Grandma’s life, to help her on the journey to her next life - her “Home-going” as they say in Taiwan.
My mother, Julia Mary Lorenz Neher, was born on October 31, 1920, in Bukovina, Romania, the illegitimate daughter of a 21 year old peasant girl named Theresa Paul. Before mom’s birth the Paul family were making plans to immigrate to Canada, specifically southern Saskatchewan, where mom’s grandfather had established himself some ten years earlier on a homestead near Wood Mountain. Their immigration process took longer than normal, because Theresa’s sister Rosa was disabled, and the Canadian government forbade invalids to enter Canada without proper documentation. The government also required that the family produce a signed petition guaranteeing that the Hungarian community would financially support Rosa.
Mom was born in Peterborough, Ontario, in 1909, second child to Michael and Margaret, and sister to older brother Emmett. Eleven more siblings would arrive in this wholesome Irish Catholic family, five sisters and six more brothers, but not until they moved to Vancouver in 1912. Michael provided a comfortable living for his large family with his lifelong career as a respected agent for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company or, as the family teasingly called it, Mother Met.
In Vancouver Mom was enrolled in the local school, Tecumseh Elementary, at 41st and Joyce. She enjoyed school. In reading, writing and arithmetic Mom fared well. Art was the challenge for her. One day, after handing in her assignment, a drawing of a book, the teacher looked at it quizzically and asked, “What is that supposed to be?” Blushing, Mom took back her picture and from then on seldom tried the art of drawing.
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.
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!
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.
My mom’s name is Nhan Thi Nguyen. She was born in North Vietnam in 1931. She grew up in a small village a few hours from Hanoi called Ha Dong. Her father’s last name was Nguyen and her mother’s was Dang.
My mother, Patricia Primrose Lazell, was born in Grays, Essex, England, on January 16, 1924. She was the daughter of Harry and Ethel, and the youngest of three children. Harry was a longshoreman at the Tilbury docks, and was a handsome 6’1” to Ethel’s 4’11”. Ethel had had polio as a child and wore a special boot. I remember my mother saying something about how her mother was bitterly self-conscious about her pronounced limp.
Ada 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 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.