"Ruby Lavender really started here," I told them, "in a little town in Mississippi, at the turn of the century. That's Miss Eula, in the white blouse, standing with her mother and father and little brother." Gasps in the audience!
The stories I heard over and over through the years as I sat on the front porch surrounded by kin became part of my blood, my mythology, my lore. And Ruby Lavender was born from my longing for that place and time. Longing for those people who knew me. Longing for that love, for that wackiness, for that messy glory.
The stories go on, and it is the stories that give us our history, that make us human, that define us. It's the stories, told and lived by those amazing, flawed, daring, loving human beings, that have shaped my life.
How amazing to think that a book I wrote from those stories mixed with my own experience has the potential to touch three-thousand nine-year-olds in a town in North Carolina, all of whom seem to love Miss Eula as much as I did.
And how astonishing to think that I now have those stories to pass on to my new granddaughter, Abbie, whom we welcomed into the world on April first, just before midnight. What stories will she have to tell? What stories about her own grandmother? Grandmothers.
In Love, Ruby Lavender, Miss Eula tells Ruby, over and again, "Life goes on." Yes, it does.
Welcome to the world, Abigail Grace. Congratulations, Jason and Stephanie. And, likewise, congratulations to the kinfolks: to Miss Eula, Nanny, Pa, Dad, Mom, Aunt Beth, and to all you aunts and uncles and cousins and loved ones who are here, as well as all who are long gone away. Our family grows. You are not forgotten.
Through our stories, you will live forever.