Truly Ruth, Truly “Grandma” to an Entire Town

Jane Ebbing

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2: 9

(note from Rose Hunter: this is my Aunt Jane, writing about my Grandma, Katie Ruth (Heisler) Miner, and I can say a true Amen to all Jane shares. I follow Aunt Jane’s story with my own story. Ruth raised a house full of children through the Great Depression. She was a Christ-like example to all her children and grandchildren, and to the whole town! So loved was Ruth that she rode in a convertible as Grand Marshall of the town parade in the 1990’s.)

My mother always wore an apron, except for when she went to church or visited relatives or friends. Her apron (which she made herself, by the way) protected her everyday dresses, which she called her “house dresses” as opposed to her going to church dresses. The apron could be used as an emergency dust cloth and could quickly be removed if the preacher came calling. The apron could be, and was, used as a container for freshly picked green beans or vine ripened juicy red tomatoes or other garden produce from her Indiana back yard, or apples from the big old tree in the back yard that would later be turned into the yummiest Dutch apple pie you could ever imagine!

Mom used to bake pies for people besides family. Somehow she would slide the entire pie out of the pie pan onto another plate without having it fall to pieces. Can you imagine even trying that? Yikes! If it fell apart, it was a family pie. If it stayed together, it went to whoever who was paying her. Family got the yummy rejects. She baked every Saturday, usually pies, and I think she usually made six of them. By Sunday night, the pie was gone! I don’t know how many kids were at home then, probably six children, at least.

Her cookies were the best, made with lots of love, the not-so-secret ingredient. Mom had a cookie jar that was always full – and the kids in her neighborhood knew it. If they had a taste for something sweet, and their own mommas said “No, you’ll spoil your dinner,” well, Grandma Miner (or Grandma Ruth) NEVER said no. Actually, I believe some of the neighborhood moms occasionally sampled this always full, never empty cookie jar. But don’t tell the kids!

Having raised ten children of her own, Mom was always in demand for babysitting in my hometown, especially on Friday nights during high school basketball season. They don’t call it Hoosier Hysteria for no good reason. Parents fought over who could get “Grandma Miner” to watch their children while they went to the games. I think the coach’s wife was the winner, having made some sort of “deal” with Mom.

Mom loved to sing – and whistle! She truly whistled while she worked, mainly hymns or gospel songs. She knew them all. She and my Dad used to sing duets at church. I guess my Dad had some friends in high places, because he and Mom were invited to sing for a church service at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. This homeless shelter was founded in 1877 and is said to be the oldest continuously operating rescue mission in the United States. Mom was never nervous about singing in public, but she said she almost fainted when she learned, after the fact, that the entire church service, including my folks’ duet, had been broadcast live on one of the Chicago radio stations!

Mom truly loved Jesus.  An old song is running through my head right now: “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love.”  That was my mom. Everyone she knew, knew she was a Christian by the love she showed her family, neighbors  and friends.

Like Mother, Like Daughter: Helen, Ruth’s Daughter

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

She made doll clothes for my dolls out of old socks. She made my clothes. She tended her garden and canned the good vegetables from it and made jelly from the berries. She cut rhubarb stalks for me and let me dip the raw ends into a tiny cup of sugar for a treat to eat. She cut the Betsy McCall paper dolls and clothes out of McCall’s Magazine every month, glued the dolls on cardboard, and gave me a shoebox to keep these treasures in. She read me Bible stories and the stories in my Sunday School papers each week. She cleaned and bandaged my scrapes. She knelt by my bedside and prayed with me. She taught me to sew, knit, and crochet. Helen, my mother, was a loving reflection of her own loving, godly mother Ruth.

She sewed for neighbors, too, and did alterations for friends and neighbors. Everyone loved her brownies, cookies, and pies. Part of the Women’s Ministry at our church, Mom had a heart for missions and helping others and loved to work at the church rummage sales and sing in the choir.

She loved taking care of her grandchildren and saw it as joy, not duty. My two sons still tell stories of Grandma making them lunch and playing with them when I needed her babysitting skills. But where I truly saw my mother’s servant, loving, Christ-like heart was when my father developed Alzheimer’s and, rather than put him in a nursing home, my mother cared for Dad in their small mobile home so he wouldn’t be further confused by living in a strange place.

It wasn’t easy for her physically, mentally or emotionally. My father was very intelligent, an engineer, who built a wonderful cabin for our family, built an apartment at the back of our house for his mother to live in, led the remodeling crew at our church, and loved his wife and family. He was kind and generous and fun, building a telescope out of a stove pipe so we could watch the moon, planets and stars. When Dad took the telescope off the mount, he’d put a towel on the mount and spin me around atop it. To watch Dad’s brain, memories, and abilities slip away was more than hard for my mother; it was agonizing.

Yet she took care of Dad, never spoke to him like he was the disease ravaging his brain but always as her beloved husband and friend. Dad could still tinker in his shop out on their porch. The only time she did put Dad in the care of others was when she’d get groceries, dropping Dad off at an adult day-care sponsored by the local hospital. She knew that interaction with others was good for him. She helped him bathe. When Dad became incontinent, Mom changed his Depends and never complained, even when he had an accident once as she was changing him. One day Dad fell on top of her as Mom was helping him dress, and because she had severe osteoporosis, we reared for her own health and, as gently as we could, encouraged Mom to put Dad in a care facility. She reluctantly did, but I knew it broke her heart.

After Dad passed away, my mother would get up in the morning, walk into the hallway, and kiss the photo of her and Dad hanging on the wall. She told me she’d ask, ”Jesus, why am I still here?” Mom lived 14 years longer, and I knew she never lost her love for my father and looked longingly toward the day they’d be reunited in Heaven. One thing I know for certain: they ARE together again, rejoicing in their Savior Jesus and most certainly helping out somehow in whatever happens in Heaven. What a legacy of faith and faithful living they left us and everyone who knew them!

PRAYER STARTER

Oh, my Creator and Father God, help me to live a life of loving, serving, and joyfully, generously giving myself, my time, my talents, my resources. Jesus, your life is my true example, so teach me to love as you love, give as you give, serve as you serve, pray as you pray, and ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________and make me your daughter of strength, dignity, and love!

Father God, you love me and all your children like a good parent. I know the world tends to look down on women who are “just mothers,” but there is nothing just a…,”minimal, devaluing, or unworthy about being a mother, grandmother, sister, or aunt. Help me respect other women, working outside the home or not, and help me value others for their hearts and who they are to YOU! I lift up ________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Bless them Lord, in Jesus’ Name, amen!

(Ruth, Bramwell, and the surviving nine of their ten children.  Jane is on Ruth’s left. My mother, Helen, is standing behind Jane.)

Helen, Bonnie, and Ruth Miner

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