Gramma Ruth left this Earth 9 years ago today. This past April, I wrote this story for Ruthie Lou, the first of many stories that I had planned on writing for her to read as she got older. I find it only fitting to share it with her, with you, with the world today, a day that honors our sweet Gramma Ruth whose family loved her so much, who loved her family so much.
RUTHIE LOU'S NAMESAKE
Once upon a time, there were two little girls who needed a dad. One day, their mother met a wonderful man with a son of his own and the 5 of them became a family. In this dad’s family there was a wonderful, kind and sweet grandmother with many young grandchildren. When this grandmother met these two little girls, she made them part of the family and never looked back.
Gramma was a jolly, plump woman with short white curly hair and hot pink lipstick. She loved her family more than anything. She welcomed everyone into her family, her home and especially her heart. On any given day, Gramma could be found watching a soap opera or game show, with some Crème Puffs or something similar, not too far from her on the couch. She kept a well stocked kitchen full of goodies including EL Fudge cookies, wafer bars, Diet Caffeine Free Soda and she always had crispy chow mein noodles stashed in her kitchen cabinet, perfect for rummaging grandchildren.
Every holiday the family would gather, kids would play outside and large tables of food would be spread for dinner. No holiday would be complete without honey ham, some ambrosia or jello fruit salad and pumpkin pies for dessert! For Christmas, every girl in the family would be gifted matching outfits, we would change into our new clothes immediately and take a large group photo! Gramma loved family photos and would make us pose forever until SHE was happy she got the perfect family portrait. And finally, in our stockings we would always receive a navel orange because somewhere, someplace far away, this was a family tradition for our grandparents.
Summers were full of kids swimming in the pool or playing together in the mini golf course in the backyard. Gramma would be in the water alongside the kids on her floatie but would never be found swimming because she said, “My bottom floats better than the rest of me and I would sink!” We would beg our parents for sleepovers at gramma and grandpas house and would spend the evenings playing dress up in gramma’s closet and rehearsing skits or musicals to perform for our parents.
One day, when the grandkids were all grown up and having families of their own, Gramma fell ill. Her heart had filled with so much love, it stopped working as well as it did when she was young. We loved her so much we would take turns “gramma sitting” and spend afternoons with her laying on her bed, painting her nails, looking at jewelry, watching soaps on TV and hearing stories about the “old days” and how she fell in love with Grandpa.
Then finally, the day had come. We all gathered around and took some time to say our final goodbyes to gramma. As I sat next to her on the bed and cried, I told her thank you for making me part of her family and that I loved her so much. She grabbed my hand and held it tightly and said, “You have always been my granddaughter.” I gave her a big squeeze and kissed her one last time knowing that this was the end of her life. When everyone had had their turn and cried their tears we prepared for her to rest peacefully as she passed away. We waited…and waited…and waited, but nothing happened. We were so grateful to have her a little bit longer!
We continued gramma sitting and enjoying our time with her until again we got the call that this time was the end. So once again, we said our final goodbyes, cried our tears and prepared for her to leave this life. We waited…and waited…and waited, but nothing!
Now let me tell you: Gramma was what we called in our family, a "HAM", always loving attention! At this point we figured gramma really just wanted her family gathering around her so that’s just what we did. We would have dinners, order food, spend weekends at grammas and be the large family we once were when we were young.
And one normal day of family gathering and gramma sitting, the house became quiet. The grandchildren were off, preparing for our gathering of that evening and only the aunts and uncles were at the house with gramma, otherwise the house was quiet…and that was it. Gramma’s heart was so full of love, her family had gathered and loved her as much as we could and she took her final breath. By the time the grandkids returned, gramma had passed and we joined together as a family and celebrated how lucky we were to have such a wonderful gramma in our life.
Dear Ruthie Lou, I love your grandpa Kevin and your great-gramma Ruth so much that I wanted to share that love with you. Love is the most important thing in our life. Sweet girl, we are so blessed to have an amazing family...an amazing family that CHOSE us. ...And here we are nearly 6 months later learning the same lesson I had planned on teaching little miss Ruthie Lou but she in fact taught me, taught us. Love IS the most important thing in our life...and gramma Ruth, along with Ruthie Lou has made that abundantly clear.
Here's to love, peace and lots of joy with the "Ruthie's" being celebrated in LOVE today and everyday. Wishing YOU great love always.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.