Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Birthdays, Gertrude Stein, and Nelle Sampson

Melinda Ruth with mom, dad, and Fritze in Nelle and Ruth's backyard.

Fifty-seven years ago today, I was named after Ruth Bobe - a woman who was never a biological mother but who cared for countless children at work as a teacher and at home as a friend.  My father and his siblings were six of the lucky recipients of her care, nurturing, and guidance.  She lived her life with a maiden aunt named Nelle Sampson who pitched in to help my grandmother,  Alberta Wyant, with her often times wild brood.  In every sense of the word, Ruth and Nelle were as much parents to my dad as his mom and dad were.  I doubt that my grandmother ever heard the quote, "it takes a village," but she lived it when it came to raising her children.   She would probably be surprised that today's world ever doubted it's truth.

When I was in my twenties, Nelle was well into her late eighties/early nineties and one afternoon when we were talking, I asked her how it felt to be her age.  I have never forgotten her exact words.  I can see her in my mind and hear her wobbly and thin voice as she said, "Oh I shock myself everyday when I look in the mirror.  I look in the mirror and I see this old wrinkled face and I ask the mirror who she is.  Inside, I still feel like I'm a teenage girl tending to my little flock of ducks."  Nelle then proceeded to go off topic and tell me about each of her ducks, what they were named and about how she cared for them. 

I think I've never forgotten Nelle's story because like Nelle, birthdays don't seem to extinguish the younger version of myself.  I feel the same, but I don't feel the same; it's a very complex feeling.  And yet occasionally when I look in the mirror, I have a little shock wave, nothing yet to the extent that Nelle was describing, but I know that if I'm blessed with years, that major earthquake shock in the mirror will come.  

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have collected quotes for years and I have several that I love from Gertrude Stein.  Gertrude Stein and Nelle Sampson were both born in the late 19th century.  Their lifestyles couldn't have been lived any farther apart; yet there is one truth they had in common.  Gertrude Stein said very simply, "We are always the same age inside." Nelle knew this too and she passed it on to me. 

Today I'm thankful for the wisdom of the women who came before me and for the blessings I've experienced so far.  As a young girl, I had a bucket list . . . before it was called a bucket list, but at this age it seems more like a blessings list. 

I've been blessed to find the love of my life and kiss him under the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the far away places I dreamed about from Vincennes, Indiana . . .

I dreamed of being a mother . . . . .

Richard Wyant, Brittany, Melinda with twins Ashli & Ty, Cousin Shane Knoy

 . . .and then when I became one, I begged God to let me live long enough to see them into adulthood . . .

Brittany Chenault, Tyson Wyant & Ashli Jansen

If my bucket only held these blessings, it would be enough.  But I've also been blessed enough to have learned to make music . . .

My first musical instrument - a Micky Mouse Club guitar

 . . . and then taught my children to sing . . .

Ashi, Cousin Mandy, and Brittany doing one of their "shows."

play . . .

Ty and Papaw playing marbles.

 . . . and I've shown them how to dance and celebrate with family.

The Wyants:  Terri, Cindy, Michelle, Melinda, Mother of the Bride - Lisa Wyant Arbaugh, and Lisa Wyant

I've made the most of my education . . .

Graduation from Anderson University with little brother, Andy

. . . traveled to almost everyplace I dreamed of as a little girl . . .


. . . and shared the excitement of those new worlds with my grandkids . . .

Logan & Lindsey reenacting the paprikash scene from When Harry Met Sally at the Met in NYC

What blessings will this year's ride on the Ferris wheel bring? 

Coney Island

Thanks for the blessings you have brought me so far in my life!  God is so good.

"Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." 
 ~Mark Twain


  1. Aww cute blog mom :) I'm thankful for you! I like the Mark Twain quote too. It is either very true, or he was really old when he said it and trying to make himself feel better. :P

  2. Very sweet, honey. Thanks for letting me be YHFL.
    Love, YHFL gj