Lain's Log

The Amazing Auntie Ray!

June 12/11.

On this, the eve of the possible long-awaited arrival of my Auntie Ray's first great-grandchild, it's fun to be writing about her! Ray Staples - (older sister of my late Mum), is 91. She's not like ANY 91-year-old you've ever met, (or will EVER meet!) - Outspoken, articulate, determined, down-to-earth, honest, funny and ever-stylish. - Don't even get me STARTED!

You may recognize her from her work on CITYLINE with Marilyn Denis. She appeared regularly on the show for many years as a guest design expert - (ALWAYS wearing a hat!)

Introducing - RAY STAPLES!!

FEISTY is the word that hits you when you encounter her. She's been that way ALL her life and I love her SO dearly. Carrie feels exactly the same way. Now, without our own Mother in our lives, Auntie Ray is our "surrogate Mum." She knows we're her nieces, but insists we have officially become her "daughters." That makes us very happy. Not only because of HER, but also because, as a result, it means her son, Kevan Staples, ("Mr. Rough Trade"), is our BROTHER, (instead of just our first cousin!) He's ALWAYS been a brother to us both. But now, it's official! Wish EVERYONE could know him! - Anyone who has met Kevan, please feel free to comment, as I'm sure you agree, - he's beyond phenomenal!

Carrie & Kev - Best cousin, best "brother" - best EVERYTHING! - and ABOUT to become, best "Grampa!" - Yikes! Egad! Gak!

I can FEEL the love in my eyes for this wonderful woman! As Kev would say about his Mum, "She da bomb!"

Carrie and I had lunch with Auntie Ray in the dining room of her seniors condo today. She INSISTED on paying for us!

Ray's humour always shines through!

It was a "no-dead-air-conversation," (as you know, from previous blogposts, that's what I crave!) There is NO such thing as a "dull moment" with Ray! That would be IMPOSSIBLE.

Auntie Ray with our beloved, late, Uncle Ev. They were married for 62 years.

All of her life, she was an artist and interior decorator/designer. She could envision what clients wanted before they even imagined it for themselves!

A friend of Auntie Ray's is Margot Austin, senior design editor at STYLE AT HOME magazine. A writer and blogger, Margot and her husband, Kevin, - (owner of the fabulous T.O. antique store, Chair Table Lamp), adore her and sing her praises whenever they get the chance. Margot got a damn good interview with Ray a few months back, which received a great deal of attention. Here's what Margot had to say.

"I have interviewed Ray a few times for the magazine. She speaks in knock-your-socks-off sound bites that remind me of Diana Vreeland. She loves to shock. So, what's my new mantra? Well, it came up when Ray was telling us a story about being asked to speak to young interior designers with ARIDO. She talked about how designers today can be very capable and do rooms that are tasteful and such but...

'Where's the fucking magic?'

So this year, thanks to Ray, that's going to be my gut-check on all matters of style. - Where's the fucking magic? And my resolution? Spend more time with Ray Staples!"

Agree with you there Margot! Yep! That's Auntie Ray! Let 'er rip!

Carrie has always told me SHE'D like to interview Auntie Ray on tape and record some of her unique ideas, thoughts and philosophies on life. Today was the day! After 18 years as a TV interviewer, we turned the tables. I sat back on the "OTHER side" and watched, while Carrie did the one-on-one questioning. All I did was laugh - and cry. (what else is new?)

When Carrie told Auntie Ray she wanted to grill her, she responded, "I figure once in a while, you've gotta sit down and tell it like it is!"
(and so she did).

Ray talks to Carrie, on tape, in the livingroom of her condo at Christie Gardens

Auntie Ray yakked about her early training as an artist in Philadelphia, (at age 17), her long marriage to Ev Staples, their son, Kevan, daughter-in-law, Marilyn, granddaughter, Sacha (about to give birth!), how to survive in a tough career, advice for her about-to-be-born great-grandchild and on and on.

As for the heavy duty emotion always evident in our family, Carrie asked Auntie Ray, "What's with the crying?" She has a unique take on tears. It's not necessarily always about sadness. No? So what IS it?

Ray's response, "Isn't it awful? Everybody in the family does it! I fall into FLOODS about the darndest things, and I think, 'What is the matter with me? This is not fair'! But it IS! What it is, - is the appreciation for creativity. It makes us so sensitive to excellence, - and I believe in excellence with my whole heart and soul".

She also spoke about her new life at Christie Gardens, as well as the sadness of living there on her own for the past six months, without Ev, whom she misses every minute. (as we all do)

It's been a challenge for Ray, getting used to life in a seniors residence after decades in her own private home, but the units are spacious and the decor she and Ev chose, - what else, but fantastic! Check it out. (Guaranteed, like NO seniors condo you've ever seen!)

It's still a bit strange to visit Auntie Ray and sit in "Uncle Ev's chair." (which I did). But right next to me, was a photo of Ev around the time Ray first met him in the late '40s. As she would say, "What's not to love? He was GORGEOUS!"

Thanks for the visit Auntie Ray! You'll be a great-grandmother any minute! - (no tears now!)

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At July 17, 2012 at 4:14 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Elaine,

Just heard your Great Grandmother passed away, so sorry for your family's loss.

As a mentor to many young designers and inspiration to many of us ARIDO members who loved her saucy good taste to tell it like it was, Ray will always be fondly remembered.

For myself; when I first came to Toronto in the early 1980's it was a breath of fresh air to hear her on City TV cut to the chase
and dispatch a trend for common sense.

Tomorrow; I shall wear a hat in her honor.

Elaine Bergen
Interior Designer

At July 18, 2012 at 8:20 a.m. , Anonymous Fiona Clark said...

Dear Elaine,

So very sorry to hear about Ray's passing - I worked with her for years on Cityline and spent many hours shooting her clients' homes with her. I must tell you that, on Monday I was in my livingroom and she suddenly popped into my head and I wondered how she was doing and which seniors' residence she and Ev had moved to - from reading your blog I see he passed away at the end of 2010 (?) I'm so sorry, I didn't know. Condolences to you and your family from myself and the show - she truly was one of a kind!

Fiona Clark
Home Day Producer,
City TV

At July 27, 2012 at 10:19 a.m. , Blogger mykidzmom said...

I always loved watching Ray on Cityline. She just popped into my head today and I googled to see if I could find some her designs to pin on pinterest. I am so sad to see that she passed away.
There was always something to love in her rooms. I loved her spirit and creativity! :)

At July 28, 2012 at 10:59 p.m. , Blogger Lisa said...

What a lovely post. I found it after googling Ray, having read about her passing on Margot Austin's blog. To me she is such an icon, I would tune in to City Line just for her. I love her words on tears - I may have to use them myself, as I also tend to end up in tears! Thanks for the post, and my condolences to your family.


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