Ruby -- tough and tender...

It was a Sunday afternoon when Ruby and I first met. Ruby had worked the graveyard shift at her convenience store job the night before so she couldn’t have had much sleep.  I’m sure she would have rather been sitting at home in her pajamas enjoying a rare day off with her six children.  But instead she was all dressed up in a pretty green dress showing up at a restaurant in old town Scottsdale to meet and greet people.  Why?  Because she cares and because she’s a survivor.

One of Ruby’s purposes in life is to help raise awareness and to put an end to the crimes and abuse against children in the community she grew up in.

I made arrangements ahead of time to meet Ruby (we had a mutual friend) so I was excited when I saw her enter.  I knew we wouldn’t have long to talk, so I wanted to get started and allow her to go about the important work she came to do.

I watched her as she walked in the room, unassuming and unaware of her beauty and her ability to make everyone around her feel at ease.  You didn’t even notice her tired eyes because her light filled the room.

We were introduced and walked outside to talk alone for a couple minutes.  I instantly felt a connection with Ruby.  Part of it was her Utah accent.  If you’re not from Utah, you may not know they have an accent, but once you’ve been away for a while you notice it instantly.  Technically, Ruby’s not from Utah, but she lived on the Arizona/Utah border for many years which is close enough to have the accent.

The other connection I felt with her was our religious upbringing.  Her FLDS roots, though very different from the LDS belief I grew up in, had some basic similarities.  So when she’d mention a term or phrase that she felt she needed to explain, I assured her I knew what she was talking about.

Ruby shared her story with me and allowed me to retell it in ‘The Path That Beckons’.  I was so impressed with how brutally honest and open she was about things that for me, werehard to hear.  Many times I had to fight back tears, and resist the urge to reach across the table and just hug her.  I couldn’t believe the courage she exhibited over and over in her life.

The other quality that amazed me was her sweet spirit.  I wondered how a person could endure so much yet still have an open loving heart.  Her eyes sparkled when she talked about her kids.  Then they got teary as she spoke of her step-father (who she loved and believed cared for her).  He passed away after she left the area, and wasn’t able to go back for the funeral. 

As we finished, and got up to say our good-byes, she gave me one of the best hugs I’ve ever had.  I’m a hugger, for sure, but I usually hold an embrace for what I believe is the appropriate amount of time, and then let go.  Ruby’s amount of time is much longer than what I was used to.  She REALLY hugs.  And you feel it.

It doesn’t matter how many times you see Ruby, you know you’re going to get a big sincere hug from this precious woman who is a beautiful balance of toughness and tenderness.