Sunday, June 28, 2009

This Is Your Life...

by Suzanne

It's amazing the things we can learn from other people's lives. That's probably one of the reasons I love to read biographies. Not the flashy, tell all, ghost-writer books many celebs get paid outrageous amounts for doing little work. No, I prefer the old kind of biographies that look at the total life of a person, the good, the bad, the ugly...(oh wait, that was a movie). But you know what I mean, the kind of book that lets me see how this person lived and how they triumphed or failed in adversity, maybe how they fit into history.

As a young reader I was fascinated by the written word, as most of us readers are. But not only did reading take me to another world, it often let me be another person. So I'm going to share with you some of my favorite people and what I learned from reading their biographies...

Wyatt Earp. The story of Wyatt and his brothers started my love of westerns. To this day I can see the battle of the OK Coral, with Frank and Virgil getting shot, and Doc Holliday standing toe-to-toe with his only friend, Wyatt as the dastardly Ike Clanton turns tail and runs. Western justice!


Clara Barton. Clara was the first real life nurse I read about. (Florence Nightingale came later.) She was dear to my heart because she organized women to go into the battlefields of the Civil War to tend the wounded. Later, she also started the American Red Cross. Yep, she had a bit of an impact on my future career. Compassion.


Amelia Earhardt. Boy did she inspire me. Now, I've not taken up flying, but she captured the romantic hearts of the nation by flying all over the world, in a time when women rarely left the house to work. The mystery and tragedy of her last flight still puzzles the world to this day. Pioneering.



Helen Keller & Annie Sullivan. I first read Helen's story in about the sixth grade. Since I have a cousin, (Hazel), who is my age and also deaf, I'd learned a little sign language by this time. Knowing Helen had blindness to overcome, too, amazed me. Not long after that, I picked up Annie's story. She not only was an orphan, but had diminished eyesight, too. And yet, she was able to reach into Helen's silent, dark world and bring her out of it, into a world where she traveled and visited with some of the greatest minds of her time. Inspiring!


Harriett Tubman. I have a bit of a fascination with the American Civil War, and the periods just before and after. Harriett was one of those people who fascinated me. The idea that she managed to escape slavery into the North, then turned around not once, but many times to lead others out...what courage!




Robert E. Lee. Of all the generals in the war, Robert E. Lee demonstrated loyalty. While a graduate of West Point, when it came time to choose sides, he couldn't "lift a musket against my home state of Virginia."




Abraham Lincoln. A witty man who lead our nation probably though its most trying time. He believed the strength of the country lay in the union of the states. He had dissenters among his cabinet members, a wife who quite possibly suffered from bipolar tendencies, a frail son and it was rumored that he had premonitions of his own death, yet he weathered it all. Strength of character.


Eleanor Roosevelt. She wanted to live a simple life, not in the lime light like her cousins, including the dynamic, Franklin. Despite his numerous affairs, she nursed him through polio and his recuperation, stood by his side as he became the governor of New York, then the president. Her intelligence and career as a social worker before she married Franklin gave her the ability to see the state of the people around her, (the poor, women, homeless). Despite their marital situation, she became one of her husband's biggest advisers. After World War II ended, Eleanor served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly and was the first chairperson of the UN Human Rights Commission. Perseverance.

Abigail and John Adams...okay this was reading their letters to each other, but wow! Talk about love and respect.



So I've been thinking. If I were to write an autobiography, what interesting things would I like the world to know about me?

1. A good mother. Mind you I didn't say the best. I know many of the mistakes I made, but I think my kids know they were loved. They've grown up to be productive members of society, and since they're busy giving me grand babies, they must've decided they had a good role model.

2. A good nurse. This could be interpreted in many different ways. I'd like to think I showed compassion when needed, strength when appropriate and taught many people over the years. I'd like to be remembered for catching babies when the doctor couldn't make it, especially the one in the front seat of the Grand Marquis!

3. A good writer. I'm still working on this one. To me one of the parameters for measuring this will be to have a published book on my shelves. But with practice comes skills...so I keep working on it!

