A Woman of Much Importance…

The famous Aunt Ruby walked into my life two to three years before she did in Stormy’s. She was the beloved sister of the man brave enough to date and later marry my mother, a struggling divorcee with five energetic ragamuffins between the ages of 2 to 11. 

Mom, her new husband, and her five little ones – August 9, 1953

We children where introduced to her around 1952.  We all climbed into dad’s silvery teal Mercury and drove from Indiana to Ruby’s house in Illinois. Like her brother, Ruby was quiet and I thought quite dignified, yet we discovered her quick humor when we would tell her our bad kid jokes or act out as brothers and sisters often do. As we grew to know her, she became a treasured member of our cabal.  She kept our secrets.

Mom and Dad with Aunt Ruby, the matron of honor and Uncle Ike, best man.

She eventually began to fill the role of an absent grandmother. It was comforting sitting next to her while engaged in absorbing child–adult conversations.  Like my dad she was very intelligent and could add to any subject our youthful minds would conjure. 

For all her attributes, to me, an inquisitive preteen, the most valued was her frank honesty. It was an absolute boon to us kids.

As children we had been surrounded by adults who were not always judicious with the truth. We received answers that were often meant to mollify us and telegraph the idea that we were not included in family decisions. My mother was known for stonewalling and refusing to answer our questions, while making us think we should never have even asked…

When Aunt Ruby entered our lives, things changed.  Ruby, when queried, would look you in the eyes and answer honestly with further explanation should it be needed. When my mother realized this, if we asked her questions about the dreaded sex or biology subjects, she would quickly suggest we “ask your Aunt Ruby”.  Eventually we would go to our Aunt if she was available. She opened our minds to other ideas and opinions. That gift, both she and my dear Dad gave me, was the okay to be honest about situations. It occasionally causes consternation to me and others especially when they disagree.  But right or wrong I usually have some opinion…(ask my siblings and friends).  Thank you Aunt Ruby.  


It’s just her nature…

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.

A young Aunt Ruby.

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.

Rock-a-bye Stormy…

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.

Aunt Ruby with my first born, Emmet.

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.