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.


Jennie Lucas said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mom, Anne! Hope she has a wonderful birthday with lots of cake. :)


Anne McAllister said...

Thank you, Jennie. She is celebrating with lots of goodies today.

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, what a lovely post! And please wish your mother a very happy birthday from me. I lost my mother a bit over two years ago and there's not a day goes by when I don't miss her. It was wonderful to read such a great tribute to the women who influence our lives. Thank you!

Estella said...

Wish your mom a happy birthday for me. Tell her congratulations to a survivor from a survivor.

Lee said...

Anne, please wish your Mom a Happy Birthday from me as well. I lost my mother to cancer (breast & colon) when I was 25. I still miss her so much. No one nags you or gives a tight hug and helps you feel better about things like a Mother does.
Thanks for the wonderful post!

Anne McAllister said...

Anna, I will certainly pass on your best wishes. I know she will appreciate them.

Estella, good for you. I will tell my mother what you said. Thanks.

Lee, 25 is very young to lose your mom. I'm so sorry you don't still have her in your life on a daily basis, but I'm glad you have wonderful memories. I'll tell her happy birthday from you, too. Thank you!

Anne said...

Anne, what a wonderful post. I hope your mom reads it, as well as the other women in your life.
It goes both ways, too, you know -- you give a lot to us all. Thank you.

Margaret McDonagh said...

A wonderful post, Anne, thank you. And all best wishes to your mother for a very happy birthday.

Mags xx

PS I love Eeyore!!

Anne McAllister said...

Anne, thanks for your kind words.

And Margaret, I love Eeyore, too. But he does make you want to tear your hair sometimes in real life, bless his heart. Will pass on your birthday wishes. Thank you.

Kate Walker said...

I'm alittle late - catching up from a weekend away but I can;t letr any more time go by without sending Happy Birthday wishes to your Mother. I still remember meeting her when we visted. Please tell her that I hope she had a very special day and that this coming year is so good that it gets rid of any thought of being Eeyore even for a moment (though like Margaret I love Eeeyore too)


Michele L. said...

Hi Anne,

You are such a sweetheart! Your mom sure has a wonderful daughter! Happy birthday to your mom!

Michele L.