What's Bugging Me

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Who Might I Have Been?

I attended a funeral this week. I spoke of Ruth a couple of posts ago. So, when I saw this prompt for Sunday Scribblings, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.

There is usually a person in your life that holds great influence over you - even if it's years down the road before you realize how influential they really were.

The following was not written by me, although I am mentioned as a person who was better because I knew Ruth. Which is so true. This eulogy speaks the exact feelings I have about Ruth. How amazing she was that she touched SO MANY people.


Eulogy for Mrs. Ruth
August 2, 2006

Good morning. My name is M. I’m from Baton Rouge and grew up here at (insert name here) Church. I know that Miss Jones – or Ruth, as most everyone knew her – was many things to us. A dear sister and sister-in-law. A loving aunt. A great aunt who was always there. A charter member, along with Mr. Charlie, of this church. A faithful member of the Altar Society. A beloved Regent of the Catholic Daughters. An unforgettable friend. But I’d like to tell you what she meant to me, as longtime adviser of the (youth group).

I have so many memories in this church, and Miss Jones was a part of just about all of them. We Juniors and Juniorettes used to change out all the Misssalettes in this church, staple-side up, neat as a pin, as Miss Jones made us do. We rode bikes through the parking lot and around the school to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We organized dances and lock-ins and held meetings in what used to be the Parish Family Center. And we met in the parking lot, so we could go to visit female prisoners at St. Gabriel’s, students at Louisiana School for the Deaf, and residents of the (insert name) nursing home. Miss Jones was at the center of it all, herding, along with Miss Barbara and Renee, carloads of squealing, impressionable girls and teen-agers to all these places.

I think I first felt a real connection with Miss Jones soon after I joined Juniors. We were standing right outside of the Parish Family Center and I asked Miss Jones where I could put my money, since I didn’t have a purse or any pockets. She took my money, stuck it in her bra, gave me that smile and said, “It’s safe here – no one will touch it.”

She supervised us on our often weekly activities, letting us laugh and goof off, but reining us in when we had work to do. What she was doing was teaching us the value of service to God and our communities. What we didn’t realize, at the time, was, despite all the fun we had riding bikes, changing Missalettes and washing cars, she was teaching us a lot of life lessons, too. How to plan and carry out a project. How to work on a team. How to diffuse a difficult situation. How to keep your sense of humor and have fun. Most importantly, how to treat others. She helped us grow in confidence, because she – and Fr. Hurst – let us do the leading and coordinating, with guidance from her, if we needed it. Yet, she was a quick to shake her finger at us, if we deserved that, too.

When I think of Miss Jones, what sticks out most is her forthrightness, her fierce independence, her crazy sense of humor and her feistiness. I remember one time when the Juniors worked the phones at the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, one Miss Jones couldn’t chaperone us to because she had recently suffered a heart attack. I called her later, and asked how we had looked on TV. She said, “Well, you looked fine, except for all the gum chewing. Y’all looked like you were chewing on your cud.” To this day, I cannot chew gum in public without felling a little bit self-conscious. Her heart, as you know, would continue weakening over the years, but she hung on a year and half longer than anyone thought possible. One more thing – those high heels. I should be so lucky to be wear them when I’m in my 90s.

A big part of Miss Jones’ legacy, to me, is her commitment to building strong communities of women. For us Juniors and Juniorettes, Miss Jones, Miss Barbara, Renee and all the other moms who helped out created a community where we all felt safe, accepted, and, yet, challenged to do well and do good. I know, for many years, she kept many Catholic Daughters active and involved, as they stuffed envelopes for Louisiana Public Broadcasting and volunteered for many other organizations. A couple of years ago, I asked her what was her secret to getting people to be and stay involved. She said, “I just ask them. And you know what – no one has ever turned me down.” A valuable lesson, indeed.

After I moved away from the area, Miss Jones and I saw each other mostly at church and holiday gatherings at my parent’s home. I thank you, Mom, for maintaining that bond with Miss Jones and for continuing to visit her until the end. Even though she led a long, full life, it’s very difficult to let Miss Jones go. She was my youth group leader, my confirmation sponsor, my mentor, my role model, and my friend. Through all of our many conversations, I learned how much she loved her family – she spoke constantly about each of you and was particularly proud that you worked together as a family and stuck together. As Miss Barbara said to me Monday, we can take comfort in the fact that she’s finally reunited with Mr. Charlie after 14 long years. And that, once again, she can hang out with Fr. Hurst and carry on like they used to do.

Of all the things she gave us, I am most grateful that she took the time to teach dozens of young girls like me, Rosanna, Kay, Melissa, Stephanie, Estelle, Renee, Veronica, Charlotte, Dana, Janet and many others how to be strong women. Women who are compassionate. Women who serve their communities. Women who hold fast to their faith. Women who don’t just stand by. Now grown up, we didn’t realize that by just being around her, we were becoming more like her – and I think that was her plan, all along. Most of all, Miss Jones, you taught me this – that family doesn’t have to be related by blood. They don’t even have to look the least bit alike. Sometimes, family can be found when you have an impressionable girl, a generous woman willing to mold and shape her and a lifetime of love.


Amen. Thank you M, for the beautiful words that spoke straight to my heart. And thanks again to Ruth, and to God, for placing her in my life.

9 Comments:

  • That is lovely - how lucky you were to have Miss Ruth in your life!

    By Blogger Roadchick, at 8/04/2006 6:54 AM  

  • What an incredible person she much have been. I am sorry for your loss!

    By Blogger Chelle Y., at 8/04/2006 8:43 AM  

  • Hello Kay, thanks for stopping by my blog! I am, too, sorry to hear about your loss, Ruth sounds like a very special person to have had in your life and it is wonderful to see that a part of her lives on in you :)

    Take good care, Kerstin

    By Blogger Kerstin, at 8/04/2006 7:15 PM  

  • She must have been an incredible woman to have played such a big role in your life.

    Thankyou for sharing.

    -Aly

    By Anonymous alyndabear, at 8/04/2006 7:16 PM  

  • Lovely tribute to a special woman. Thanks for sharing your story.

    By Blogger paris parfait, at 8/05/2006 11:26 AM  

  • Thanks for the post about Ruth. I too am missing a Ruth. My mom.

    By Blogger Gemma, at 8/06/2006 7:17 AM  

  • What a wonderful eulogy for Ruth. Of course, you all touched her life and heart as well... what might she have become without the love you gave her? She was as blessed to know you as you were to know her.

    By Blogger Autrice DelDrago, at 8/06/2006 11:13 AM  

  • What a beautiful tribute to an inspiring woman. Thank you for sharing. Most of us probably had someone who was at least a bit to us as Ruth was to you and the others refered to. Perhaps your post will help us remember those people this week; and if some of our "Ruth"s are still living, perhaps we may call and thank them.
    Thanks for making us think.

    By Blogger sundaycynce, at 8/06/2006 2:21 PM  

  • It is gorgeous and such an appropriate tribute. Hugs my friend!

    By Blogger ShannonLSU, at 8/07/2006 8:48 AM  

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