Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A hero's tale for Mother's Day - Heroes who walk among us unknown

The book of Ruth tells the story of how Ruth makes a sacrifice to family. In the process of her selfless decision to leave her own life and land behind and care for her mother-in-law, Ruth is rewarded with a new family. The book of Ruth is a love story—a familial one. The underlying theme to the book of Ruth is the responsibility one has to protect the weak and unprotected. That community is more important than individualism. That love sometimes requires unselfish sacrifice.

Was she happy with the sacrifice she made? The biblical version says so. I don't care about the religion part, I admit; I only want to know how it all turned out in her heart of hearts.

I dial the number that connects me to the ranch-style house in Arlington, Texas, where Ruth Virginia Brent Snellings McCown lives with her husband Frank, along with all the critters who show up on her doorstep for the food she leaves out.

“Mother,” I ask, “Are you happy with your choice? Did you do the right thing?”

When I was a bitty girl, Ruth came into my life. My Ruth reassured three small children, a sister and her brothers, who were about to be scattered like seeds in the wind to other relatives when she said, “I will never leave you.”

You want to hear of heroes? Heroes do the hard thing. Heroes do what needs to be done; even when they are afraid, even when they know their life will forever change—and the change’s results are at that moment unknown, the good or bad or indifferent that comes from their action is a mystery. Yet, they move toward the fear instead of away from it.

Ruth looked at those three small children and she made a decision. She had only just married my father. Her young face smooth and unworried, but her hands were rough and work-steady from the farm fields she worked growing up in Arkansas. Those hands reached out to my brothers and me, touched the tops of our heads, placed a palm there, and steadied the circling fearful thoughts of, “What will happen to us?” Our biological mom gave us to this young bride named Ruth, and said, “Take good care of my babies.”

A hero plunges ahead again and again until the job is done, until the task is complete, until the lost is found, weak is strong—until everyone is safe. That day Ruth met me, little pig-tailed chubby-cheeked girl, she wanted me. She wanted my brothers. Her own mother warned her of taking on another man’s children, for who knew what could happen? I can imagine young Ruth standing wide-eyed, afraid to take on a ready-made family, but with the image of those three children branded behind her eyelids each night before sleep. Her heart beat against her chest with the fury of a thousand stomping feet as she went to her little country church, and down upon thin little knees she asked her God, “Am I doing the right thing?” No matter the answer, Ruth rose to her feet, held out her arms to us, and said, “My home is your home.”

Ruth adopted us. She birthed from her small but strong body two boys to add to our family. She moved from city to city with her five children and my restless father. She went to work each day in clothes she made herself. She stretched a dollar so wide it wrapped around our house and kept it warm in the winter. Her daddy died. She and my father divorced after I had already left home. She lost my brother, born from her own body, to a heart-attack when he was only thirty-two. Her momma died. She almost lost my youngest brother born from her own body to a heart attack. And now, every morning, Ruth, grown older but heart never weaker, gets out of bed and makes the quilts and blankets she gives to charities and families and friends. Every evening, Ruth climbs late into bed after making sure everyone else is taken care of. What does she dream?

I ask her, “What do you dream, Mother?”

She answers, “Sometimes about your brother.” A pause. “I wish I could dream about David every night. But maybe that would be too sad.”

I answer, “Maybe it would be.”

She says, “But I have you all, my children.”

I said, “You never did leave us. No matter what. Thank you, Mom.”

You want to talk of heroes? In the face of fear and warnings and a mysterious as the moon future, my Ruth did what had to be done. Her wild heart beating, her rough hands reaching, her soft green-blue eyes flashing, her mouth saying, “This is my family. We stick together. I am a mother. I am Ruth.”

I ask her, “Are you happy with your choice? Did you do the right thing?”

She answers a firm, “Yes.”

A hero never looks back with regret. A hero moves forward. A hero gives life. A hero gives back a life. A hero never expects the gratitude given, and when it is not given, a hero does not demand it. A hero can live among us and no one will ever know the heroic deed she has done.

Now you know about my Ruth.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom & and to all Mothers Everywhere


Terri Tiffany said...

Well you made me cry. Blessings to your Ruth for being the hero she is.

Carolyn V said...

I cried too. This was just beautiful. <3

rosaria said...

Yes! This was a marvelous tribute to your Ruth and to all the Ruths out there. Beautiful and heart-wrenching.

john bord said...

Quietly the steps move
Doing what is needed
Seldom recognized
No badges or parades
Seeking to care
Blanketing with love

The heroes of our lives are there for us, through pain and joy, unconditional.


Jessica Nelson said...

What a wonderful, lovely mother you had! :-)

CathrynLouis said...

So very beautiful...and I have no tissues in my office today. Ruth is certainly a hero.

Judith Mercado said...

And she gave you a mother lode of inspiration from which to mine your stories. This was a wonderful tribute. She sounds like a treasure of a woman.

Hanny said...

Great post. We should all pray that we have the opportunity to help other human beings in the same way. Only a life lived for others is worth living.

Debra said...

Thank you for sharing your Ruth with us. What a precious tribute.

Anonymous said...

Kathryn you made me cry also. I am not a hero--I am your mother and always will be.

Yes, I made the right decision--one I have never regretted. I feel it was God's plan for all of us. I wanted and needed you as much as you needed me. I was very happy when the three of you decided that I could adopt you. This meant I could never lose you and was legally mine. God blessed me and my life with 5 great kids for which I give thanks--to Him and to you.

I feel very honored by the tribute you have made--I don't feel I need any accolades--I am the winner. I wanted to protect you (and claim you as my own). Thanks for loving me back.

Love you,

Kathryn Magendie said...

Thank y'all for your lovely comments.

And MOM! Hi MOM! Love you -- see all the wonderful comments for you?

My Heroes - Adoptive Moms are Special! BIG MOTHERS DAY SHOUT OUT TO ADOPTIVE MOMS!

Deb Shucka said...

You've made me cry with this beautiful tribute to a mother who is everything we all hope for. The pictures are wonderful. I hope she'll read these words and know her part in the creation of the wonderful woman who wrote them.

Brenda said...

This pulled at my heart-strings and brought tears to my eyes. Bless you (and Ruth)!

Kerry said...

Now I know about Ruth. A true blue mother. Thanks, and you know, it helps me understand your writing, too.

Linda Leschak said...

Wow. This is so powerfully touching and warm and heartfelt. How incredible that Ruth has also commented, touched too by your words, Kat. You're right. Heroes come in so many forms. At the heart of a hero is the absolute knowing of what is right.

Thank you both for sharing a bit of yourselves with the rest of us.
Happy Mother's Day!

Analisa said...

Awesome Kat! Happy Mother's Day.

Lori said...

I finally get a chance to visit you and I am so thankful it was to read this post...Kat this is beyond beautiful...what a beautiful story about your Ruth....she was quite the blessing to you and your brothers but I know that the three of you were just as much a blessing to her. With tears I read this...such a gift to me this night my friend...thank you for sharing this part of your life with us....I really am blessed from visiting you here tonight. Love and hugs to you...oh and Happy Mothers Day to both you and Ruth. XX