Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Missing Ruth

My mother-in-law exited life last Monday night. There was no warning, no lingering illness to remind us that we need to visit more and do more and care more. The chance is gone and I feel more than raw. I didn’t appreciate enough the wonderful mother-in-law I had. Mother-in-law jokes just didn’t apply to her. Even though I married one of her precious three sons, I never felt threatened by her in any way. She exuded acceptance and tolerance even when we didn't see eye to eye. As a young wife and mother, she taught me how to bottle peaches and pears. I was so proud of that first batch I did with her. Best of all though, she taught me that what I thought mattered to her.

One of my best memories is playing Trivial Pursuit with her. I believe that Ruth was one of the most intelligent people I knew—her memory for details made her a brilliant conversationalist too. I always felt completely accepted by her and she made a point to support me whenever she could. She came to book signings. She came to pottery sales. She bought books. She bought pottery. She validated me without flattery.

Wow, I love this picture of Ruth holding her first son with her handsome husband. They lived in a big house in tiny Etna Utah. Out in the sticks doesn't begin to describe it. Could she have imagined this life just a couple of years earlier while studying at Berkley?
My husband is holding our first son. Ruth is in the stripes.
Ruth and Mick in Yellowstone
Ruth with Ginger
But as good as a mother-in-law was, she was an even better grandma. I have fond memories of her sitting on the floor of the living room and playing UNO with my kids. She also took them swimming. My kids strongly suspected they were Grandma’s favorites out of all the grandkids, but maybe the others thought so too. My children felt adored by her even though she didn’t gush or smother them with hugs. A down to earth woman who lived life simply and to the fullest. Things were not important to her, but people and relationships were.  Knowledge and education were key. She graduated from Berkley in the 1940’s when young women from rural Utah didn’t do such things. She married a rancher and moved to the tiny town of Grouse Creek. When things didn't turn out well there, she did what had to be done to survive. She eventually earned her masters degree and taught school for at least 27 years. 
Here she is holding our first grandson. She attended the blessing.

Even though she didn’t attend church all that much, if one of her kids or grandkids were giving a talk, or receiving a special calling, or going on a mission, or blessing a child, she supported them, often with her presence, but if not with an encouraging word. It was not about the church. It was about the people she cared for. When our son went on a mission she paid a monthly amount toward it and purchased his luggage. This was not a woman who had extra money. She longed to travel. She longed to fix up her house. She did manage to do some traveling, but her house never got fixed up. She sacrificed and made do and was generous to a fault.  Living life the way it should be lived didn’t amount to attending meetings. What mattered is what you did on a day-to-day basis. Ethics and moral behavior wasn’t talked about—it was lived.  I miss you Ruth. You were one of a kind.


KimWar said...

What a beautiful woman, thank you for your words.

JoLynne Lyon said...

What a great lady! I'm sorry for your loss but I'm glad you had a person like her in your life.

Josi said...

I remember when she came to the presentation we did in Garland, I thought it was so sweet that she'd come out even when you said she'd heard it all before. :-) I hope one day my daughter-in-law will say such kind things about me. So sorry for your loss, but so glad you had such a wonderful woman in your life.

Janet Kay Jensen said...

Lovely tribute. Shades of my mother, who also earned a master's degree through working very hard, and taught school . . . and was a wonderful grandma. We can only hope to do that well.