Perhaps you have noticed in many of my postings I often mention a special person. Growing up, I didn’t have grandparents, but I did have my beloved Aunt Ruby. She was my father’s sister and the best woman I have ever known. And she loved me unconditionally.
At age eight, she experienced a devastating train-auto accident that took the lives of her parents and baby sister, leaving her and my father orphans. As a young mother, she suffered through the loss of her two youngest children in separate accidents. Despite these hardships, Aunt Ruby never succumbed to bitterness, but remained a warm and kindhearted person throughout her life.
There is much I don’t know about this gracious and thoughtful woman. In my child-like way, I though she existed just for me! And in many ways she did, always more interested in me than in talking about herself. The few stories she told me of her life always were told with her innate sense of humor. She once told me of hitchhiking from Illinois to Texas with her husband and their two-year old child during the depression because they heard there might be work there. They ended up with more money when they arrived in Texas than when they left Illinois because so many people wanted to give her son a few coins. Her very nature led her to be amazed that strangers generously gave them rides and money, not looking down on the family or resentful of their current circumstances.
She was known for her gorgeous hair that changed from brown to a startling beautiful white mane by the time she was 19. With her twinkling blue eyes and comforting arms, there was never a doubt in my mind that she would do anything for me.
Aunt Ruby, her brother Ray (my dad), and me.
Aunt Ruby was aware of my contentious relationship with my mother, particularly during my teen years. At age 15, I called her one day and told her I had run away from home. She didn’t miss a beat. She simply said, tell me where you are and we’ll come get you. Even as an obnoxious 15-year old, I felt sheepish telling her “April Fool!”
The reason she said “we’ll come get you” is because she never had a driver’s license so would need her husband to drive her. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t know how to drive. She once told me of driving a Model T and trying to run over a woman her husband, Uncle Ike, was “stepping out” with. I said “stepping out?” and her response was “You know what I mean!”
Throughout my life I have often wondered just what made Aunt Ruby such an exemplary human being and the best aunt I could hope for. Luckily for me, it seems to simply have been her nature. Whenever I find myself in a particularly challenging or uncomfortable situation, I tell myself to channel Aunt Ruby. She was a true lady.
While I’ll never know everything I would like to about my beloved aunt, I will always know this. I loved her unconditionally.
Read the blog on Wednesday to find out the effect this wonderful woman had on the five children my mother brought into her marriage to Ruby’s bachelor brother.
C’est la vie.