Monday, October 20, 2008
The Heroines in Our Lives : : Anne McAllister
As romance authors we spend a lot of time writing about heroes. We appreciate a man of integrity, of honor, of competence, and determination. Drop dead gorgeous looks and a smile to die for aren't much of a turn-off, either.
I can happily spend hours drool-- appreciating -- men like Hugh-in-a-towel and others like him.
And while I don't spend nearly the time appreciating the finer qualities of the heroines I write about, what makes them tick is equally important to my heroes, to my books -- and to my life.
It's the women who raised me -- my mother, my grandmother, my aunts and great-aunts -- who first taught me what being a woman is all about. They taught me compassion and generosity and unstinting love.
They were very different, one from another. And admittedly some of them I found more enjoyable to be around than others. They had idiosyncrasies and quirks that made them individuals. They showed me how many different ways women can live out their lives and become the best people they can be.
Friends I made growing up did the same. Some were funny, some were serious, some were definitely holy, some were just a little bit bad. But they all gave me gifts when they shared their lives with me. So did my sister who, if she minds when I call her General Patton, never takes it seriously, thank God.
And then came my daughter who has taught me even more about grace under pressure, steadfast determination, how to have a sense of humor always and how to be a woman in a man's world.
And my daughters-in-law who have brought even more joy as they deepened my understanding of the many many ways women can be heroines in their own stories and the stories of the men who love them.
Granddaughters, too, are special, joyful and endlessly entertaining. Watching them become heroines in their own lives is a reward I cherish every day.
Writer friends -- most of them women -- who have enriched my life over the past twenty-odd years of my career have taught me so much about life and sharing and giving and always being there, no matter what. I can't imagine what life would be like without them.
I'm thinking about this right now because I'm making a birthday dinner for my mother.
She's 89 today. She is a woman of resiliency, determination, care and compassion. And if sometimes she reminds me of Eeyore, she's entitled.
As my grandmother would have said, "That's just the way she is, dear." And while we may not be much alike, to her occasional dismay, she has brought great joy into my life. And I feel fortunate to celebrate hers today.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My mother is a 16 year survivor of the disease. Her life is a testimony to the success of early detection, to good medical care, and above all, to a woman who, faced with it, didn't respond like Eeyore at all.
She didn't sigh and bemoan her fate. She was a heroine. She took charge. She battled back and, with the help of her doctors and her attitude and determination, she came out on top.
Blessings on you, Mom -- and happy birthday.