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Her heart spoke volumes

October 26, 2015

She has been a confidante, a friend, and most importantly an “adopted” grandparent. Grandma Ruth Lee is the matriarch of our church.  At 95 years young, she has been a guiding force in our lives for many years.  She is an encourager and prayer warrior, cementing her place in my heart one day over “coffee”.

As an organizer’s for our church’s National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day service, I had no idea the first year would help Grandma Ruth. “We didn’t have those things back in the day.”  As a momma who has miscarried three babies, my heart momentarily leapt to my throat. Grandma Ruth lost a baby too? I never knew. Little did I know how much she really does understand the longing to want to hold your baby, one more time!

Grandma Ruth grew up on the South Dakota prairie in a home where “God was always with her”.  Recently she shared how relieved she was to learn Ruth Graham didn’t have a special faith acceptance day either.  God was just always with her, and so too, was her mom.  She was mother, friend, and sister to Ruth as an only child.  Even in her 90’s, she still speaks reverently of her parents and her childhood. She went to college to become a teacher, fell in love with her high school sweetheart, and lived a very quiet life. . . until America joined World War II.

Leaving her classroom in Iowa for a few short days, she traveled to Mississippi to marry her love.  Ruth and Bob Lee were wed on Christmas Day in 1941 in the manse of the Presbyterian church.  Without today’s fanfare, they celebrated by going to the movies with the couple who stood up for them. She felt an urgency to return to her school and didn’t tarry long enough to have the honor of pinning her newlywed’s wings.  Today, she laments that decision, following her brain and sense of duty, rather than following her heart and staying for the formal aviators’ graduation.

Her trip “home” was not without complications, however.  The taxi which was supposed to pick her up never arrived, prompting she and Bob to walk to the station.  They arrived in time to see the train pull away.  She had to wait until the next day for the next northbound railcar, which broke down halfway back to Iowa, causing her to resort to telegraphing the school along the route.  Exhausted, she returned four days later than expected.

B17 Super Fortress World War 2 Bomber

B17 Super Fortress World War 2 Bomber

She finished the school year, and along the way discovered she was expecting their first child.  Grandma Ruth returned home to live with her parents while her beloved was halfway around the world flying fifty-one missions at the helm of a B-17 flying fortress.  Waiting for the arrival of a new baby was a delicate time when your husband was serving his country thousands of miles away.

When I first met Grandma Ruth, she was already the matriarch of a family and a church family.  The momma of four and grandmother of many, she loved our family like her own offering comfort to us when our oldest son died. The story I learned a decade after first meeting Grandma was their precious David Paul was born, but lived a little more than an hour. She wrote every day to Bob, but the only letter he ever received was the one informing him of his baby son’s death.  Upon learning the news, all he wanted to know was if his girl was doing okay.

Over coffee one morning, she quietly shared she knew exactly the first thing she was going to do when she got to heaven.  I’m going to rock my baby. I have never forgotten the moment. Many years had passed between her baby passing and our coffee time, but a momma’s heart never forgets. I believe God knows her heart’s desire too, and I am hoping when she gets there, he will have the rocking chair ready.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.  2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG)

Is there someone in your life today to whom you can offer comfort? Can your story offer hope and healing to another? Grandma Ruth may never know how much her story, shared over a coffee (and a Coke) and some Hardee’s biscuits changed my life forever.  While she was most definitely Bob’s girl, more importantly she is God’s! When to the rest of the world ours is a quiet – often not spoken – hurt, God’s girl, Ruth, boldly shared her heart which gave life-changing, life-breathing hope to mine. Instead of a rocking chair, I think I am going to ask God to have the front porch swing ready when I arrive . . . with toes dangling my babies and Reed and I will swing away.

Sitting with her dear friend, V, Grandma Ruth on the right at her surprise party at our church!

Sitting with her dear friend, V, Grandma Ruth on the right at her surprise party at our church!

Note: October is National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Month.  If you have experienced the same pain my “Grandma” and I have, please know our hearts are with yours!

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