I was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario on November 23, 1961. My full name is Elizabeth Livia Giselle Sdraulig but family calls me Gigi and to everyone else I am known as Liz. I was christened Gigi by my older sister Sandra who couldn't say Giselle and called me Gigi...it stuck. The story I was told is that my father chose the name Giselle and when he passed away it hurt my Mom to hear it so she reverted to Elizabeth as my formal name.
My parents were both born in Italy. Mom came over as a young girl; Dad was in his late teens when he came. My first language at home was Italian and I didn't really speak English until I went to Kindergarten. I have been told that I really didn't speak at all except to family since I was very shy and stubborn :)
I was second born. My older sister Sandra was born in November of 1960, my brother Ron was born in January of 1963. My younger sister and the baby of the family, Linda, was born in January 1964. Yes, that means that my Mom had 4 children in 4 years. Unfortunately my Dad was killed when Linda was only a month old; I often wondered how many kids would be in the family if Dad had lived :)
Dad was a carpenter by trade and built a number of houses in the Thunder Bay and surrounding areas including both homes I lived in as a child. Mom was a teacher by profession, but through a variety of life's circumstances including the death of my father; she did not spend a lot of time in the profession of her choosing.
I was 12 when my Mom and two sisters were killed and only my brother and I survived a horrific car accident. Being raised thereafter by my grandmother had many trials and tribulations for me but we will leave those details for the book :) I would be remiss however if I didn't give a shout-out to a self-less family that took my brother and I under their wing and as a part of their family. I am speaking of Gord and Bobbi Law and their children Kerri and Craig. With them Ron and I learned to be a part of a normal family.
I left Thunder Bay at the age of 18 to go to Sheridan College in Oakville where I graduated from Early Childhood Education and Developmental Disabilities Worker.
It was during this time that I suffered the loss of the final member of my family - my brother Ron. I was 22 years old. In some ways this was the hardest to cope with because I had a chance to know him. Although, in other ways it was easier because I had a chance to say good-bye. I was prepared.
The irony of the deaths in the family occurred every 10 years was not lost on me or anyone else who knew the family history. It was the ultimate test to my sanity when Ron died in 1984 following my Dad in 1964 and my Mom and sisters in 1974.
I eventually married and had two children. Lydia Monica was born in 1988 in Oakville, Ontario. Her name is a collaboration of my Mom Livia and my sister Linda; Monica was her paternal grandmother. Lydia has many of the character traits that I remember in Linda. She is kind, sweet and gentle and the peacemaker. She knows when you need a hug and always has one ready for you. As a toddler when I held her close, she would pat me on the back. Christopher James was born in 1989 in Kentville, Nova Scotia. Chris has that mischievous quality combined with compassion and drive that I saw in Ron. Chris was named after one of my favourite singer/storytellers - Chris De Burgh. James commemorates both Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo and my brothers' best friend Jim Scali.
Today, they are both successful young adults. Mimicking my Mother's life, I raised my children on my own with no support (financial or otherwise) from their father. In the end, together we annihilated the stereotypes associated with single parent families and although we often struggled financially we didn't lack in love or fun.
iz me luigi :)