Ruth Moses is a well-lit 82-year-old firecracker bursting in energy with no shortages of opinions and stories. She admits that she can’t move around how she used to, “these old bones can’t stand up like they used to,” but, age has undoubtedly not subdue her feisty voice and her spirit. She is one of those people that you know will give aging a complete butt kicking until the end.
I met up with Ruth in her home, a home that I have spent countless of hours over thousands of lifetime visits and should know like the back of my hand but, I don’t. Each visit I notice new nuances that make this place home and see new memories etched in its landscape. Ruth is my grandmother and similar to her home, each time we sit to talk whether it’s this time or the thousands before, her stories continue to deepen my lens of this woman beyond her role as grandmother.
Today her home is quiet on a dreary Sunday morning. Just she and the dog she’s “adopted” from one of her grandsons who now live with her are the only ones shuffling through the corners and rooms. This scene is highly unlikely if you come back in just a few hours — it’s around 7 am — too early for most of my family. With a dozen children and over 40 grand and great-grand children loved on, Ruth’s home is always spilling over in loud talking, laughing, game-night shenanigans and the smells of good eats in the kitchen — though she doesn’t cook nearly as much as she once did.
In all, my grandmother is still best known for 2 things around our family — her biscuits and her sweet potato pies. Growing up, she would cook a huge Southern dinner every Sunday and my most coveted part of the meal was her biscuits. Her hands worked and shaped the biscuit dough in her kitchen pouring her love into each batch for us.
“Their beauty now erupts in the sweet folds of unfamiliar lines;
complex rarity reminds me of the blue violets she tends to in the light of the morning suns.
Deeply indented, they move in parallel paths gathering and crossing at the join;
each wrinkled line carrying her stories to life. Immeasurable. Unconquered.
All connect her to me and make the unfamiliar known.”
– Poem Snippet, “To the Woman with Hands Made for Biscuit Making”
About seven years ago or so, I was jolted into the realities of my grandmother’s age noticing the fragility of her wrinkling skin and wrote this poem to celebrate her hands and the stories they have lived. Each wrinkle does have a story with it that need not be lost. Today, Ruth notices that she is talking and dispelling stories even more than ever and this gives her a giggle. Maybe it’s the comfort of the dawn hour.