Living letters, words left unsaid, and octogenarian friends

Renee Ann Smith —  October 27, 2013 — 4 Comments
Old People

My sweet mom, who went to be with the Lord nine months ago

I recently fell hard for a fictional character: Ruby Redding, the star of Adam Thomas’s novel, Letters from Ruby. Ruby is a feisty octogenarian who ministers to others with her pep talks, her prayers, her piano playing . . . and her pen.
Ruby reminds me of some of the older folks I’ve treasured in my life.
I love how her legacy of wise words influences all those around her.
Here’s how her story goes . . .

When Calvin Harper arrives at Victory, West Virginia’s St. John’s Episcopal Church—St. Jacks-across-the-tracks—he’s a scared 25-year-old with a bad haircut and a brand new seminary degree. He knows little of life. And most of what he knows about God comes from his books. Fortunately, God sends an expert to take Calvin under her wing—80-something Ruby Redding.

In her pearls and cardigan sweater, Ruby may look like she just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but there’s nothing posed about her joyful nature and her deep love for God. Ruby’s faith sort of rubs off on people. All who meet her find themselves changed, including Calvin. 

This novel begins with an older Calvin being prompted to reminisce about his time at St. John’s when he discovers a stash of Ruby’s letters in the midst of moving into a new home . .  .

“Calvin traced the loops and lines of Ruby’s signature. It was graceful and beautiful without being ostentatious. Like its owner, thought Calvin. He ran his finger along the signature a second time. Wishing you all good things, too. He looked at the stacks of letters in his lap and then looked at the living room where all the pictures still needed hanging. ‘They can wait.’

As Calvin pulled out Ruby’s letter, he thought back to those days in Victory. ‘Dear, dear, Ruby,’ he said again. ‘All of them dear to me.’

He took the last sip of lemonade, rocked the chair back on two legs, and waded out into the depths of memory.”

As Calvin recalls his past—his first day when he was almost arrested for breaking into the church, meeting Ruby and her quirky cronies, baptizing babies, sitting by the hospital beds of the folks he’d come to love, filling his plate at church picnics—each chapter of his experiences ends with a letter from Ruby.

What I Liked Best . . .
  • Being treated to Ruby’s story in her own words.
  • Reading about her World War II romances. (Love that time period!)
  • Ruby’s relationship with her husband Whit, a beautiful love story that spans sixty years.
My Life Lesson Takeaway & Favorite Quote . . .

Ruby letter 3abc1a

You think you have all the time in the world to know someone but there’s always something you never said.
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What a blessing when we take the time to share those special words with the people we love before it’s too late.

Since dementia stole so many of my mom’s memories, I often wish she had left a journal or letters behind. And I can’t help but regret the things we left unsaid in our years together. But it comforts me to remember Paul’s words in Corinthians about how we can leave a living legacy in each life we touch. I treasure the legacy my mom implanted in my heart.

You are our letter, written in our hearts, known & read by all. ~II Cor. 3:2~
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letter in our hearts

I recommend this simple, charming story. If you’d like to “meet” Ruby or introduce her to a friend, you can purchase your copy of Letters from Ruby here. ***Many thanks to Adam Thomas and Abingdon Press for providing a copy for me to review.

Thanks for stopping by today, sweet friends!

ruby letters 1About the Author: Adam Thomas was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 2008 at the age of 25, making him one of the first priests from the millennial generation. His unique voice in the faith community emanates from a combination of his youth, honesty, humor, and tech-savvy nature. A self-described nerd, Adam is the author of Digital Disciple. He also writes the blog, belongs to the Christian Century Blogging Community and, and knows everything about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Adam lives in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

You can connect with Adam on his Facebook page, through Twitter, and on YouTube.

This week I’m linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Miscellany Monday, Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Unite @Rich Faith Rising, The Better Mom, Modest Mondays, GraceLaced Mondays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Gratituesdays, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Heart and Home, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Tuesday Muse, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Wise Woman Builds Her House, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Thoughtful Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Desire to Inspire,Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Faithful Friday Blog Hop, Faith-filled Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Aloha Friday Blog Hop, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, TGIF, Friday Company Girl Coffee Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Sunday Collective, and Heart Reflected.



Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

4 responses to Living letters, words left unsaid, and octogenarian friends

  1. What a beautiful post and review. I love the picture of your mom.

  2. This book will be on my must read list. I love these kinds of stories. You would probably enjoy reading The Wedding Letter, and or The Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright.
    Thanks for this awesome review and blessings to you!

  3. Beautiful post! One of my favorite attic “finds” have been old family letters. God bless!

  4. Thanks for sharing about this author. How fascinating!

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