The First Ruby

Some days I come to write and my thoughts are clear as to what I want to say. Others, like today, I have so many things swirling around in my mind I it difficult to share but I’ll do my best and hope some good will come of it.

Writing about the children in my family pulls my mind to thoughts of who we are in the larger context of family. The next niece I will write about is Ruby, but first I need to write about my grandmother, my mother’s mother, the first Ruby.

We lived out in the country, north of Canton close to Waleska, GA. When we were children, it truly was country. My grandfather had a farm and gave land to each of his 3 children when they married so we all lived close together but close together in the country is very different than close together as we consider these days with subdivisions and neighborhoods with sidewalks that pass closely by each house where neighbors can see each other as they come and go.

Nanny and Papa, as we called them, lived across “the holler’ from us. Until my uncle built a house behind ours, there was nothing but thickly grown trees that stretched for miles, and we loved roaming those woods where many hours of fun and play occurred. We had a trail beaten down through them that crossed the branch where we could get our feet wet and nicely muddy over to Nanny’s house. They seemed to always have the doors open except for the three months of Winter where the chill forced them to close up and turn on the gas heaters, one in each end of the house. Nanny had an old wringer washer on the back porch where she did her laundry and a clothes line where she hung them up to dry.

Some of my fondest memories are of eating at her small table that was nestled in her tiny, primitive kitchen. Having few modern conveniences never kept her from feeding us well and she was always ready to whip something yummy up which she could always do in a matter of minutes. While we sat and watched her move around the kitchen, our mouths watered at the thought of what she was about to bring out. Sometimes it was a cobbler or bowls of wild strawberries sliced with sugar and sweet milk poured over them. Other times it was a piece of fried meat that although it tasted great it left you wondering what you had just eaten because when you asked she would simply say “it’s meat, honey, just eat it, it’s good!”

We all knew Nanny would shoot and cook up a squirrel or rabbit if one happened by because on several occasions while I was visiting with her at the kitchen table in the midst of conversations she would glance out the door and say “wait just a minute honey, I’ll be right back.” She would then get her gun that was propped behind the door, walk outside and shoot a squirrel right out of the tree from the porch steps, then come back in, sit back down and say “now go ahead with what you were telling me.” We would later go and retrieve the kill, but she never cleaned it while I was around. Instead, she would send me on my way shortly leaving me with ideas of what she was doing with that poor old squirrel.

Nanny was always busy. She hated Winter time because her passion was the outdoors. Not only did she hunt, she loved to fish and anytime one of her boys asked if she would like to go either hunting or fishing she was ready on the spot. She had a dark complexion and it was furthered on by her days spent in the sun, gardening/farming, hunting, fishing, or walking to our house or the neighbors for visits. When cooped up inside during the Winter months she pieced quilts by hand, worked puzzles, watched ballgames on TV and dreamed of Springtime when she could return to the nature she loved.

I well remember Nanny talking to me when I was already having trouble coping with the burdens of life in my early years and telling me that God didn’t want His children to be sad. She said, “if He hadn’t wanted us to be happy and enjoy life, why would He have made everything so beautiful?” She would point out the amazing beauty of His creation and encourage me to try and enjoy my days.

Nanny was a tomboy in every sense of the word and unless she was going to church or the funeral home she always wore pants. She didn’t care what her hair looked like most days and would just laugh as it was unruly and would also joke about her clothing and shoes. She had nice things but preferred wearing what was well broken in by years of use, and for her shoes…bless her heart, she worked so hard and was always on her feet so she suffered from corns something awful and would cut holes in her shoes to keep pressure off the corns. She would just laugh and laugh about it.

About the frivolous, my down to earth, earthy Nanny, simply didn’t care.

All of these reflections make me smile. Both of my grandmothers’ lives have left a lasting impression on me. So many times I think of their struggles and their strength. Both were women of faith, very different in many ways, but honest and sincere, good women of character, both of whom I am very proud. I’ll share about Grandma Davis soon. But for today, my heart was leading me to my Nanny, and so I share with you my sweet remembrance of days I was blessed to spend with her.

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