Gladys Ina Marie, my mother, was born April 26, 1916 in Sarnia, Ontario to Emile and Emma Burge, their 4th child and 3rd girl. At 18, Emile had emigrated alone from Sweden, courted and won Emma, a 2nd generation Swede from a large family in Bay City, Michigan, who initially shunned him because of his accent. Together they moved to Canada. ‘Papa’ was a traveling lumber salesman for years; then operated a Shell gas station beside their house.
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.