That's what we called her. She was my Beehive (Young Woman) advisor from church when I was 12-13. But then even when I moved up to Mia Maids and Laurels and she wasn't the actual advisor over me anymore, she continued to be a huge influence in my life. Loads of fun and even irreverent at times, she also didn't shy away from telling me off if she thought I deserved it, but mostly I remember her as completely and unswervingly stalwart in her faith in her beliefs and her testimony of the gospel.
Yesterday my sister Melissa and I sang at the missionary farewell of Ruth's youngest son Nathan back in our old Taylorsville 'hood. After the meeting concluded I went over to give Ruthie Mae a hug and tell her how much I love her. She asked me if I was coming over to the house and when I hesitated making excuses about time and family and choir practice, she insisted. "Oh come on...it's only 12:15. You have to come by and at least have a 'Ruthie brownie.' Besides, then you can give me a ride home."
She instructed me to park my car in the parking lot across the street from her house...insisting that I park in the handicap spot. "But I'm not handicapped!" I said. "Oh...who cares. Maybe I am." she retorted. Never one to disagree with Ruth, I complied.
We walked into the house where Ruth started giving orders to her married daughters (who I used to babysit almost weekly when they were babies and I was a teenager) and the next thing I knew, I was spreading tablecloths on the tables in the back yard and bringing out platters of food.
And as I did, I had a whole lot of memories running through my head....
*That backyard that we were prepping for a missionary farewell celebration lunch? That same backyard was where Ruth hosted my bridal shower some 20 years ago.
*I remember the time when I had a slumber party for one of my teenaged birthdays. We decided it would be a great idea to to toilet paper Ruth's house in the middle of the night. My mom drove us over, not liking the idea of us walking the neighborhood in the dark. We commenced toilet papering only to have Ruth wake up and catch us in the act. She came outside and rather than chastise us, instead chatted with my mom while we finished our job. And then the next morning we awoke to Ruth sprinkling water on our faces and singing some sort of Broadway wake-up song....something along the lines of "Good Morning" from Singing in the Rain, or "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from Oklahoma. And then she dragged us back to her house to clean up the mess. Chances are extremely good that even if she hadn't caught us the night before, she would've known exactly who had done the deed.
*When I went to Lake Powell with a boy when I was 16 and my best friend was so sad because she had a crush on him and felt that I was more or less stealing him from her, Ruth pulled me aside and gave me a talking to. And when I felt that her condemnation was unfair and tried to defend myself, Ruth sighed, gave me a hug and said, "Oh honey, I know. It's just that I had something similar to this happen to me when I was young and I can understand the pain. Just be careful and sensitive, okay?"
*One year at girls camp we were deluged with rain and confined to our tents Concerned about leaking, Ruth went out in the pouring rain with a shovel and proceeded to dig trenches all around each of our tents, singing at the top of her lungs as she went along.
*She came to my baby shower when I was hugely pregnant with Rebekah. And then a few months later gave Rebekah her first lick of a lollipop...from her mouth straight to Rebekah's. Bryan was a little surprised but I just laughed. It was so classically Ruthie Mae.
The years have passed and I don't see Ruth all that often...usually only running into her at funerals of Taylorsville ward members. And when I do see her, we try frantically to fill each other in on goings-on. She tells me of her kids and grandchildren, asks me to pray for them when they struggle. Which I do. We are friends on Facebook, even if Ruth doesn't spend too much time there. But despite the long stretches in-between chats and no matter how old I get, she will always and forever be MY Beehive advisor.