Thank you Ruby June. A tribute to my grandmother on Mother's Day.
I sat down originally to share a little bit about my own experiences as a mother to two young children but something happened tonight that inspired me to do a little re-writing. I was working on cutting out a pair of pants for the baby from an old floral pillowcase when it hit me. I'd seen a very similar pair of pants before. When my first daughter (who is now almost 6) was a baby my grandmother made her a tiny pair of pants out of leftover quilt fabric. They were funny little pants but so practical and terribly cute with a little diapered bum in them. Little moments like this have been happening a lot lately. It's been increasingly obvious that so many things in my life are influenced by my grandmother and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank her for everything that she gave me.
Ruby June was born in 1925 and passed away this past New Years Day at the very respectable age of 85. Her life spanned a great depression, five wars, men landing on the moon, radio, television and the internet. The world going faster and faster as she aged. She grew up poor, one of 10 children and was what we consider now "uneducated". She told me so many stories of the days when there was no indoor plumbing, of gathering fresh eggs from the chicken coop and watching her father and brothers plow the fields with horses. And when she was a young woman during "the war" drawing faux stocking seams up the backs of her legs with an eyebrow pencil because she couldn't buy real stockings. I still laugh thinking about that, can you imagine!? She was married twice and gave birth to 8 children, one of which was my mother whom she didn't have until she was 38. She worked at a day care when my aunts and uncles were little so she spent much of her life caring for children and it showed. She was kind, patient, had the most beautiful twinkly eyes and was so silly. She never took herself too seriously. Even though she was 58 when I was born she was never too old to play with reckless abandon. She made dolls for me (which I still have) out of bits of leftover material and taught me how to draw faces on funny shaped rocks and how to stick toothpicks in potatoes to make little potato men. She told me stories and sang songs from the "old days" which I now sing to my own babies. She wore clothing that she made herself or mended with large appliques. She used paint and red felt pens to draw pictures, faces and sayings on rocks, gourds and walnut shells. She was a fierce opponent at dominoes and always had a puzzle on the table. She kept chickens (much to her neighbors chagrin), she had peach trees and her garden was her pride and joy. She taught me to sew and to find value in things that someone else might over look. She was the queen of reduce and reuse before it was a trend. But she instilled those values in me without my realizing it until I had my own children.
I miss her desperately but know that she'll never truly be gone. When I look in the mirror I see her eyes. I'm stubborn, clumsy, and a "collector" just like her. When I look at my daughter I see her adorable little nose. The same daughter who coincidentally carries her great-grandmother's middle name and her willful independence. She's here always, such a large part of our lives and tomorrow when I sew up those tiny little recycled pants for my baby, she'll be right there too. I hope this Mother's Day you'll take a moment to remember and celebrate all of the amazing women in your life who've helped shape you into the beautiful person you are today!