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Ruth Williams (May 31, 1927 – February 3, 2020): My grandma was awesome

Brian A. Wilkins
February 10, 2020

Me, Ruth and my little sister Tonya at my high school graduation.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

I was angry and sad for about an hour. Then the photos came out of the box. And I couldn’t help but smile.

Ruth was always smiling and laughing. That’s not embellishment. I was 10 when she and I watched Beverly Hills Cop on HBO together. The scene when Rosewood tried boosting Taggart over the wall made Ruth cry-laugh for like 2-3 minutes.

She cracked up for several minutes at me slipping and falling on ice while wearing those stupid cowboy boots my mom bought me when I was six. But that’s ok. I got back by saying the okra she ate looked gross.

I dropped by Ruth’s house unannounced several times in high school. She would always make me something to eat and provide great conversation. I’d always known Ruth’s birthday to be on June 1 to that point. But she said her birthday might be in May. That got me curious about Jim Crow Dixieland.

Ruth answered my “curious grandson” questions about segregation, lynching, KKK, etc. when she was a kid in 1930s and 1940s South. She told vivid, compelling and sometimes disturbing anecdotes about each topic. Ruth is perhaps the primary reason I became a writer. She was my first interview, my inspiration.

Ruth remembers a world without TVs. She lived the Great Depression, World War II, JFK’s assassination, Nixon’s impeachment, and “the first black President.”

Grand-Grand was my great grandma. Ruth was my awesome grandma. See you when I get there! I love you.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (KJV)

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