4. A good friend. Well you guys will have to answer that one!

So, dear readers and Banditas....what would you like people to remember you for? What cool thing will be in your biography? Whose biography do you want to read? Which did you read that changed your life?

For one reader, I have a signed copy of Jo Davis' new firefighter book, UNDER FIRE.

53 comments:

limecello said...

MINE

limecello said...

Oh um, wow. So now everything/anything I have to say sounds really inane. I was just happy to get the GR on my birthday :D (Yes *today* is my birthday!)

The GR is going to do exciting things with me, like study for 8 hours. :X

Great post, Suzanne - lots of terrific people that I would love to know more about. I used to really enjoy reading biographies. I don't know what I'd like to be known for yet. I like to think I've got time, and that it hasn't happened yet :)

limecello said...

... ok and I don't feel like deleting the first post like I normally do, so I'm spamming all y'all with another message because the third time's a charm, right?

:P Actually, I love reading biographies on important, but obscure people. Especially in American History. Kid biographies are good too, because they're informational but not too dense. (I mean biographies written for "kids" - not ones on kids.)

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Limecello.

Hi Suzanne,
Can't say I've read many biographies lately. I, too would want to be remembered as a good friend. It's not the amount of friends you have, it's the quality of the friendship and I would like to think that I've been a good and loyal friend. It would also be nice if people remembered that I was fun to be around and for my sense of humor.

kim h said...

someone nice and friendly an d was good to others

Mary Marvella said...

I'm much of a biography reader these days. I'd like to be remembered for my books and my humor. I'm already known for my excessive jewelry!

Helen said...

Congrats limecello and have a wonderful birthday filled with fun and love

What a really lovely post Suz. I haven't read any biographies but I am always interested in peoples lives.

I think I would like to be remembered as a caring person who is a good listener and yes I love to have fun. I too think that I have been a good Mum and am loving being a Nana.


Suz I am sure it won't be long before we see one of your books in print I can't wait to read it

Have Fun
Helen

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Limecello, congrats on the GR and a very Happy Birthday to you. Sorry you have to study on such a special day!

Suzanne Welsh said...

One of the fun things about biographies of obscure people for writers, is you get a spark of something to start your story, or parralel your story to. Very cool facts, too!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Jane, you're so right about the kind of friend you are is more important than the number of friends you have.

So, any great deeds or special talents you've done to add to your biography?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hello Kim H!

I can't think of a better way to be remembered. :)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Mary! Glad to see you pop up today. I think being remembered for humor and books would be cool. But the excessive jewlrey would make good stuff for a biography. You could title each chapter with a special baubble or jewel and the story on how you got it!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Morning, Helen!

I can tell by how much you smile holding those two babies that you will definitely be remembered as a great Mum and Nana!

OH, thank you for the positive thoughts about my writing. I'm crossing my fingers my latest manuscript will find a home. I mailed it to an editor in NY this past week!! :)

Margay said...

When I was just a teenager, I read The Diary of Anne Frank about five times in a row. There was just something about that book that drew me in - maybe it was the fact that she was just the same age as me when she died. Maybe I was hoping for a better outcome for her. That was the book that impacted me.

Margay

Emmanuelle said...

I would definitly love to be remembered as a good mom and a good friend. I try so hard to be both, would be very satisfying to know I've succeded...

Deb Marlowe said...

Hey Suz! Lovely post!

Happy Birthday and congrats, Lime!

Oh, I'm a biography gal too! LOVE to read them, you get such a picture of a person and all the myriad influences in their lives. I read mostly historical biographies, some of my faves are about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, Giovanni Belzoni--my historical figure man crush, Hannah More, Cruikshank, oh I could go on and on!

As for being remembered--I'd like to be recalled as a an amazing mom and wife, a great friend, someone her family could count on. Oh, and a beloved writer too, since we're dreaming!

Kirsten said...

Hi Suz! Great post, though I must confess I don't think I've ever read a biography! :-) As for my biography -- I think I'd like to be remembered as someone who was compassionate and loving, and worked hard to make other people feel respected. If I could achieve THAT, it would be a miracle!

