Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Grandma's New York Trip

Reading Ruth Harmon Brubaker’s travel journal about her trip to New York gives some insight into her personality.  The excitement she put on the page as she travels by train from Idaho to New York reveals new aspects of her personality.  She has been described as patient and loving, the journal shows an adventurous side of her life, an excitement to experience more of life.
“We are in Erie, New York & it’s an immense industrial city—Bethlehem steel plants on one side of the landscape—great cement plants, etc., etc.—we’ve come thru miles of it,” she wrote.  “We’ve followed along the shore all morning.  Boats, lovely one by the 1000s just below us.  Yesterday I saw a real old Missouri steamer—3 decker but no way to take a picture of it.” 

Grandma shows an interest in other travelers.  She visits with everyone, she trades magazines with nuns going to Chicago.  She engages a college student on her way home from North Eastern University to Niagara Falls. In addition to her new student friend she strikes up new conversations with interesting observations with others seated around her.
“A man looks like a second Wallace Berry sits in from of me and is going to his brother’s golden wedding,” she wrote.  “He’s a grand person and had 11 sons and nephews in the war—all came back safe but one nephew.  Every few minutes he says ‘I wish Mama was along but she ain’t so well—but she made me come anyhow.’  Well its noon and the little girl got off & her folks just met her, they came to our window to tell us (me and the man) goodbye.  Swell, common friendly people.” 

The pages of Grandma’s travel journal reveal a very intelligent woman, very observant and excited with every new adventure that comes her way.  I don’t think anything really surprises her.  Grandma marvels at the immensity of life.  Early in her journey she notes the speed of the train.  “We are sure traveling fast—will cross the whole state of Nebr. in the nite.”   She is amazed, and marvels at the wonders she encounters in her travels.  But I don’t think she is surprised.

Reading her journal shows an interesting side of her personality.  Grandma is well educated, well read, and very intelligent.  She is patient and loving.  She is truly a fascinating woman with an array of gifts and talents.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Grandma Was A Catholic

As I investigate Ruth Harman, questions that continue to arise include: what she thought and how she felt. An important question: how did she develop such a strong Catholic faith?  Raised a Methodist; her father a minister, yet the entire family remembers her as deeply faithful to the Catholic Church.  It must have been difficult to move away from the faith of her family and accept Catholicism.  An important question if we want to fully appreciate Grandma and her life: How did she reach such faith in the Catholic Church? 

It should also be noted that her faith didn’t go unrewarded and her faith inspired others.  Mary Jane Hislop (Mom) attributes one specific miracle to Grandma’s faith:  When just a few months old Micki, my older sister, suffered from a blockage.  Her stomach became blocked or her intestine was twisted, or something.  The doctors wanted to operate.  Micki hadn’t been baptized yet.  Doctors gave her low odds of survival. Grandma insisted that a Catholic priest come into the hospital and baptize Micki before the surgery.  Sometime between the priest coming in and the scheduled surgery the blockage healed itself.  Mom knew divine intervention healed her baby through Grandma’s intervention. 

Grandma’s strong Catholic faith included the education of her children.  When the family could afford the tuition, each of Grandma’s children went to private Catholic schools.  The apocryphal story concerns Uncle Pat, who was expelled from the Catholic School by the nuns because he kept spitting on the floor.  This same son later studied for the priesthood. 

At her funeral, Dad proudly noted, three priests participated in Grandma's funeral mass.

Obviously, Grandma Ruth Harman Brubaker was very Catholic.  She came from a Methodist family and married into a Catholic family.  How did she arrive at her faith?  Why did she hold such a strong faith?  These are interesting questions with no easy answers.