We all want to leave a good legacy.
I said good-bye to a sweet friend yesterday named Granny Ruth whose legacy will affect others for generations. I’ m sure Jesus greeted her with a warm “Well done!” as she stepped through the gates of heaven. How I will miss her!
I wrote a story about Granny Ruth in one of my books, Day-votions® for Grandmothers. She was one of the most precious, godly women I’ve ever known, a wonderful example of the “Proverbs Woman,” and someone who always said with her life and her words, “There you are!” not “Here I am!”
Her Legacy Will Live On
Ruth had few wrinkles, but she shared miles of smiles through the years with every person she met. The things we could share (and were shared yesterday) about Ruth’s life would fill a book by itself. And her legacy will live on forever. But as a special, personal tribute to this gracious woman, tender nurse, beautiful friend, sweet servant, and prayer warrior, here is a microscopic look at Granny Ruth’s life as “Everyone’s Granny.”
Her children arise and call her blessed.
She’s not even a grandmother; yet she’s everyone’s granny. Ruth Inman had no grandchildren by her own kids, so she “adopted” her friends’ children and grandchildren through the years. In fact, she and her husband followed some of those dear friends to East Texas years later. Ruth ended up living on a county road outside of town dedicated almost entirely to one whole family—and their grown kids and grandkids. So she “adopted” them as her kids as well.
“The neighborhood children are nearly grown now, but together we shared ice cream and tears on many an occasion—and they still drop by for ice cream,” said Ruth.
Soon after moving to Texas and that neighborhood, one of the adult sons there started introducing her to everyone as “Granny Ruth.” Apparently the name stuck. “Even years later,” she said, “when I meet people for the first time, and I introduce myself as ‘Granny Ruth,’ many say, ‘Oh, you’re Granny Ruth!’” Ruth said it’s much like a stone in the water. Her name has that sort of rippling effect that precedes her.
I think I know why. But I probed a little more into Ruth’s past. She has served God in numerous ways through her life. Playing the piano and acting as secretary for a mission church as a young wife, teaching a Sunday school class for seventh and eighth grade girls, as well as a women’s class, working in Vacation Bible School in her church, and serving on mission and staff search committees—are just a few examples. She’s both a fixture and a lifesaver for her adult choir—as a singer and as one who keeps the music and members organized.
But Ruth’s middle name could be called “Encourager,” and that’s probably one of the main reasons she’s everyone’s “Granny.” God tendered Ruth’s heart for young teen girls and boys early on, and she has looked for ways to connect with them and encourage them with cards and notes. When she observed one of the youth in our church taking a younger, unruly child under his wing during her Vacation Bible School class, Ruth did some wing-tucking of her own—and helped blossom that youth. When another teen lost his father, Ruth sent cards and has expressed concern constantly.
When her daughter came to Ruth heartbroken because of her inability to bear children, Ruth encouraged her gently with words from Isaiah 54: “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor … For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name” (v. 1, 5).
Ruth has adopted scores of other families and their kids in various places, and they still connect, exchanging pictures, notes, and even occasional visits. If you asked people in our church and community how many of them had ever received an encouraging word or card from Granny Ruth, the number would be staggering—whether they’re eight years old or eighty. She happens to be one of five women who pray for my family and me, and for my speaking and writing ministry—and the cards I personally have received from her would fill a huge box alone. And the thing is, when Granny Ruth says she’s praying for you, you know she is.
No one thinks of Granny Ruth as a “senior.” She looks like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine; and you only notice the few crinkles (not wrinkles) around her eyes because of the tears that glisten when her tender heart shines through.
Perhaps Ruth understands the deeper meaning of successful “grand” mothering. It has more to do with how many children you’ve nurtured in the Lord, rather than how many descendants adorn your family tree. Like the woman in Proverbs 31, Ruth “speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” No one could ever say she eats the “bread of idleness” (and in hospitality, she is queen) (vv. 26-27). Ruth, of course, would be quick to point out her flaws—but her “grandchildren” hardly notice.
Married almost fifty-nine years, she is a mentor, a role model, and an ageless grandmother to scores of children, youth—and adults. I have a feeling that one day in heaven someone will ask her if she has any grandchildren. And before Granny Ruth can smile and answer, a throng of children will arise—and call her blessed.
Have you ever “adopted” others as your grandchildren? Ask God to show you how you can be an encourager and a grandmother to many who need God’s touch on their lives.
Wrinkles come from miles of smiles.
Lord, help me to see the needs of others around me through your eyes. Give me words of encouragement and wisdom to share with those who need a touch from you.
- © 2010 by Rebecca Barlow Jordan, Day-votions® for Grandmothers, Heart to Heart Encouragement, Zondervan
What a special time of year to celebrate a homegoing–with the celebration of Easter and Jesus’ resurrection coming up! Granny Ruth is now praising in person the resurrected Savior she served for over eight decades of her life this Easter.
You’ll find a perspective on a mom’s legacy in this blog.
What Will Your Legacy Say?
Do you know someone who has left a wonderful legacy to celebrate? What would you like your legacy to say?