dale

My “aunt” Ruby (R.I.P.) lived to be 95. Her sister (my departed mother-in-law) lived to be 100. Talk about the longevity gene blooming. I hope these strong genes are prevalent in my children. 

Aunt Ruby was one of those characters that the whole community will remember for a long time. She was a spunky spitfire who would tackle just about anything despite her aging bones. 

She was pro-woman before women’s lib took roots. She was a woman to be reckoned with. If you didn’t take her seriously, you were seriously in trouble.

Aunt Ruby thumbed her nose at growing old. There were some things that she just didn’t acknowledge and infirmity was one of them. 

She had been a widow for 25 years and lived alone until her death. She did love her independence. This was to the chagrin of both her sons, one a criminal attorney and the other a heart surgeon. They could have given her daily household help, moved her in with them, any number of options that would have made her life a lot easier. BUT N-O-O! Didn’t suit Miss Ruby’s lifestyle. 

Uncle Denton and she had made their life in a small town close to Tupelo. They owned and ran a jewelry store until Uncle Denton died. That jewelry store gave them a secure living. They built a beautiful house on a lake with an island and quite a few surrounding acres in which to raise a couple of boys.

I just recently learned that 20 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought it and beat it - mastectomy, chemo, radiation, the whole awful mess. And because of her stubborn independence, nobody knew about it except for very immediate family. 

When Aunt Ruby was coming up on her 93rd birthday, she was working in her front yard pulling up some weeds in her flowerbeds. She pretty much wore herself out and decided she’d better get back in the house before she got overheated. 

She had mistakenly locked the front door. Well, all the neighbors were out to work. Besides, she didn’t want to ask for help. “Never ask for help if you can manage on your own” would have been appropriate for an epitaph. 

She tried all the doors, no luck. She tried all the windows. One window was unlocked, the kitchen window above the sink. 

Well, heck, thought Ruby, I can do this. She pulls a lawn chair up to the window and starts to heist her 93-year-old bones up and over. In the process, she accidentally kicked the chair over and ended up being stuck in the window. About two hours later, a neighbor happened by. All he saw was her butt and legs sticking out the kitchen window. 

He thought she was dead. She was napping. What else could she do?

That neighbor wasn’t very discreet. He helped her down and immediately called her son and told on her. What a ruckus. Everything from, “Mom, what were you thinking?” “Can you not stay out of trouble?” to “Back off, son, I would have eventually gotten out by myself.” To “Well, I’m OK now, so no harm, no foul.” 

This went on for a few days while she planned evil things to do to the neighbor. He wisely kept his distance for a few weeks.

DALE LILLY  is Lifestyles Editor and may be contacted at lifestyles@desototimes.com.

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