People sometimes ask why I now go by Arden Ruth. It started as a cloaking mechanism, to keep employers and snoops away from my life on the internet. But it’s mainly because I love the name Ruth. I recall growing up how people would laugh when I told them my middle name. “That’s an old lady name,” they would say. Blood would rush to my face, embarrassed, but I still never shied away from it.
Both of my grandmothers are Ruths. By dropping my last name, I never felt that I dishonored my dad’s side but that I honored both by acknowledging the strong women that raised my parents to be the amazing people they are. My maternal grandmother, who I called RuRu, passed away when I was in high school.
My dad’s mom, Ruthie, passed away this morning.
It’s an odd feeling, to lose someone that you haven’t seen in so many years. At first, there was only sadness for my father who just happened to have stayed with me last night. Relief came soon after, as I had been told what she slowly turned into over the past few years, a mere shell of the woman I knew growing up. She hadn’t recognized my father just a month ago, her mind erasing her own son and replacing him with a question mark.
It was time, for sure, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Grief came later when I emailed my boss to let him know. Tears threatened to spill over as I thought back on my memories of her. Images flashed through my mind of riding horses at the farm, eating her homemade pancakes in the morning and enduring the sleepless nights spent next to her as deafening snores escaped her tiny frame.
On the one hand, I’m grateful that I didn’t have to see her at the end, when her deteriorating mind turned her into something I wouldn’t even have recognized. On the other, I’m disappointed in myself for not putting that discomfort aside and making the trip anyways. Maybe she would have remembered me. Maybe she would have smiled at the sight of me. Maybe.
I could drown in an ocean of maybes.
No. For now, I’ll just remember her. I’ll remember her when I see horses. I’ll try (and fail) to make the pancakes I always craved for weeks after visiting her. And when I hear my dad’s snores seeping through the walls at night, I’ll smile instead of the usual groan, because I know exactly where he got that from. Most importantly, I’ll wear the name Ruth with pride and hope that one day I can be half the woman, mother and grandmother that she was to this world.