When it comes to being a lady it’s hard to find anyone more lady like then my grandmother, her name was Ruth Jones.
Recently, I had the privilege of going to stay with my mom in her new home that she shares with my sister and her husband. I got there later in the day and so one of the very first things that she did was show me my bedroom. As I got ready for bed, she offered me the honor of wearing my grandmother’s robe for the duration of my stay. You’ll see a picture below, it was a gift she had received from her brother, my great Uncle.
My grandmother always dressed so nice, she was pure class, she had a brother that loved taking her shopping, they would frequent Neiman Marcus and it was always so fun to see all the beautiful, expensive clothes that she got to pick out and add to her walk in. On her birthday he would send her extravagant gifts, usually from Neimans, all wrapped in perfect packaging and we would just get so excited for her. It was always a lavish token.
My grandmother was a pastor’s wife, married to a theologian and though they did well my great uncle had a bit more disposable income, one might say, and it was just one of those things that they would do, they would shop. How cute is that? As I put on that robe I looked at myself in the mirror and I noticed that I felt kind of small in my grandma’s robe. She was a bit bigger than me when she wore it, but I felt more small in regards to who I was in this moment not my dress size, more my substance size, in comparison to who she was, so exquisitely, when she passed away, with candy corn hidden in her pockets, love on her lips and grace echoing in her voice. She was a wife, a mother, a philanthropist, she was a missionary and for me, she made the best mashed potatoes the world had ever known, my Grandma Ruthie.
I remember hearing my Grandpa Rufus say every single day, in his bellowing voice, “isn’t she just the most beautiful woman in the whole world?!” and I swear every day that I was with them I heard him say to her how beautiful she was. Maybe he didn’t say it every day but every day I was there I heard him in some way tell her how he admired her radiance, she really was a beauty. She was Mrs. Dr. Rufas Jones.
I began looking around my Mom’s house, sprinkled with keepsakes, I noticed all of these exquisite pieces that belonged to my grandmother and now my mom. My grandma Ruthie raised an exquisite daughter that’s my Mama. She is strong and fierce she is deeply kind but I wouldn’t say she’s sweet, I’m the sweet one. She is strong and brilliant; she could cut you like a knife with her eyes, but still love you so deeply, like no one else I have ever known. I went into my mom’s bathroom and noticed all of her pretty little beauty products. One of them being her bottle of Chanel parfum.
As I stood and mingled, it all really made me think about the ladies that I have in my life. It made me begin to ask the question what makes a woman a “lady” what makes them be distinguished as a “lady”? So I began this quest. I began asking what makes a lady, asking my mom what were the things that daddy appreciated most about her while he was still alive, what made Grandpa so willing to lavish his love on his Ruth that he was never afraid to truly love her. It seemed that it all came down to one thing – trust. “The heart of her husband trusts her.”
I grew up knowing that this one trait is what makes an impeccable woman, a woman that people would say is to be revered. The heart of her husband trusts her. Well, I don’t have a husband and I’m not a wife, but I have a son and I have a daughter and I found myself wanting so much to be that kind of woman. The kind of woman that has a heart that can be trusted. You see my grandmother dedicated her days to my grandfather, that’s what she did and everything she did was to protect him. My mother spent all of her days pursuing her dreams because that’s what my dad wanted, but at the end when he was sick with dementia and she cared for him to the very end, it was her that he longed for and even though he loved all of us so much, she had the name that he would call out. It was Carol he wanted and I believe with all my heart it was because he trusted her the most.
There’s my sister who has a husband that when I look at their relationship, I see these two strong, bullheaded beings that are also so tender, so kind and I see that the trust that he has allows him to relax and resign into her, which is this certain kind of knowing, that he can trust her with his own heart and it’s a beautiful symphony.
So I put that robe on every day that I stayed with my mom and I ran, every day, through these beautiful landscapes of where she lives in California and I soaked it up and wanted so much to be the kind of person, the kind of woman that could teach my children how to be such a trustworthy person that someone would trust me in their own heart. I don’t want them to trust me with their heart, I want them to trust me in their heart. Do you see the difference? It is not easy to trust and in fact I think it’s often times very, very foolish. Is it only found in the binds of marriage, is this the deal breaker, is one only allowed this as a husband that has a wife, to trust her because the husband has this contract and somehow it liberates him?
I hope that’s not the only answer, I hope that the answer is that you have a chance in this world to love maybe one other person and absolutely, your children in a way, in the purest way possible, that this creates trust. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be perfect. It just means that our intention for this other person is always good and we always have their back. It’s the sense of oneness that even in the world that seems to always be out to get us, there would be one person that is loyal, one person that loves us in a way that is out of this world. I know that I want my children to find this in another person, one day. I know that I want them to find this in me, but first, I have to teach them to trust their own heart, to teach them how to be true to themselves and that’s where I am today.
I do not have the incredible privilege of being called a wife by another. In my opinion it is a high honor, not everyone thinks it is, they don’t understand it I don’t think, but it is an honor, but that topic is for another day. Today, I get to just be me, today I get to just learn, today I have no responsibilities to a label that I wear, I just have a responsibility to myself and to my children and to the people that I hold closest to my heart.
I don’t have a robe from Neiman Marcus and my perfume is a combination of essential oils and sweat, but I do want to be a “lady”. I want to learn, I want to be that kind of person that is trustworthy. I have a small handful of people in my life and I want to be the kind of person that is that heart touching well and if I spend the rest of my life pursuing the heart of trust then I think I will have a life well spent, but just for today, I’m going to wear my essential oils and just for today I’m going to wear my squishy soft robe that my daughter bought me for my birthday, but maybe tomorrow I will get a sample of parfum by Coco Chanel.
Both my dad and grandfather were gone a lot. Both of their wife’s let them go and let them be. I guess that’s why they had to trust them, they had to enter in to the deepest parts of their hearts to test this one woman with their livelihood. That takes a certain kind of relationship, it takes a certain kind man.
If there were ever to be a man crazy enough and brave enough to introduce me as his wife I feel like this would be the most essential litmus test. He would have to be able to say “my heart trusts her”. So welcome to my quest, welcome to my heart. I don’t have to worry about any of that today, I don’t have to pass any tests, I have to just be me.
That’s what I saw in my mom and my grandma and that’s what I see my sister do, they are perfect just the way they are and their husbands trust them. I am content just being me. I’m not there yet, and I’m not ready to be a wife again, and that is okay, but the stories and images that I’ve created in my mind I hold so dear I am sure there’s all kinds of dark secrets hidden in the bedroom of marriages everywhere. I’m sure my mom and dad and my grandparents had their secrets – they’d better.
There is something about getting to look at certain things from the outside. You get to appreciate them. You don’t have to desire them, you don’t have to want them, you get to just appreciate them and learn from them and that’s what I’m gonna do. Today I get to just be loved, just because someone chose to love me, and I am so perfectly content because somehow this feels like trust.