A worthy award

Louis Nizer said: A beautiful lady is an accident of nature. A beautiful old lady is a work of art.

Stuck for a column idea, I asked my wife, Anna, for help. “I have no ideas for a column,” she answered. “Only one exciting thing has happened to me lately; I got an award.”

“That’s it,” I said, jumping up and running to my computer. Anna should have received an award, actually a number of awards, for all she has done for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t ‘think to give her the award – somebody else did.        

For almost 54 years, Anna has stood by me when I needed her, even when I didn’t know I needed her. In our first great adventure, she became my business partner, keeping the books, manning the telephone and working in the electronics shop.

When kids arrived, she became a mother 100 per cent of the time, yet somehow found an extra 25 per cent to keep the business on track. When we began another adventure, going to college, she successfully managed the household and family on half the money, and earned a few college credits as well. Other adventures followed: off to Africa; back home to resettle in Canada; guiding the boys through college and university; then into a writing career.

When I began writing for a large company, Anna’s attention to detail and natural skill at proofreading saved my neck often. I took work home for her to proofread. She even came into the office to help me and worked one Saturday to meet a major deadline. When the company found out about her, instead of firing me for ineptitude, they started paying her.

Then I retired early and began a freelance writing career. Once again she managed the finances, proofread everything I wrote and kept me from missing deadlines or forgetting appointments. She did such good work that Dr. Chris Marantika, a seminary and university professor in Indonesia, asked her to become his English-language secretary; we couldn’t accept even though he said he’d find a job for me.

In recent years, Anna has suffered short-term memory loss and has relinquished many of her duties. In some ways we have changed positions, but she still proofreads expertly and so saves much work for my editors. Yet somehow, in spite of all that, I didn’t think to give her an award; I keep leaving that to others.

On June 17 when I received the Leslie K. Tarr award, I went forward to receive it thinking Anna deserved it as much as I did. Then the “exciting thing” that Anna spoke of happened. They called her to the front and presented an award to her, saying, “We have never done this before and may never do it again.”

The award reads, “Special recognition award, presented to Anna Wiseman in recognition of her exceptional support for the writing career of her husband Ray Wiseman, winner of the 2009 Leslie K. Tarr Award. Presented June 17, 2009 by The Word Guild.”

Not often do other people recognize what a wife has done for her husband. Yet Anna in her quiet way has attracted the attention of a large corporation, a university president and an association of writers. How fortunate for me that I saw her first.


Ray Wiseman