Cybercliper said...

Hi Suzanne - Great Post! Happy B-day Limecello!! I love bio's and most of these people are on my list of "most admired". I would add Elizabeth Cady Stanton (activist) and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (pioneer in computer science). Also love Winston Churchill!

I would like to be remembered as a person of strength, courage, compassion, and humor.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I would want to be remembered as an all around good person. Someone that was there when they were needed and able to give space when that was needed as well.

I like biographies, not that I have read any lately but sometimes it is so sad the way they end so I back off reading them for a while.

Louisa Cornell said...

YAY LIME!! Happy GR Birthday! Put a hat on him and make him help you blow out the candles!

Neat post, Suzanne! You definitely qualify as a classy lady and a great friend!

I love biographies and don't get to read as many as I would like. John and Abigail Addams are two of my favorites, especially their letters. They truly LIKED and LOVED each other. They were partners and friends. Amazing love story.

For another "Mother" of nursing read Mary Seacole's biography. An amazing woman of color who fought against all odds to nurse British soldiers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

For myself I would like to be remembered as a loyal friend, a dedicated musician, a champion for animals and a VERY popular historical romance writer!

Joan said...

Happy Birthday Lime!

Suz, what a great post.

Hmmm..biographies. Well, I remember the Clara Barton one (in the "kid" version) as well as Annie Oakley. Ya just have to admire a woman who can shot a pea off the top of a fence post AND fall in love too.

I've always admired Eleanor Roosevelt. I have enjoyed biographies and autobiographies of Lucille Ball and Shelley Winters...that one really gave a great insight into Hollywood back in the day.

I'd love to read Merv Griffin's and Mike Douglas...memories from my childhood.

As to remembering Joanie T?

1. Not only a good nurse, but a kick a**nurse.
2. Friend. Loyal, reliable, a friend who will always have your back.
3. A great storyteller. Piggy backing on that...a multipubbed historical romance fiction author who opened up the time periods.

4 And last but not least, a Bandita :-)

jo robertson said...

Super topic, Suz!

Happy birthday, Limecello, have fun celebrating with the rooster. Awww, at least have a few drinks with that studying!

I've always been interested in the life of Julius Caesar. He was such an interesting character, admirable in many ways, ruthless in others, and definitely among the best, if not THE best, military leaders of all times.

My biography? I'd just want people to remember me with love and affection, to know that I touched their lives in some significant way, especially my family.

Virginia said...

Happy Birthday Limecello and congrats on the GR!

I don't read many biographies, but I do enjoy reading authors Bio's. I would like to be remembered as a very good friend, someone who is easy to talk to. A person that would give you the shirt off of their back if you needed it.

MJFredrick said...

Happy birthday, Limecello!

I LOVE biographies. As a kid, I remember reading about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor. I thought she was amazing. Then, in addition to reading the Little House books, I read bios on Laura Ingalls.

Sometimes a movie will spark me into reading a biography, like a movie I saw about 20 years ago about Catherine the Great.

The most recent biography that inspired me was Jane Long. I teach 4th grade and we do TX history. I've taught 4 years now from the same book, but this time Jane kind of jumped out at me. She came to TX with her husband, who left her at a fort near Galveston. The winter got ugly and the other soldiers abandoned her, with her child and her slave. She had to defend the fort on her own from pirates, bandits and the native tribe. I think she's awesome.

Nancy said...

Limecello, happy birthday! I hope the rooster will be an upbeat part of your celebration. As for studying, it will do him good to remember that quiet time is also beneficial.

Nancy said...

Great list, Suz! But of course I"d think so, seeing as how Clara Barton, Amelia Earhart and Helen Keller were childhood idols of mine,too.

I hope I'll be remembered as a good friend and a good parent. As someone who freely shares what she gleans from all those books on the shelves. As someone whose stories offered readers an enjoyable escape and maybe made them think from time to time.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Margay!

I forgot Anne Frank! I, too, reread that story as a teen. And like you, I think it was because she was such a real teen and going through something so life changing and horrific!

Good choice!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hello, Emmanuelle!

