Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strong Inspirations

Inspiration strikes in odd places. Today mine came from by Sierra Godfrey’s blog post on Woman’s History Month. She asked that we think about women in our lives and be thankful for them.

I’m going to be thankful for the strong women, who aren’t necessarily in my life, but they’ve influenced it beyond a doubt. I’m not talking fictional people, or authors.  Charley R. already posted what amounts to my Ode to Anne McCaffrey *grin* these are the women whose genes I have running in my system.

These are the women of my previous generations that have inspired my character to be the women they are. And they all funneled through my mother and into me. I’m sure my dad’s side of the family had its share, seeing as my Abuela was a Missionary down in South America. I just happen to know my mom’s family a bit better.

My Mom:
  • It might have taken her a bit to get through the divorce and find a proper mate, but she did it. More than that she took up the back breaking work of cleaning houses to put food on the table and clothing on my back.
  • She never gave up her dream of graduating college either. She beat me to it too. She walked down the aisle to get her Bachelors the week before I did.
  • She’s my real life Cinderella, with a closet of ball gown to prove that finding your Frog Prince isn’t always that easy. (What? My step-father happens to be a French Swamp Yankee, and they both love my analogy).

My Grandmother (mother’s side):
  • Oh Nellie, where to begin with her? Anyone who has read my collaborative story, Faerie Bound, on Protagonize, will know Haddie. Haddie pretty much is my grandmother. She was vocal in town hall in her day, she raised six boys with my mom’s help and raised hell with anyone who might cross her.
  • Case in point – She became a Court Advocate for abused women, taking up a position in the court that served the town she raised her boys in. Sometimes the abusers would try to approach her desk (located in a hallway mind you) to harass ‘their woman’. Well the moment my grandmother caught their eye they’d be all ‘yes ma’am’ no ma’am’ ‘I’ll just be going now Mrs. B.’
  • In fact I could give you all sorts of anecdotes about her. Some good some bad. Maybe on another day.

My great-grandmother, (mother’s, mother’s side):
  • I actually got to know her as the little old lady who made yummy donuts and collected bells.
  • She sang in the choir and held faith fast, despite an abusive husband.
  • She stayed independent in her own home, up until the last few years.
  • As I love telling people, she camped out with the girl scouts until she was 76 at which point she declared sleeping on the ground wasn’t good for her back.

My great-grandmother (mother’s father’s side):
  • I’ve only heard stories about her, but she sounds pretty amazing.
  • For one she was a trolley car conductor in Maine. We’re talking turn of the last century people (1920s/30s)! That’s a pretty amazing job for a woman to have back then.
  • When she separated from her husband, whom she never divorced, she bought the house across the street from his and cleaned houses to support herself and her boys and a couple nieces and nephews.

How can I not write strong female protagonists when these women are in my blood? What about you, is there someone, or a group of someones who have influenced you?

:} Cathryn Leigh


  1. Wow, your family sound incredible! What a tough bunch of girls, good on them I say! Hehe, I totally see where Haddie B came from - and a good thing too, it'd be a shame to have known such an incredible person and not given her some space in a book, eh?

    I don't know quite how adventurous mine were - my great-aunt and grandmother were evacuated to a castle during the Second World War, and I'm pretty sure there's a war ambulance driver in there somewhere (but don't hold me to that, I need to check). My grandmother and grandad both travelled around the world when he was working in his various businesses, and my mum went with them. She's been travelling ever since, sometimes in her Gap Year and then even more after she met my Dad in Australia!

    Hmm, this really makes me think I ought to get to know the people in my family better - I don't actually know that much about them at all, how awful is that!? I shall have to interrogate my granny about her upbringing the next time I see her, hee hee!

    A couple of typos up there to:
    First para: "o I" - cut the "o"
    Second point in your "grandmother" section: "p" - should be "up"
    Same point: "antidodes" - "anecdotes"

    1. That was pretty much my thought. But my mom and I have a project idea that will,hopefully, share these women with the world. I didn't even mention Nana sam, whose wedding band I wear, or Nellie, the woman who funded the homestead.

      I highly recommend doing interviews with them when you can. Both the men and women. You never know what you might dredge up. I found a few I did with my grandmother on WW II in high school. it was really cool.

      And the typos now fixed... No idea how they got through... well except for antidote, as that came about probably do to a mispronunceation of thw word on my part. I shall now have to remember anecdote properly. :}

  2. I think you mean you can give us anecdotes, not antidotes - she doesn't sound like poison!

    They sound wonderful. I'd like to have met them :)

    1. Yeah.. I fixed that to anecdote. thank you for spotting it (and pointing out the what I had written, makes it easier to avoid in the future). :}

      I wish I'd gotten more stories out of my Grand mother and great-grand mother in the time I knew them. Most of the time when we went to my grate-mother's house I was out back checking out the horse and pigs and rabbits. Or talking with her bird Alphe - he was a noisy fellow. :}

  3. This is great Cathryn! I'm so glad you did this post and thanks for the shout out. I love the lists of what you remember.

    1. Your welcome. And really, I must thank you for the inspiration.

      I did have to call my mother, well I didn't but I decided to, which was good, because I had a few facts mixed up about the trolly conductor. Apparently there's also a great story about what she did to the man who tried to serve her divorce papers... :}