My Grandma Ruthie passed away on Thursday. For years she struggled with a strong body but a fading mind. She was ready to move on and I’m sure her soul soared once she was free from her frail and failing mind, into the joy of eternity, reunited with her beloved Dean.
But this physical world lost a bring shining light on Thursday. Grandma Ruthie was one of my biggest heroes. She was full of humility and grace, hard work, grit and love. She was meticulous and caring, creative and resourceful, witty and frank. I loved her squeaky voice, her love of children and teaching, her sense of order and routine, her firm faith in Christ, but mostly, I loved the love that radiated through her whole being. I always felt cherished by her. Like I was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Grandma Ruthie was one of the great minds behind Joy School. I have loved feeling extra connected to her as I’ve taught my children in Joy School. Her order and sensibility and old school charm is poured into the lesson plans. Sometimes while preparing lessons I felt like I could hear her voice, telling me how to make apple sauce, how to ensure the children kept things neat, how to help the children become engaged. I could hear her talking to me about the importance of puzzles and stories and rules and finger plays. I feel like she has been imprinted on my children through Joy School. I love that. Grandma Ruthie was an elegant lady. A dancer. A beautiful home maker. She was as thrifty and resourceful as they come. She had to be, she was widowed when my dad was only 16 with 4 younger siblings. She always fed us powdered milk and home made apple sauce. She made things work and last and stretch.
Since she passed I’ve been thinking about the things she handed down to me, and to my kids. They didn’t get to see her that much before her mind started going, but they each have a special unique connection wit her. Hazel inherited her amazing ability to work with young children. I always think of Grandma Ruthie when I hear Hazel patiently negotiating little children through activities and lessons. Hazel even set up her very own little preschool this summer with some of Em’s friends. She is a natural (and she didn’t get that from me!)Charlie had a special bond with Grandma because he was born on her beloved Dean’s birthday. We had decided to give him Dean as a middle name even before he decided to come on that significant day. Charlie feels very bonded to Grandpa Dean and always seemed to try to pour out love onto Grandma Great on Dean’s behalf. I love this picture (above). They had a unique kind of connection. Grandma’s genes shine through Emmeline in the way she likes to keep everything tidy and organized. She always knows exactly where everything is. She puts her things away. She makes her bed. This is not something I have trained her well to do (sadly I’m no good at training my kids to do things like that) it’s something she got from her Grandma Great. And Peter (who really won’t remember his grandma great at all) got her humility and charm. She was a witty, likeable lady. And he’s a witty, likeable lad. Here are a few of the times I’ve been able to see Grandma Ruthie over the past few years. How I wished we’d have spent more time with her. Here she is covered in grandkids. At this point she didn’t know who most of them were but her heart still radiated love for each one of them. She especially brightened up when they sang Joy School songs. She’d ask, “Did I have something to do with that Joy School?” and always seemed so happy when we told her the grand influence she had had on so many children’s lives.
The last time I saw dear Grandma was this summer at my cousins bridal shower. Even though she slept through most of it it just felt right to have her matriarchal presence there. I wish I had a picture with her that day.
Now that generation in my family tree is gone. Ruth was my last living grandparent. I am certain that she lives on. I see her live on through all of us -- 5 children, 23 grandchildren, 51 great grandchildren! And I know she is living on in another sphere with her beloved Dean.
In a beautiful blue lagoon on a clear day, a fine sailing ship spreads
its brilliant white canvas in a fresh morning breeze and sails out to the open sea.
We watch her glide away magnificently through the deep blue and
gradually see her grow smaller and smaller as she nears the horizon. Finally,
where the sea and sky meet, she slips silently from sight; and someone near me says,
"There, she is gone!" Gone where? Gone from sight, that is all.
She is still as large in mast and hull and sail, still just as able to bear her load.
And we can be sure that, just as we say, "There, she is gone!"
another says, "There, she comes!"
- Paul H. Dunn
God’s plan is great.