Isn't it interesting how many of us want to be remembered in a good way by our friends and families? Like I said in my post, I think the fact that my kids like to spend time with me, give me grandbabies and are productive members of society shows I didn't screw it up too badly!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Deb Marlowe!

some of my faves are about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, Giovanni Belzoni--my historical figure man crush, Hannah More, Cruikshank, oh I could go on and on!..

I've not read any of these. I'll have to add them to my list. I love to find people in history I knew nothing about.

Years ago I read a book called All The President's Women. It was a collection of short snippets about the women who influenced the various presidents, their wives, their mothers, their daughters, their sisters, their mistresses...

Really interesting.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Kirsten!

You've never read a biography? I didn't realize you'd led such a deprived life! (just kidding) For you my dear I'd recommend Eleanor's life. I think you both had this in common...and worked hard to make other people feel respected... And she was so very witty, I think you'd enjoy it very much.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Cybercliper!

I would add Elizabeth Cady Stanton (activist) and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (pioneer in computer science)..

I've read some of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's life and find her very interesting. But the Rear Admiral, I haven't so will have to add that to my list.

Suzanne Welsh said...

You know...

Sometimes we read biographies without knowing they're actual biographies. Cheaper By The Dozen, is a fascinating story by three children of the father in the story. And it is a true story/biography.

And I've read some of the most interesting stories. Al Capone was very charasmatic. If he hadn't been brought down by the IRS and syphyllis, (er...not from each other...er working together...you know what I mean...) I wonder what his life would've been like and how long he would've influenced the Chicago underworld or Chicago itself?

Also, another biography I thought was very interesting in a surreal, OMG sort of way was Frank Sinatra's, The Rag Picker's Son. Amazing how famous he became!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Louisa!
Thank you for the kind words...and I think you will definitely be remembered for all those things, especially an advocate for animals!

For another "Mother" of nursing read Mary Seacole's biography. An amazing woman of color who fought against all odds to nurse British soldiers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century....

I haven't heard of her before. I'll have to add her to my list! Thanks!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Joanie!

Why am I not suprised you read the Clara Barton bio too? hehehe

From back in the day, I loved Lauren Bacall's bio. Cried when she talked about losing Bogie. She really did love that man!

I'd like you to be remembered for all those things too!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey, Jo!

I think your family will definitely remember you like that. I have a feeling your kids and grandkids will have GREAT stories to tell about you!

I've always been interested in the life of Julius Caesar. He was such an interesting character, admirable in many ways, ruthless in others, and definitely among the best, if not THE best, military leaders of all times....

I'd like to read about Alexander The Great. (the movie so sucked). He conquered and joined most of the known world, (er excluding China) at the time.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hy Virginia!
Which author's bio have you enjoyed reading? Anyone famous?

I would like to be remembered as a very good friend, someone who is easy to talk to. A person that would give you the shirt off of their back if you needed it...

That's the best kind of friend, and I'm sure your friends will remember you like that!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Diana!

I would want to be remembered as an all around good person. Someone that was there when they were needed and able to give space when that was needed as well...

What a great way to be remembered and to treat youf friends and family.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey MJ!

The most recent biography that inspired me was Jane Long. I teach 4th grade and we do TX history. I've taught 4 years now from the same book, but this time Jane kind of jumped out at me. She came to TX with her husband, who left her at a fort near Galveston. The winter got ugly and the other soldiers abandoned her, with her child and her slave. She had to defend the fort on her own from pirates, bandits and the native tribe. I think she's awesome. ..

WOW! I've lived in Texas 11 years and haven't ever heard of her. (Which given how independent Texas are and how passionate they are about their history, surprises me!) I'll be looking for this biography ASAP!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Nancy!

Those were such inspiring women, weren't they? As a kid I was so happy to find biographies of women. There were so many more about men on the shelves. I forgot to include Elizabeth I. WHAT a fascinating and intelligent woman!!

And my dear, you will be remembered as innovative too, once your Sci-Fi books hit the shelves!!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Congrats Limecello - about time that rooster came back to Ohio.

