My mother, Margaret Maureen McIntosh, began her life in a small town in Lancashire, England on 29 July, 1930. She was born to Mary (May) Elizabeth and Thomas Hope. In 1933, a year after her brother Arthur John (AJ) was born, May took the children and left Tom. This began a life of constant moving. Maureen never did find out what it was that Tom did to warrant May leaving, but it must have been an intolerable situation. Society dictated separation and divorce to be a disgrace, so May told her children and anyone else who asked that Tom was dead. Maureen knew he was not, yet she followed her mother’s wishes and never spoke of her father.
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.
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, 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.
When put together, the threads I have of my mother’s life resemble a kind of open woven fabric, a shawl perhaps – a few bright strands with lots of holes. Still it's comfortable enough to wrap myself in and even find some warmth.
Elizabeth Howison – “Betty”, was born in Deadwater, England on October 17, 1927. Born a twin, she had a brother, Donald George, who died at the age of six weeks. On his death certificate it claimed “failure to thrive”. I think my mother always felt guilty for being the strong one.
My mom, Dorothy Elizabeth Hodgins (nee Dodd, yes she was Dot Dodd), was born in Fort William, BC in the 20's. One of four kids, her closest sibling was my aunt Shirley who was only one and a half years her senior. They were perfect sisters - total opposites - perfect partners in crime. Shirl was brash and beautiful, whereas my mom was the sweet, innocent one. Shirl's nickname for my mom was Doe. Appropriate, I always thought, because my mom had big hazel eyes and resembled a doe.
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.