It was Easter that we sat around the Cox living room reading through G'ma Ruth Cox's journals.
This women was the heart and soul of the Cox family. The year I met my husband she was diagnosed with colon cancer, that eventually spread to her liver.
In November of 2001, we celebrated her 80th birthday. All 5 of her children, 12 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren; which today is at 11 and counting... (that's Rob and I in the white shirts)
Ruth kept a daily journal. It wasn't one of those diary kinds that you poured out your soul to. It was a calender kind. You wrote a few sentences for that particular date.
Ruth wrote everything down.
What I mean when I say everything, I mean the things we over look to be normal, mundane even.
The weather, who she saw that day, who came for dinner, the baby-sitting she did.
Let me tell you, it was far from boring.
Every page was like a treasure, who would be mentioned as her days highlights?
One particular post : Rob stopped by today for a chat. He told me about his new job. He brought Sue with, so good to see her again, she is a nice girl. I am so happy for him.
The job: The one he still has today. The girl, was his college sweetheart. They broke up because of long-distance. everything was genuine for her.
Another post: Babysat for Ryan and Ellie today. They bring such joy to my day. So full of energy, they keep me young.
Katie came today and cooked a nice meal for me, she is such a wonderful cook.
Tonya came and took me shopping, I needed some new Keds.
G'ma Ruth wore Keds! and she liked them white!
She wrote about everything! It wasn't just her daily life; it was a glimpse into her soul.
These were the things that mattered to her.
We only had three years worth of journals, and hungered for the others that were spilt amongst the 5 of them. I can't wait to trade!
It's like getting a second chance to know her.
We weren't sure if Ruth would be able to make it to our wedding, which was in December of 2001. By that time they had started aggressively treating her.
Not only did she make it, she looked incredible. I didn't know then how much this photo would mean to me today.
Or this one.
The writing on the side says:
"This is the only picture we have of Nina with G'ma Ruth...It makes it all the more precious."
Just after this her health declined, we didn't get to see much of her, we should have tried harder, but it felt like everyone wanted a piece of her, if she wasn't busy, she was resting, if she wasn't resting, she was in and out of the hospital.
The truth is, I don't remember Ruth passing, I don't remember the funeral service much. I remember comforting my husband after his speech, but the memory that sticks out is: At the cemetery, after all has been said...you can see just beyond the hill the trucks waiting for family to leave so they can put the body in the ground. Do their job, go home.
It was January.
The sun peaking through the heavy winter clouds.
You could see every one's breath linger in the air.
It was cold.
No one wanted to leave.
Heavy dark wool coats, dark leather gloves, the only color coming from the scarfs some people wore and the flowers...
Our feet betraying us, this is not the place for dress shoes. Snow covered the ground, but had been removed just enough for a walkway.
It was like a stand-off, who could endure the longest.
Slowly people began to go back to their cars, giving in to the cold, the finality.
I stood there, looking at the flowers that covered her casket, Rob's hand in mine.
I could feel him, ready to depart.
I could not stop staring at the flowers, so beautiful in all the gray cold.
I let go of his hand, reached out and plucked a flower out of the arrangement.
I worried that if one of them saw me they'd be angry...I glanced to the cars, nobody was looking they were busy getting into the cars.
I held it tightly in my hand, felt it's fragile petals against my palm. I gave a final prayer, a goodbye kiss.
I don't know why I did that back then, it seemed odd to me, but looking back on it, having read some of her journals; I realize that even then I knew what kind of woman she was.
She loved her family, her friends and she loved her Jesus.
Death wasn't something she feared, because she lived.
She lived and found joy in everyday.
Her journals tell us so. My pause wasn't a wanting her to stay, it was a making a remembrance; Of who this woman was and how she lived and loved.
I have started my own journal. Not here in cyberspace, but on paper. There is something cathartic about taking pen to paper, seeing the handwritten thoughts.
I would encourage you to pick someone in your life, write them a short note. WRITE it, don't email it, text it, facebook message it.
Write it, in your own precious handwriting.
Trust me, in this day and age, it will mean so much more to the one receiving it.