I love books and words and ideas using that particular medium. Historical fiction fascinates me. It often tells of a time years beyond my ken. This summer, I’ve run across two stories of women being wed at a young age and their experiences. One is set in the early 1800’s and is across Cook Inlet. The other begins in 1892 in Tennessee. ‘Tatiana’ and ‘Maude’.
Maude’s life was tumultuous. The author writes for Maude, ‘I’d already been an orphan, a wife, and a mother. Now I was a widow. I was only three months past my sixteenth birthday.’ She eventually remarries. The two are not entirely compatible, Maude is often unhappy, but things manage to work. They had several children, battled disease, loss, the Depression, and war. She was a survivor and brought strength to her family. I thought this quote was a good synopsis of Maude’s story: ‘I think now God gives each one of us a measure of happiness for our lives, and some are allowed more than others. It’s like the ration stamps that were handed out during the war, so much butter, so much sugar, and then no more. I also think that sometimes the good stretches are so good that it must count for double time…’
Tatiana was a child of two different cultures. She runs away from her Russian father to remain a Dena’ina Athabaskan. It was not easy for this beautiful educated girl to adapt to the harsh life of surviving one day at a time. Her only companion was a boy she hardly knew, her father sent bounty hunters after them, and she had to defend herself many times. Yet, Tazdlin loved her, she was cherished, and continued to learn and then to instruct. This beautiful thought is near the end of the story of Tatiana. ‘Regardless of the invisible forces, no single person, couple, or tribe of that day could have accomplished what they did together. Tazdlin’s unmatched skills and physical abilities complimented Tatiana’s unique penchant for higher morals, making them a historically unique force for good in that land.’
As different as the two stories are, they are remarkably similar in many ways. The main characters had to leave beloved families in their early teens to join with an older young man. Both women were loved by their parents. They often had to fight the persecution of being a woman in a “male” world. Changes were rapid and often harsh. Items of a monetary value were scarce and both women used their creativity to bring money in. Each woman remembered lessons they had learned from their mothers and taught new generations. The youngest of these women’s children were males with mental difficulties. In each story, faith was an important part of the lives of Tatiana and Maude.
Each story was written by a descendant of the main character. ‘Maude’ was scribed in a typical conversational chapter format from memories Donna had of the stories Maude shared. ‘Tatianta’ is a story told to a modern reader like none other I’ve read, or remember reading. In both, oral tradition brought these adventures thru time to today. Donna’s daughter asked her to write down Maude’s story, Rachel was asked a question by her daughter, which led to the crafting of ‘Tatiana’.
I often caught myself writing down thoughts from these incredible tales of two women. I could relate to facets in each main character. I also found this a comforting reminder: No matter what the differences in time and culture, people are pretty much the same.