Friday, October 1, 2010

Grandma Ruth

© J. D. Webb 2010 all rights reserved

One of the absolute joys of being an author is the opportunity to bring back a loved one who has passed on. Grandma Ruth is one of those characters. She’s a smart wisecracking, eighty-two-year-old who happens to be having illicit sex with a male inmate, as she calls them, of the Sweet Bliss Assisted living facility.

I patterned her after my maternal grandmother who passed away in 1987. I still miss her and I delighted in placing her in a prominent role in a short story called Credible Witness. Now, I think the real Grandma Ruth would probably have smacked me for even thinking she would indulge in unmarried sex, but I believe if she’d had the opportunity, she would have done it. She was at once blunt and kind. Always ready with a comeback or a sharp reprimand where needed.

When I was a youngster, Grandma Ruth lived across the street. She was there providing help when my mom was shuttled off to the hospital, a regular occurrence. I was seldom scared when this happened because Grandma Ruth made me feel everything would work out okay.

The quirky thing about our family was that mom and Grandma Ruth had a running feud going. Sort of like the truce between North and South Korea. They spoke enough to be civil, no deep conversations or obvious friendliness. I don’t remember them ever hugging. But we weren’t a hugging family. To the grandchildren, Grandma Ruth was a saint. That may have been part of the problem. She loved to spoil us. Nothing major such as a bike, or a Red Rider BB gun. I hinted big time for the BB gun. Undoubtedly, my mother would have thrown it in the garbage. She wanted us to keep both eyes.

The majority of spoiling was more like with sugar sandwiches (a piece of white bread slathered with butter then smothered with real sugar) and lemonade, lovingly squeezed. She also put up jams and jellies and was a great cook, something my mom had trouble with. She was often too sick to cook and had never mastered it like Grandma Ruth.

It was wonderful to put her personality into my story. She felt alive again and almost close enough to hug. It also helped get over a bout of what do I write next. So when you’re stuck and have nowhere to go with your writing, insert a favorite remembered character of your own. It’ll definitely pick up your day – and your writing.

About the author: 
After a Fortune 500 company purge eliminated J. D. Webb's position he spent eleven years as a cobbler and boot salesman, considering that a promotion. He had always written, whether short stories, or business documents and reports, but never had the chance to pen a novel. A business downturn left him with the opportunity to become a full-time author. In 2002 he wrote his first novel and has had four books published.
The latest, SMUDGE, released by L & L Dreamspell this July is the story of a small-town paralegal who wipes a smudge off her ATM screen one night and it's blood.

Other books and writings by J. D. Webb:
Shepherd's Pie (Golden Wings Award Winner)
Moon Over Chicago (2008 Eppie finalist)
Her Name Is Mommy (Now Available)
Smudge(available now at http://www.l& )
Stuck In Valhalla (available at Sniplits)


Marta Stephens said...

Welcome back, Dave! I enjoyed your article when I first read it and loved it again now.

Where would we be without life experiences and the wonderful people in our lives to turn into characters?

J D Webb said...

Thanks for letting me ramble once again. I often people who ask if I regret not being published earlier in my life - my life experiences enhance my writing. If I hadn't lived them my writing would be incomplete.
And it often brings back forgotten treasured memories.

s.w. vaughn said...

Your Grandma Ruth sounds like an awesome lady. And I love the way you described her relationship with your mother - like the truce between North and South Korea. That's a fantastic simile.

Thanks for the story! :-)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

JD, it's so nice to hear another author talk about bringing back their beloved grandmother through their work. I did the same thing - only with my father, both grandmothers, and both grandfathers. I lost them all very close together and I was dying without them. Now I can "visit" with them whenever I do a chapter with Maddy Cote', Oscar and Millie Stone, or Sid. ;o)

Thanks so much for this very enjoyable article about your Grandma Ruth. I loved it!

J D Webb said...

Yes, S. W. She was a hoot and I miss her everyday. I'm thankful she had full faculties for 93 years.
Thanks, Aaron. I can still hear the wisdom she shared and the reprimands when I needed them.

Kim Smith said...

Love this post JD. I hope to be one of those Grandma Ruth types one day :)