Posted by: amyedwards | June 11, 2009

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

I am privileged to have married into a wonderful, loving family.  Part of the backbone to that family is my husband’s great aunt, Ella Ruth.  She is one of the most precious people you will ever meet.  Her personality is priceless, and even at her current age of 94 years old and completely bedridden for the past year, she is full of wit and dry humor.  She loves my children like they are her own grandchildren, although she never married or had children of her own.  She has always lived with her sister, Robbie (who also never married), and together they live next door to my father-in-law and have done so since my husband was a small child.

Just a few years ago, Ella Ruth was still driving herself and Robbie around.  Going out to eat, a weekly trip to Sam’s, a weekly trip to get their hair washed and curled, church each Sunday morning, etc.  But old age has taken a toll on her body, and over the last couple of years she has given us several good scares.  Each time we prepare to say goodbye, she makes a comeback and God allows us to keep her a little bit longer.  Her legs have given out and she has not been out of her bed for any reason now in over a year.  She is on oxygen 24 hours a day for the most part.  But, other than the occasional bad day or high fever disorienting her mind, she is completely coherent and still sharp as a tack.

One thing most anyone could associate Ella Ruth with is her love for food and cooking.  Over the years she has taught me so much about cooking.  When I got a pressure cooker, she was the first person I called.  You may remember that I canned some homemade apple jelly last year.  It was her recipe and she taught me how to do it from her bedside!  If you’ve had my cooking, and it was good, you can probably thank Ella Ruth – especially if it was Southern style:) 

A couple of months ago when my sister-in-law, Melissa and I were visiting with her, she made the comment that she would love to cook for all of us again.  We started talking about some of her favorite dishes and some of our favorites that she used to cook.  Melissa and I decided then that we would give her that opportunity again.  After all, if there’s a will, there’s a way.  So a few weekends ago, we met at Ella Ruth’s house with groceries in tow.  Our surprise menu was pork tenderloin, creamed potatoes, black-eyed peas, fried squash, fried okra and cornbread.   (I said Southern cooking, not healthy cooking!)  Ella Ruth instructed us on how to cook and season the dry beans and she sliced the squash for frying.  Then she taught us how to cook fried squash in the iron skillet.  To my surprise, she doesn’t even bread her squash!  Let’s just say “she butters it”:)  Our intentions were for her to bread the okra for frying, but she was tuckered out and in need of a nap before eating.  The smell of good food filled her sweet little house, and we enjoyed spending another meal together as a family around her table.  She listened to the laughter of loved ones from her bedroom.

Next time, we’re hoping to learn how to make homemade biscuits!  And I’ve even asked her to teach me how to knit if I ever make the time.  What started out as an attempt to do something special for Ella Ruth turned into a bigger blessing for me and Melissa.  It’s true what they say – In giving, you receive!


  1. Oh my goodness! That is soooo sweet!

  2. That is an awesome story! I bet she loved spending the afternoon cooking with you guys. There is nothing better than a home-cooked meal! YUM

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