I still see her at the piano after dinner, playing hymns from a well-worn hymnal. She passed on her fine musicianship to three of her six children, and did so with humility. Of course, I remain especially grateful to her for producing that sixth child.
As Ruth aged, she took to eating dessert (especially chocolate and ice cream) before dinner, just in case she wouldn't have room for it after a meal. While raising her large family on a pastor's salary, she still made sure there was dessert on the table every night.
She spoke her thoughts freely, the way young children sometimes do. I recall one harrowing trip in heavy traffic as we transported her to the wedding of one of her grandchildren. From the backseat (as we held our breaths hoping the wild drivers would not crash into us) came Ruth's declaration: "Such a nice, relaxing drive, dear."
There was the time I sliced open my index finger on a bottle of fine olive oil, and appeared at her door with a very noticeable gauze-wrapped hand. Ruth asked what I'd done, and I explained the accident. "Wasn't that rather dumb?" she asked. (It was!)
I never once saw Ruth wear anything other than a skirt or dress, and sensible, tie shoes. Her attitude was no-nonsense; outright affection and compliments could be minimal. So I was floored when, right after I'd miscarried a child and felt like a deeply flawed person, she peered at me over her steel-rimmed glasses and said simply, "I love you." I never heard her say such a thing at any other time. In her family, that love was understood without words.
As I remember Ruth this day, I will set out her wedding china for dinner. We rarely use it, but even for the simple meal we will enjoy on this work day, we will give thanks for a great lady as we bow our heads -- and eat dessert first.