My brother and I were most blessed to live ‘just up the orchard’ from our maternal grandparents, Bill and Ruth/ Granddad, and Grammy.
Our paternal grandmother just lived a mile up the road from us in the little village/town called Eckert.
But today, this is a story about my sweet, kind, gentle grandmother, Ruth Love (Wootton) Thomas.
She was a fantastic southern cook, loved to tell us stories, was a teacher of education to children in the First through Third grades and at one point the postmistress of their little town in New Mexico.
My brother and I could spend as much time as we wanted at their house, as long as we walked (we ran, just say’n) through the orchard and let Mom know we were going and then let Gram know when we were heading back home.
Life was simple then.
Over time, after Granddad passed on; Grammy’s mind deteriorated into a form of dementia, of which we never really learned the medical name.
It was hard and sad to see her become a totally different person than who she had been — she became suspicious, fanciful, full of anger and delusional.
One afternoon, when I was visiting with her, she told me that she had now become the Velveteen Rabbit. It was a very sad and poignant moment. It broke my heart. My heart broke even more when she reached over and patted me on the knee.
“No matter what,” she said with a sly little smile, “I am still real.” I held her hand and agreed.
For some reason, she has been weighing heavy on my mind– these last few days.
I can see her as she was when I was a child, who she was when I had my children, and then what the horrible disease, which turned her into a whole other person, just before she died.
Then last night I dreamed I was her the day she stepped out the shell of her body and went to the other side.
I dreamed Granddad/ Will was there, waiting to give me (Grammy) a gentle tug on my hand to lift me up to him.
He made my heart sing, Will always made my heart sing.
I turned to Will…. “It’s been hard, Dear One,” I told him. “I had a highly functioning brain then the rug was pulled out from me. The fall has been long and terrifying.”
“I know, My Sweet Thing, I know.” He smiled. “Here take my hand”, he offered.
So I did.
Ruth Love Wotton Thomas
June 1, 1902—March 22, 1999