Ruby Florence Harrison McLetchie Hunker would have been 100 years old today. To be honest, I didn't realize that until just this second (and okay, I did the math on my phone, LOL). Wow. Kinda makes me misty-eyed when I think about it. I think every kid thinks their grandma is special, and okay, let's face it, pretty much every grandma is. I mean, the name says it all; it has "grand" in the title. I feel so fortunate to have had her for so many years. It's funny, she's been gone almost longer than she was in my life (she died when I was 24), but there isn't a day that passes that I don't think of her, or remember something she said, did, or joked about. She just made me happy (although in this photo I look a little confused).
My grandmother was a woman ahead of her time. As the middle daughter of three girls, her home life growing up, from what I understand, wasn't the most stable. Her parents separated during a time it simply wasn't done and there was a rather contentious relationship with her mother. She had her children at an early age, as was the norm in those days, and from what I've heard, had a very happy marriage with my grandfather (an immigrant from England who had a plethora of health issues going back to when he had Polio as a child). She loved life. She lived life. She had...what's that word? Oh, yeah. Spunk. Oh, but she had spunk to spare.
That's not to say she didn't have her trials and obstacles (she survived two husbands, one of whom died on New Year's Day), but I don't remember her ever letting it get her down for long. I think maybe that's what I remember most: how positive she always seemed. She was the fun-loving grandma, the one who would get on the floor and play with me, who would read to me or take me to the bookstore. Every Easter she'd buy me my Easter dress and crocheted a poncho to match. She was a wiz at anything that required a needle: sewing, crocheting, knitting, needlepoint, tatting...alas, that talent skipped me entirely and I'm a little bummed I didn't pay more attention, but at least I have photos to remind me.
There are people who we are blessed to be surrounded by. As I grew older and my grandmother became my second parent, there were growing pains for both of us. But I wouldn't trade those years with her for the world. Not even when her health declined and I was forced to realize she wouldn't live forever. When my uncle, her oldest child passed away unexpectedly at the age of 60, I saw her change. I saw the light dim in her eyes as she realized "her baby" was gone. Two months later, almost to the day, so was she. As strong as she was, grief finally took its toll. My mother and I often joke (now at least) that she's enjoying whatever comes after this life with both her husbands and my uncle, no doubt kicking up her heels, smoking up a storm, a Rob Roy in one hand, and laughter in her voice. She had a great laugh. And a wicked sense of humor.
In times of trouble and crisis, so many of us ask what would so-and-so do, but for me, I always ask myself, what would my grandmother do? She always had the answers and those answers were always tempered with kindness and gentility. She was, to put it simply, a very nice woman.
To this day when my cousins and I reminisce about the times we all shared, the memories always come with a laugh and a smile--just as she would have added to the conversation. I remember the excitement I felt knowing grandma was coming for the weekend, or that she came with us on my first trip to Disneyland; that she took me again, along with my cousin Susie, a few years later (below. I'm the one on the left in case you couldn't tell, LOL). She taught me so many things, but most importantly, she taught me to enjoy life, to do what I loved to do (tell stories), and to never let anyone tell me I couldn't do something for whatever reason (like because I was a girl...grrrrr), because she always believed I could. When your grandmother has faith in you, there's nothing you can't achieve.
So happy birthday, Grandma. Thank you for being such a powerful guiding force in my life; for being that angel on my shoulder willing to tap away when I'm headed down the wrong path. I know you're there--I can hear you laughing. I miss you every day. Hug grandpa for me and Uncle Donny and know I'm celebrating you today as if you were here. Cheers! *clinks glass*
USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J. Stewart can't remember a time she didn't have a book in her hands or a story in her head. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family-centric romances with happily ever afters for the independent heroines she writes for both Harlequin and Berkley. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Sherlock addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family and tolerates an overly affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it's Snickers who tolerates her). Her latest release from Heartwarming is MAKE ME A MATCH, a Valentine's anthology with fellow HW authors Cari Lynn Webb and Melinda Curtis. Visit her online at www.authorannastewart.com.