Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Aunt Willie, and Catherine Winter, PI, Could Easily Be "Superman!"

My Aunt Loretta, age 89

Today I was thinking abut women, women who I have either personally known or who I have admired. Women who have been intelligent, daring, curious, humorous, outspoken, independent, strong, and determined. Women who I consider to be heroes.

The first woman who comes to mind is the late Elisabeth Kubler Ross, M.D. I first saw her on television shortly after her book “On Death and Dying” was published. I admired the way she put her medical career to the test by standing up for what she believed. Years later I had the opportunity to meet her and spend time with her. That was in 1989 not long after she gave my husband Don Pendleton and I an endorsement for our book, “To Dance With Angels.” When Don nearly died from a heart attack and brain hemorrhage in 1991, Elisabeth was there for me by phone to tell me how important it was for me to stay centered and rested as I might be called upon to make a life/death medical decision and no matter what happened to Don, he would be just fine. I was thankful for that advice at a very difficult time. Then in about 1996 or so, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with her at her home in Arizona. Just her and I. She’d had a stroke, but we shared time together, laughing, eating chocolates, and me putting food out for her coyotes. I shared with her the impact her grief work had on my life. It was a day I will always remember. She was a hero to me: outspoken, determined, not afraid to write and speak of her spiritual experiences, and dedicated to her work. An impressive and inspiring woman.

Another woman who had that innate determination, humor, intelligence, and curiosity about life was my Aunt Loretta, Willie, as I always called her. She died in 1994 at the age of 97. I’ve written about her before. From horse and buggy to rockets to the moon and beyond–all in one lifetime. She was one of those to have seen all this splendid technology unfold before her very eyes. Don and I spoke with her shortly before her death about her long life and all the changes that had taken place since her days as a little girl in the small coal mining towns of Pennsylvania and Colorado at the turn of the twentieth century. She told us, "Yes, I have seen it all from the beginning–automobiles, jet airplanes, television, man on the moon, those computers–so much–and it has been a good life."

So in one lifetime, and five-generations, the advances of mankind have been tremendous. Her great-great grand-children now have high-speed computers beguiling them into a world of "virtual reality" with both educational and entertainment values, state-of-the-art medical technology available to them if the need arises, satellite television programming, DVR's, digitally recorded music, and the vision that they may one day be taking a pleasure cruise to a destination beyond our planet Earth and into the far reaches of space instead of jetting to Europe for the summer.

Aunt Willie told us that it had been a good life but we know that it was her attitude that made it so because she had endured a lot of suffering and pain in those ninety-seven years. It is hard to say how many of us could have come through it all with such strength, dignity, grace, and humor.

These two women personified the word hero.

I believe it was the inspiration of these two older women, and women like them, that led me to create the personality of my fictional character, Catherine Winter in my Catherine Winter, Private Investigator Series. I believe I modeled her after the likes of Elisabeth and Willie. If you read my "Shattered Lens" and "Fractured Image," let me know if you see those traits in Catherine: daring, curious, intelligent, humorous, outspoken, and determined. In my mind, when I conceived Catherine Winter, I envisioned the determination and strength of a hero. She does not wear a "Superman" costume but a “skin” that bounces off disappointments, failures, and set-backs, and loves to tease and laugh, not only laugh with you, but even at herself.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

California Gold Rush Books and Blog

Last night I started a new blog, The California Gold Rush, for my nonfiction history books on the 1849 California Gold Rush, and other 19th century books I've written Introductions for.

Most are Kindle books at this time, and two are also available in print. I may soon put two more of the gold rush books into print.

Take a look at my
new blog