Well Suz...as I was speaking to a chapter of Sisters in Crime yesterday, I imagine I'll be remembered as the writer that can talk your ear off (grin). Give me an audience and I'm good to go.

Afterwards, my dh & I went to a dinner party. I was responsible for dessert. I made a Mississippi Mud Pie with lots of Kaluha & Godiva liquour (and just a touch of Jack Daniels) in the filling. It was good, cold and intoxicating. The attendees last night remembered me for that (grin).

joder said...

I've read a few biographies and found them to be very entertaining. I especially enjoy the ones about Civil War times.

And I would want people to remember me as a good friend who was the queen of organization.

Joan said...

Cheaper By The Dozen,

I LOVED that old movie with Myrna Loy and the follow up "Belles on Their Toes"

That one spoke to life after the father died and the strength of the mother in not only raising her children but fighting for recognition and respect in the field of time management her husband had pioneered. She worked right along with him but when he died unexpectedly and she (who had worked right along side him) went to present to a high brow society, they refused to accept her.

She got to go...nobody messes with Myrna Loy!

The Galbraith Family, that was it.

And another nursing inspiration? Sister Kenny in Australia. Now, I never read the book but saw the movie with Rosaling Russell about this nurse in the Outback with limited access to physicians who...during the outbreak of polio in the 50's...had to use her brain and knowledge to devise treatment. Her use of warm wraps on the limbs/joints during the acute phase instead of immobliazation in casts etc. maintained the function of countless children instead of leaving them crippled as the traditional treatment did.

She had an advocate in this Scottish doctor but even with that, the medical establishment vilified her and REFUSED to review or consider the benefits of her treatment.

She was, after all, only a nurse.

Jo Davis said...

Suz,
Great post! I used to devour biographies about historical figures. My favorite quote is by Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." That's one I live by. I especially enjoy a good autobiography.

One that sticks in my mind is "It's Always Something" by Gilda Radner. She was warm, funny, courageous, and she loved Gene Wilder with a passion. I've read more recent ones, but that one was special.

Jo

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Donna!

I made a Mississippi Mud Pie with lots of Kaluha & Godiva liquour (and just a touch of Jack Daniels) in the filling. It was good, cold and intoxicating. The attendees last night remembered me for that (grin)...

I can't think of a better way to be remembered!! LOL

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Joder!

Another Civil War bio fan!! Yahoo!! I'm not so sure why I'm so fasincated with the times or the people then, but I am! Maybe it was the strive the country went through as a whole?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Joanie,

And another nursing inspiration? Sister Kenny in Australia. Now, I never read the book but saw the movie with Rosaling Russell..

I remember this story! Sigh. Think how many people would've been helped had the male dominated world of medicine listened to nurses. (Something we still have to fight for!!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jo Davis!!

Thanks for coming by, since I know you're on deadline for the 4th firefighter book!

I remember that quote from Eleanor. You've quoted it to me more than once! I love it, too.

And Gilda Radner? Yes! A life taken much too quickly from her family, friends and fans!!!

Joan said...

I can't think of a better way to be remembered!!

Wondering if anyone COULD remember after that lucious treat, LOL

Keira Soleore said...

Banditas, I'm back. Sue me, scold me, miss me, but don't oh don't bar me from The Lair.

I could go on and on why I haven't been here off-late, but more on that in person when we meet in LESS THAN A MONTH. Hooray! Missed y'all bunches.

Suz, I'm hoping for your nursing memoirs...the baby on the off-ramp, the baby in the front seat, and all the other babies that caught everyone by surprise (I'd LOVE to have that experience instead of the labor-with-no-end).

Lime, happy birthday again. Um, whydo you have cherries/strawberries swinging around your icon?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Ah Kiera...we've missed you! Glad you're back and will look forward to seeing you next month!

some day I might try to write the nursing memoirs, but right now they make great bar story fodder!!

Treethyme said...

Happy Birthday, Limecello! Congrats on the GR!

Treethyme said...

Well, I posted before but either it didn't go through or I'm going blind. Now I can't remember what I wrote, either. Oh well.

kim h said...

any winnner?