The House that Ruth Built

Our Family

By Dawn Onley

Family time is important. The older I get, the more I realize just how important.

The past several weekends I have spent in the presence of family. It’s been truly the highlight of moving back to my hometown. There have been plenty of laughs, great food, time spent reminiscing, talking through life’s challenges and celebrating life’s joys.

Sunday was no different. To celebrate my grandmother’s upcoming 102nd birthday, my cousin, Tracye, suggested that Nana’s granddaughters get together and host a brunch in her honor. So, the six of us, who affectionately call ourselves “Ruth’s Spitfire Granddaughters,” did just that, and had a blast!

Over crab imperial, shrimp and grits, salmon, fried potatoes, egg bake, bacon, fruit and an assortment of desserts, we sat around the same table that for years Nana served soul food (and soulful) Sunday dinners on and we got caught up on life. We shared stories and laughed until our eyes welled with tears.

Just like old times.

We asked Nana’s opinion on things and listened to her sage, Biblical advice.

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Nana reminded us. She should know. She has raised her children this way and they each have a heart of service and of love. Daily, one or more of Nana’s children come to visit her, to check in on her, to make sure she’s fed and well. She trained them up right.

After the brunch was over and I was headed out, Nana held my face between her hands, kissed me on the cheek and thanked me. She said she had a wonderful time hanging with us girls.

On the drive home, I thought about my sister and my cousins, and the women we’ve all become. I thought about how we are all succeeding in our own ways. I thought about Nana’s face, beaming with pride as she ate and listened to the stories of our kids and our lives. I thought about life and how it goes full circle.

These are the moments that mean so much. These moments create memories that we can draw from years from now when we are sad, lonely, confused, or just in need of family time. The key is to create as many of these moments as we can.

We will do that. Ruth’s Spitfires have decided that brunch with Nana will be a regular occurrence. We need to spend more time with her, but we also need each other. We are branches of the same tree and we share the same roots.


Family is important.

Yankee Stadium may be best known as the House that Ruth (Babe) built, but here in my hometown, we are the house that my grandmother Ruth built. We have a sturdy foundation of faith and love, which we will pass down to our children and our children’s children, just as my Nana passed it down to us, through our parents.

A house united will never fall.

Ruth's Spitfire Granddaughters

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Monique says:

    Just beautiful Dawn just like our loving grandmother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. womenwhohope says:

      Thanks Monique.


  2. Jane Brewer says:

    So elegantly written, Dawn. It captures the true spirit of the love, respect and admiration you young ladies have for your grandmother. I am so grateful for all of you. Thanks for honoring my mom in such a way she will never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. womenwhohope says:

      Thanks for your sweet note, Aunt Janie! As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You, Aunt Mary, Uncle Johnny and dad are the apples and Nana is the tree. 🙂


  3. Perfect summary of our lovely afternoon sissy! I’m so thankful to Tracye for suggesting the perfect way to celebrate our grandmother. And I can’t wait to the next spitfire session (smile). Love you all!

    Liked by 1 person

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