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.
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.
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.