Mama Rut

We’ve had some prep time for this.  We knew it was coming.  It is still a blow.   It still hurts.   It’s still hard to be far away.   Bonnie’s mom/Pamela Rutledge/ Ms. Rutledge/Mama Rut/Nona died peacefully yesterday.  Her family surrounded her as she became free of her body that pained her for so long.  She is now at rest.  

Mama Rut was my best friend’s mom.  She embodied so many of the qualities I aspire to in life.  She may be the kindest person I’ve ever met.   From the time I’ve known her when I was in my awkward early teen years through adulthood, she treated me as if I was one of her own.   She made me feel welcome and a part of her family.   After my wedding, she secretly went and scooped up the sand that Warren and I stood upon.  She put it in a jar with the dried flowers from the day, and presented us with the most thoughtful gift we could imagine.    She always thought of others’ before herself. I don’t know many people who are truly selfless, but she was one.   She cared for her family above all else. 

I have many happy memories with Mama Rut.  When we were young she made us banana pancakes and pineapple upside down cake at every sleepover.   She was amazing in the kitchen.  Every time I walked into her house it smelled delicious!  She made us chocolate fondue on snowy days and always made sure we were fed and loved.  There was absolutely an abundance of love in the warm Rutledge house.  I’ll always remember her telling me in her sweet, Southern voice that the way to any man’s heart was through his tummy.  One day when she was frying onions in butter, she called me over to her and whispered a secret to me.  “You know Kate, if you want to make your man think you’ve been working all day in the kitchen for him, just chop up some onions and throw them in a pan with some butter.  It will smell so nice, he’ll never know it took you minutes!”  Then she laughed with her beautiful, infectious laugh.   I cannot fry onions without thinking of that moment.  

In our last email correspondence, when I knew she was very sick, she addressed it “My beloved Kate,” and signed it, “your second ‘mom’, Mama Rut”.   She told me how lucky she was to love me and how happy Bonnie and I have each other as sisters.  I cannot even believe she felt lucky…I was the lucky one- we all were for having had her in our lives.  I now can only hope for peace for her family left behind.  I know because of her, they are strong.  They will miss her terribly, but they will be ok- because she lives in them.   Bonnie has been a beacon of strength, openness, and love.  I’ve learned more than words can say watching her care for her mother with dignity and compassion.   I feel honored to be a part of it, even from afar.

Mama Rut’s last words to my girlfriends were, “You girls keep dancing and take care of each other.”

That’s what we will do.   Enjoy life and take care of others.   Words to live by.  Thank you Mama Rut. 


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