I believe in strong women. . . You face the world with a head held high and you carry the universe in your heart. ~C. JoyBell C.
This morning, the full-throated pre-dawn bird chorus mingled with the sound of rainfall as Pixie and I walked through the dark wet woods and back to the house. (you can adjust the volume in the player).
The rain has transformed the garden into a lush paradise ready to burst into a new round of blooms and the woods are beginning to take on hints of their green cloaks of summer.
The leaf buds of the hickory trees unfolded in a matter of days, revealing the remarkable geometry of nature. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full-size image)
The birdsong and the lushness of early May mark a year today since my mother’s passing. Ruth Bach Emberg lived a long life, 97 years (though she was hoping for 100) and accomplished so many things. She was a doer, a fast walker, and a no nonsense woman with a kind heart and a smart creative mind.
To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. ~Maya Angelou
Born in the 1920’s, she grew up in the Great Depression with four older brothers who taught her to drive a car, walk proudly, and stand up for herself.
She was recruited in the early 40’s as a Curtiss-Wright Cadette, one of 900 young American college women who learned 2.5 years of aeronautical engineering in 10 months at universities in order to do technical work on fighter planes for the war effort. I remember visiting the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. with my mother to see the Curtiss-Wright fighter plane that she contributed to in her work. The wartime efforts of the women Cadettes have finally gained recognition in the past few years (see linked article above) as an important precursor to the STEM movement.
Ruth went on to work in technical industries, teach high school math, serve as Dean at a community college, and work as the chief assessor in a rural Pennsylvania county – she was a strong woman in a man’s world.
She raised a family, gardened like a goddess, cooked so well that she wrote a cookbook, and served on many governing boards while running a basket shop and teaching others the art of basket making. Yes, she was a doer.
Living independently in a senior community in her mid-nineties, she was still lively as ever and we frequently went out to eat breakfast at the diner around the corner.
In the gorgeous green days of last May she suddenly fell ill and passed a few days later. When I accompanied her to the hospice, a beautiful place tucked deep in the woods, a large tom turkey was pacing outside her window as if welcoming her. The next evening, Bill and I took our pup Angel to visit her – while Angel ran into her room and kissed her hand, Bill brought his acoustic guitar and sat beside Mom’s bed, quietly improvising beautiful music. Although she couldn’t open her eyes or move much, she smiled when she heard the guitar and I could feel her relax. As we sat in the dark together, the room overflowed with light and love and we sensed her letting go. She passed peacefully the next day and when I left the hospice for the last time, the bird song outside was so beautiful that I stood to listen to the evensong of the day and of her life.
Mom lived a remarkable life, held her head high, and truly carried the universe in her heart.
The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children. ~Elaine Heffner
May each of you have a blessed Mother’s Day and hold your family dear.
All text and photos ©2022 and 1984 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except for historical documents or where noted/attributed.