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.