Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grandma Rubye and John

I love to read blogs and they often trigger memories, things forgotten in the rush as we move through life.  This is a favorite and I would love to share.

Grandma Rubye was my father's mother.  She was about as big as a minute, 5'2", about 110 lbs, fiesty as all get out and yet, every inch the Southern Belle.  She cooked good Southern food (read: biscuits and gravy and fried chicken), was a seamstress (made my wedding dress) and could and did put a dried pussy willow branch into the ground and coax it into living and growing into a tree.  She could also drink you under the table and I am sure from whence I inherited my love of beer.

My older brother, Bill, joined the Navy when he was 17, I think, maybe 18.  Of course, through basic training and tech school the whole family corresponded with him and once he was assigned a ship, he would share his family missives with his buddies.  Letters from Grandma Rubye got put on a bulletin board so everyone could see and we all baked dozens of cookies and packed them in real popcorn to send as care package to be shared with the crew.

Bill came home at least once during his tour and brought John home with him.  John and Bill served on the same ship and were buddies.  And John fell madly in love with Grandma Rubye. 

Bill separated from the service in '74 or '75 and John went on to do another tour, this time European (they were originally in the Pacific).  John sent Grandma presents from wherever he was including a beautiful and very expensive cameo he got for her in Italy. When he finally separated, John chose to settle in the same town we live in and he would come visit Grandma Rubye regularly.  He would bring her flowers, take her out to dinner, and just sit and pay attention to her. 

Now, Grandma was loved and appreciated by all of us.  She never did without and all she ever had to do was ask and anyone of us would bend over backward to comply with her every wish.  But we weren't a sweet young man who doted and paid court to her even with the most innocent of motivations. 

In the late 80's, Grandma was diagnosed with emphysema.   From Memorial Day to Labor Day, she failed rapidly.  John was ever present.  He even bought a window air conditioner for her room. She lived with my folks, and my parents were shocked and somewhat embarrassed.  They could have/would have done that, but John was so wrapped up in Grandma, he never even considered the appearance of his actions.

Grandma passed away shortly afterward.  John kind of drifted away.  He would ocassionally stick his head in the door just to let us all know he was doing ok.  I haven't seen him in years now.

However, I will never forget the young sailor that made my Grandma feel like a pretty young girl again.  Who was so gallant and caring.  He was and is a real hero to me. 

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