Many people don’t get family matriarchs. There’s no homestead to pass from generation to generation. There’s no special tea cup or piece of jewelry. There might not even be stories. (Note: The NY Times shared news of the death of a local “star of New York Real Estate” last week and – as it turns out – her fabulous life story was a lie.)
Ruth Edmiston Hunter’s life was not a lie. It was truly special and well-lived. And last Wednesday, January 8 her baptism was made complete.
Other cousins reminded me over the weekend that Ruth was the first of the fourteen grandchildren of Victor Chalmers Edmiston and Jane May Gray – my great-grandparents. This also means that she was the oldest great grandchild of Samuel Edmiston who died at Antietam fighting for the Confederate Army. There was also a Samuel Edmiston from Pennsylvania who fought at Antietam for the Union Army. Every war is simple and every war is complicated in its own way.
Ruth was a woman of valor and an accomplished leader of other women. She graduated from Queens College in Charlotte in the middle of World War II and she served Queens post-graduation in numerous capacities including the Board of Trustees. She was a longtime member of Steele Creek Presbyterian Church and she will join her husband on the grounds there in death. Or at least her body will be there.
I have no idea how heaven works exactly but it moved me to tears to imagine the holy reunion with those who have gone before her. She outlived her parents, of course, but she also outlived her husband, her siblings and each of her ten first cousins. I’m a little jealous that she gets to see them again however God makes that happen.
In addition to her many accomplishments as an adult, Ruth played Fanny in the Mt Ulla Elementary School’s musical presentation of Christmas with the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Included in the cast were her aunt Annie Lou and her cousins John and Sam.
Re-reading the program for that children’s performance, I’m reminded that there was no one left who remembered Ruth as a little girl. There was no one left who was present at her baptism. I wonder what that feels like and I pray she was not lonely being the oldest person in her family tree.
I’m deeply grateful that God shared Ruth with us for almost 99 years.
Here’s to the matriarchs and patriarchs of our lives. Let’s use our days well this week.
Image of Ruth Edmiston Hunter my first cousin, once removed.