These quiet winter months have given me a chance to read more and I’ve met some interesting people between the pages – including electronic as well as paper pages.  I’ve been reading biographies the last few weeks and, as always happens in my case, I start looking for more information on the subjects I’ve met.  By coincidence, I’ve been reading about men and found that the women who shared their lives are every bit as fascinating, maybe more so.  You hear about the women behind the men, but I’ve learned that these women almost always are right there beside them, often through thick or thin in the every interpretation of that phrase from their wedding vows.

The first biography I finished was Steve Jobs.  Using his incredible creations made me more interested in the man with all the quirkiness and brilliance we have heard about.  I didn’t even know he was married, which was my ignorance but also due to his desire to keep his personal life private.  Laurene Powell Jobs is a remarkable woman who totally understood her husband.  He must have been hell to live with, but she accepted all sides of who he was and together they raised a lovely family.  She was also the philanthropic member of the family, giving her time and resources to educational interests of hers.  No matter what conclusion I had come to about them as a couple, the most touching thing I read was a description of the last meeting of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, when Jobs knew he was dying.  One of their topics was how lucky they both were to find wives that understood them so well.  Thanks that they recognize it!  I don’t think there are biographies of Laurene, but all who marvel over Jobs and his Apple products in our lives should also be thanking the stars for this beautiful, strong woman who stood right beside him.  They were a unique and modern love story.


The second biography I read was The Hearsts, which I had purchased right after visiting Hearst Castle last summer.  While touring that incredible home, I was as intrigued by William Randolph Hearst’s parents as I was by him.  George Hearst was an uneducated genius at mining who lived in the right time and was in the right place – much as Steve Jobs was.  He became one of the richest men in the world through common sense and hard work.  One of his greatest decisions, at the age of 41, was to return to his hometown in Missouri to find a wife and come back with 19 year old Phoebe Apperson, a girl of some education and some teaching background.  Maybe his skills at mining taught him to spot something valuable in this young girl or maybe he just got lucky.  Her accomplishments influence us today as much as either her husband or her only son and her influence on both of them made them the men they became.  She did it all through the ups and downs of health and wealth.  We should all know her story without thinking as she helped bring us kindergartens and the PTA.  She was instrumental in helping the University of California develop and grow, and marched for women’s votes when she was seventy.  Essentially also a private person, she lived a large public life in a marriage that was based on love and respect, if not too many shared interests.  Who would have ever suspected all that this midwestern girl would become?  Another unconventional love story for the ages.


The next book I read was The Aviator’s Wife, a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I’ve read many of Anne’s books and diaries and consider A Gift from the Sea to be a must read for all women.  Once again, the husband was a man larger than life and the wife was a young girl who loved her privacy.  If we think that the media hounds political or other public celebrities today, we have to look at the horror that was the life of Charles Lindbergh and his family as they dodged the press.  The handsome aviator was a rigid, demanding man who could not be wrong and that is the worst to live with.  Fortunately, Anne also loved him and was willing to meet the challenging demands he made of her.  She became the first woman to receive a first class glider pilot’s license and learned to navigate for her husband on their world wide flights.  Nobody could imagine what the kidnapping and murder of their first child would do to the world’s most glamorous couple.  It contributed to making him colder and more withdrawn and her stronger, for sure.  They persevered and held together, with Anne truly into her own when she wrote A Gift from the Sea and became a recognized author, all while raising their five children.  This was not an easy man to be married to, but Anne stood beside him to the end, becoming truer to her own dreams.  I’m not sure his star would still have shined as brightly to the end, even with his accomplishments, without her.  Even with his hidden families, I do believe he knew she was always there.


After reading these books, I was also remembering Mary Montgomery Borglum, the wife of Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mt. Rushmore.  I saw a horrible show on him on the History Channel this week which only skimmed the information I had learned from a stack of books I read about them after visiting Mt. Rushmore.  Once again, this quiet wife stood beside this giant genius man and kept life sane in his larger than life quest for his art.  There are days I’m very glad I wasn’t married to a creative genius!  Hugs to these women who stick with that life.


There are so many of these women, some standing beside men who wish they would step back, while others were proud to have them there.  The message of the stories of the famous should be to look around us at the women we know who do the same.  I know women have come a long way, but most of us still take our responsibilities as wives and mothers seriously.  Most of us give little thought to prioritizing our lives with family first.  What I’ve found, like the women in these stories, is that having that as a priority often brings us knowledge and opportunities that we use to become even stronger women than we would have without that husband and children.

The joy of discovery is that one inquisitive thought leads to a discovery that uncovers new information which leads to new insights.  Thank you to all the women I continually discover who have inspired me throughout my life.  Today, I salute Laurene, Phoebe, Anne and Mary!  There are so many more…