Ruth Galloway Gibson
Last night, as Tony told our girls that their Great Grandmother, Mamaw Ruth, had passed away, I held tightly to the littlest Gibson as she babbled and *bonked* my nose. I couldn’t help but think of just how blessed we’ve been to have all these years of Mamaw. How blessed our girls are to have had a Great Grandmother who was so “with it” even at 92. Tony prayed and mentioned that he hoped that our girls would have that same tenacity, stubbornness, work ethic, spunk and never-give-in attitude that Mamaw Ruth had.
That’s EXACTLY what I want, too.
The last we saw Mamaw she remembered some of us, while the little girls had to keep introducing themselves to her. I explained to them each time we visited that it’s like meeting someone for the first time, over and over again. They didn’t mind. We would all sit on Mamaw’s old bed to be as close to her as we could be as she lay in her new bed. Even as tired as she was, even as old as she was, she still held a conversation like she did 25 years ago. It was always a sweet time visiting her. It’s the way we want to remember her.
Let me add, that I adore old people. I LOVE THEM. Especially when they are family. Even MORE when they are family. I just can’t get enough of old people. I loved sitting near her, helping her and talking with her. The one thing she would tell me every single time we were there…
“this place I’m in has a box…I think it’s right around that spot over there (pointing to the hallway by her room)…it’s a box and you put your clothes in it and you know what it does? It WASHES them for you.”
“Really Mamaw?! Oh my that is AMAZING!”
“it really is, but you know when it’s done washing them you put them in the other box and it will DRY THEM. You just push a button and walk away. But, you still have to press them later. If you want to.”
She was really into those washing machine moments. I’m guessing it was a pretty big deal when she was able to purchase one for herself so many years back that she’s still holding on to that moment.
Although she was in her own home all the way up until her death, she’d often refer to it as “this place” when we talked. We brought KFC to her a few months back and as she’s eating, we are chatting. I asked her what else she loves to eat other than chicken and mashed potatoes.
“Well. They have this thing in this place here. It’s called ‘breakfast’? I like to eat that.”
Oh. My. Goodness.
On our last visit, as I said my goodbyes to her (we weren’t supposed to get close to her face because she was extremely contagious at the time, but I just couldn’t NOT kiss her head), she patted my hand and said “you’re a good momma”. All I could do was smile and say “you’re a really good momma, too, Mamaw”.
Man. I’m gonna miss that Ruthie Gibson.
On this same visit, I overheard portions of this conversation Tony had with her as he sat by her bedside with the big girls and I played with Josie just outside the door. She always loved to point out the window next to her bed and talk about the tree in her backyard. Thankfully, Tony wrote down all of what was said on his phone that day so he wouldn’t forget. I’ll just copy and paste it here, because I love the way it’s written.
Ruth Gibson 12.30.17
Her: Oh Tony how are you?
Me: Great, so glad to see you. How are you?
Her: I’m good. Next time I see you I’ll be dancing on this bed. You ready for that?
Me: I sure am.
Her: I’m going to come down and visit with you when I get out of here for at least a week. I won’t be, how do you say it…”a nuisance” will I?
Me: Of course not and you can stay as long as you like.
Her: I have some great people working here to take care of me.
Me: You deserve every bit of that.
Her: The government sent me this new bed and no cost to me.
Me: You deserve it for all the taxes you have paid.
Her: (Smile) That’s right.
Me: What was your favorite job?
Her: Planting that tree right there. I’ve enjoyed watching it grow every year. How is your business? You staying busy? Where all are you working now?
Me: We are. Most of it is in Atlanta now.
Her: You still working hard? How many people do you have now.
Me: Yes, 185.
Her: You have room for one more?
Me: Absolutely. You want to come to work at Gibson?
Her: Yes, I’d like to see how you work everyday. Are you still happy with what you do?
Her: You have good people?
Me: Yes they are the best.
Her: But you have to straighten them out sometimes?
Me: Yes, sometimes.
Her: Well they are employees. You know I had many in my time. I could come help you keep them straight.
Me: Remember bringing me that article when I was 16 about another kid making 40K by cutting grass and stating “You keep working and you’ll make a real business out of this”?
Her: Yes, I sure do. You remember what you said?
Me: Yes I do, I said “no way!” “I’m going to college and make something of myself”
Her: What’s your favorite part of what you do?
Me: Planting trees like that one right there and watching it grow.