I believe you are a very blessed person if you have someone in your life
who can truly inspire you, give you unconditional love, someone you admire so
enormously that tears well up in your eyes at the thought of them.
Ruby is that person for me.
She was born in the late 1890’s in Kentucky. When the flu of 1918 hit, her
Daughter, Velada, was 2 weeks old. Frank, her young husband, was one of the
unfortunate ones to catch the flu and die. Folks in Kentucky still tell me
how Miss Ruby helped nurse one of their loved ones after the loss of her husband, while she kept a farm going and cared for her new baby girl.
Ruby had only a 7th grade education, but she opened a millinery store, took
in laundry and ran a farm. In all the years I knew Ruby, I never saw her
get angry or say a bad word about anyone. Well, maybe that’s not totally
true. Occasionally I’d hear her say, “I’m so hot that I’ve got to tighten
up my shoelaces so I don’t go straight up.”
Groceries were scarce and there wasn’t enough food but she could always
scrape up a potato to fry, make fresh snow ice cream or magically find some
dried apples for a tiny pie. Of course she was always full and couldn’t
eat another bite. She could make me believe that my hand me downs or
thrift store dresses were one of a kind, unlike dresses that were all
the same off the store’s rack.
She gave me skills I would need through life. Ruby told me the
stories of the Bible and taught me to be grateful and to say my prayers daily. She
taught me to be self-sufficient. I still feel the urge to dig up dirt
under a rotting log to take back to my undernourished garden. Ruby told me her beauty
secrets that I still use today: “Whatever you do to your face, do to your
neck too, she said. Sharing makes you joyful; feed the birds in winter.”
.And, whether I got too cocky or things were getting me down, her answer was the
same: , “Remember your roots and where you came from.”
Ruby was there to make my doll clothes from scraps, to tell me I was the
smartest, the prettiest, and that I was capable of anything I would ever
want to do in life. I believe it takes only one Ruby in a child’s life to
make her believe in herself. This is what I believe.
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