Writing our mother’s story was a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect upon her life. And what a life she had. Our mother was born in the small village of Mehta,in the Punjab in India. The year would be a guess because no one kept birth or death records in her village, probably sometime around 1910.
My mother, Sigrid Herta Rausch, maiden name Pietrzyk, was born on July 1, 1914, the fifth of nine children born to a chain of three consecutive married couples. Her mother had remarried when her first husband died. My mother was the first child of her mother's second marriage. They were landowners, raised horses, poultry, pigs, and owned a brick factory.
There is a photo of mother Elisabeth, my favourite photo, taken in 1954, she looks so happy and as I have always remembered, beautiful. It was the most special event of her life; she was to be presented to the newly crowned Queen of England in Ceylon.
My mother, Channa Veller Milner, died of a heart attack in 1981. She was in her 70s. It wasn’t until after her death that I learned she was more than what I had experienced with her. My father had shared stories about his family with me but my mother never spoke of her childhood or family experiences.
Bess Ready was a wonderful mother. God knows, without her and the way she dealt with others in this life, who knows how we would have turned out. That’s particularly referring to the seven of us—the six kids she raised, and dad. Ultimately we all became what we became because of her, at least the good parts of us.
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 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.
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.