Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Women of Power

Posted by Christine

Okay, I don’t really mean Cat Woman. Though I do love that black patent leather outfit. That dominatrix thing. Gets me every time.

Yes. It’s true. You do not want to be here inside my mind. Mwahaha.

And while I’ve got my whip out, don’t forget to check out Kate’s entry at American Title III. And vote on the best first line. *ker-snap* Oh, yeah. That is the sound of my whip cracking…

Where was I? There is always altogether too much digression in my posts…

Ahem. Women of Power…

Actually, I was thinking about my grandmother. She was born in the 1890’s and she didn’t look a thing like Halle Berry. She never in her life wore black patent leather. Well, maybe patent leather shoes at some point. Though not that I remember.

She was downright amazing. No other word for her. Born a Philadelphia Quaker, she finished normal school and, at age sixteen, headed to the Alaska gold fields to take a job as a teacher. She met my grandfather there, in the goldfields. He was over a decade her senior, a gold miner, as taciturn as she was talkative. They married and headed for the mountains of Northern California where he’d been born and raised.

She brought up three kids during the depression, including my mother, the youngest, born at home, midwived by my grandmother’s mother-in-law. My grandmother taught school well into her seventies. Her small house was always full of books. Walls full of them. She loved double-crostics and Scrabble.

Boy, could she slaughter the unwary at Scrabble. I swear she cheated. But every time I’d challenge her on some obscure word, there it would be in her Webster’s International Dictionary, a tome so enormous, she had to keep it on a special stand.

She played the mandolin. Badly. She always kept a garden and she fed all of us from it. An organic garden, which required a compost heap. A big one, up in the corner of the yard…

And her power? It was in her belief. She believed in God. And she believed in the power of goodness. In the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

In me. My Granny believed in me. She always told me I would be a writer. Eventually. I wanted to be an actress for years and pursued that dream passionately. My Granny would say, “Well, when you get this theater bug out of your system, you can settle down and be the writer you were meant to be.”

She died sixteen years ago. But her spirit is so strong, I still feel her with me. Supporting me. Believing in me.

That’s a woman of power.

All that to say…

I don’t know, really. Just that it makes me feel powerful to remember her, makes me newly aware of how much I love my job, reminds me what romance is all about: Women of power who know what they want and then go out and get it against all odds.

I'll raise my cosmo to that!


At 8:21 AM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

Your memories of your Granny brought tears to my eyes. She sounds wonderful!

And you made me remember my own strong and wonderful grandmother, Doreen Kavanagh Campbell, California women's golf champion through the 1920s & '30s and whew, what a powerhouse!

Thanks, Chris!

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Susan Mallery said...

Chris--what a great story. We are all so lucky when we are touched by powerful women. I remember a friend's stepmother--Wilma. She had three kids, my friend was one of four. Neither Wilma nor her husband had any money, but they got married, joined their families and lived in a big old drafty house I loved. It was loud there, and you could hear the pennies screamed as they were pinched and pinched again. But it was fun and homey and for an only child like me, it was magical.

Wilma seemed old at the time, but she was probably in her mid-to-late thirties when they decided to have a child together. She was so practical about childbirth and children. I remember her taking me aside once and telling me, "You're not like the other girls. It's okay to be smart and make something of yourself."

Her advice scared me. I wanted to be exactly like the other girls. But I was into books and words and stories and my mind didn't work like everyone else's.

Women of power shine a light on our path and help up through our journey. I hope one day, I can be one of them.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

A great story, Chris! My grandmother got through high school, an amazing feat for the times and even went to teacher's college for awhile.

But she married, had babies and moved from oil field to oil field with my grandfather, a wildcatter. She built homes for her family everywhere they went--even if it was a tent on wooden skids. If she didn't like the view, she simply hooked the mule up to the skid and moved her house.

She always believed in me. Believed in the power of doing what you were meant to do. Believed in loving her family. And maybe love is the strongest power of all.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Gee, guys. These are beautiful stories. Now you're makin' *me* cry. And what fascinating women.

Kate. A golf champion in the 20s and 30s. We know theres a great story in that.

Susan, I want to meet Wilma. Strange, but I feel as if I already know her...

Oh, Maureen. Your grandma was a woman who know how to live. Love the part about just moving the house if she didn't like the view...

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

The mother of my best friend growing up was a powerful woman (my mom and grandmothers too, but the following story is tres cool). She grew up in an orphanage in Argentina after her parents died in a fire. Was raised by nuns who taught her to sew from an early age. The girls learned by making clothes from newspaper!

She could sew anything. Her daughters would show her a picture in a magazine and she'd make it, just cutting away at the fabric without a pattern! As a young woman she moved to the U.S., married an Italian immigrant and had four children.

As the kids grew older she got bored with housewifery and opened her own tailoring/alterations shop on Geary Street in San Francisco. She altered all Danielle Steel's clothes for many years!

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Kim said...

My mother in law is an amazing and strong woman. Came from complete total poverty--lived in a tar paper shack in the hills of WV (a one room shack until she was 12, when her mother told her dad that a girl should have her own room...he added one--it was then a 2 room tar paper shack) until she went away to college. Married a young airman, who became an officer (retired as Col.), was the consumate officers wife--wined and dined the dignitaries and the generals. :)

She has 2 bachelors degrees and a masters degree in social work. (Which she got when she was in her 50's).

She raised 2 kids--my wonderful hubby and his (nutty) sister...ok, so she is batting .500 on the kid thing. (lol)

An amazing strong woman. I hope she writes a book about her life someday!

My own momma is one of my best friends. We almost lost her about a month ago to a botched elective surgery. VERY SCARY! I don't want to think about the time when that will happen for real. I would like to think that i will be ready, but know that I will absolutely not.

Best to all,


At 12:45 PM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...


Did I say that before?

Kim's incredible Renaissance mom-in-law. And a woman who could make clothes without patterns...hello. I can't make them *with* patterns. Tailor to the Rich and Romantic, oh, yeah!

I wonder if this a commonality, these women of power and their rich stories, to all readers and writers of romance?

Maybe to believe in love and hope and that you can do anything, you need someone to show you the way.


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