A hundredth birthday was a big deal for a lonely old woman who had never had children. When a boy comes to her door, he says he is her great-grandson.
Ruby was about to turn a very important age for a person, but no one cared. She was turning 100, but she didn’t have anyone to celebrate with her.
Ruby was alone, just like she had been for most of her life. Ruby had taken care of herself since she was eight when her father left to fight in the war.
Her mother was weak and cold, and Ruby’s dad pulled her aside. He had said, “Ruby, I’m going to need you to be a big girl.” “You’ll have to be very responsible and take care of mom, alright?”
Ruby had said, “OK, daddy,” which was the end of her childhood. Ruby grew up caring for her mother and four younger brothers and sisters.
She couldn’t wait for her dad to come home so she could be a kid again, but he never did. Ruby was 12 years old when her family discovered her father had died in battle.
Dad would never come back. Mom broke down and screamed and cried so much that she scared the other kids terribly. Mom had to have a shot, so a doctor had to come and give it to her. After that, she was quiet and vague again.
Life sends you a blessing when you least expect it.
The government pension mom got was very small, and she couldn’t work. Ruby stopped going to school and got a job at a nearby store that sold fabric, threads, buttons, and ribbons—anything you’d need to make clothes in those hard times.
Ruby was smart and active, and it didn’t take long for Mrs Dorris, who owned the haberdashery, to see how valuable she was. Mrs Dorris was a war widow-like mom, and she was kind to Ruby in her own way.
She would sometimes give Ruby scraps of the prettiest prints and colourful ribbons so that Ruby could make little shift dresses for herself. Ruby used the fabric a lot on her brothers and sisters and her mom.
Mom had become even less close to us as she aged. Ruby had to watch her wander around the house in her nightgown. So she didn’t go outside like that.
Ruby wanted her four sisters to finish school, so she wouldn’t let them work to help out. She would tell them sternly, “Pay attention to school.” “That’s the most helpful thing you can do for us!”
No one noticed when Ruby turned eighteen. There was no party, no birthday cake, and no gifts. Mrs Dorris either didn’t know or didn’t care; she was a woman without feelings.
Mom was lost in her own world, and Ruby’s sisters, being children, didn’t even know that Ruby had birthdays.
That’s when Ruby and Brad met. He was tall and skinny, and his smile was shy. He went to the shop to buy needles for his mom and stayed to talk to Ruby.
“Stepping out,” as it was called back then, was the first thing they did. They went dancing and to the movies, and when they got back, they parked on Lover’s Lane and kissed. After that, they kissed more.
When Ruby found out she was pregnant, Brad told her he would marry her, they would have a nice house, raise their children, and be very happy. Then Ruby told him about her mother and her two sisters.
Brad, Ruby told him, “I have to take care of them.” “I told my dad I would. But the girls will finish school in a few years, and then it will just be a mom.”
“Your crazy mother and your sisters are coming to live with us?” Brad asked. “Until the end of our days? Is that what you want to say?” After that, Brad kept to himself.
He said he would meet the next day to make wedding plans, but he didn’t kiss Ruby goodbye like he usually did. She didn’t see him again.
She found out that afternoon that he had signed up for the new war in Asia. She was alone and pregnant when he left. She asked herself, “What am I going to do?”
What kind of life could she give the child if she kept it? She had to work all the time to care for her mother and sisters, who were still young. She couldn’t leave the baby with her mother while she worked because it wouldn’t have been safe.
Ruby put her hands on her stomach and cried. She would have to give up the baby. She would give it up for adoption, knowing the person who got it would love and care for it.
Ruby’s hardest moment was when she had to give up her newborn daughter, but she knew she was doing it for the best. “Have fun, my sweet girl,” she whispered. “I love you.”
Ruby didn’t want to remember that far back, but it was the last time she felt young. Ruby never looked at another man after Brad. She knew that no matter what, they would never take on her responsibilities, and she couldn’t ask them to.
Her sisters all finished school and moved out one by one. They got married and moved away, so Ruby was always left to take care of mom. Ruby’s mother died when she was seventy-three.
Ruby cried that day, not just for her mother but also for the bitter waste of a whole life. She was broke. Since she retired, she has yet to make many new friends.
Ruby told herself, “I’ll just wait to die.” “It can’t be too much longer.” Still, it was. Ruby was a strong woman who was in good health. She soon turned 80 and then 90…
The years went by without any celebrations. It didn’t matter. Ruby grew older and older as she sat in her little house. When she turned 99, a social worker came to see her.
She wanted to find out if Ruby could take care of herself. She looked around and was pretty happy with where she was living. She didn’t wish Ruby a happy birthday before she left.
Ruby told herself, “One hundred.” “I’ve seen a century of history on this planet, but I haven’t lived any of it.” When the doorbell rang, she was sitting in her kitchen and thinking about her life.
She got up and walked over to the door. A young man was there, holding a big cake with a big 100 on top. “Hi, Grandma!” he said in a happy voice. “Congratulations!”
Ruby’s chin went down. “Son, you’re in the wrong house…”
He said softly, “No, I don’t.” “Ruby, you’re my great-grandmother. My grandmother always wanted to know who her birth mother was, so when she turned 81, I opened the records.
“No one thought you’d still be alive! If you agree, Gran is waiting for you outside in the car.”
“My daughter?” Ruby spoke up. “She’s… Does she want to meet me? I… I gave her up… I wished for her to be happy…”
The young man said, “She knows that, grandma.” “We also know you’ve been alone for a long time, but now you have a daughter, five grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren!”
Ruby began to cry, so the young man wrapped his arms around her. “It’s fine,” he told her. “Now that we’re here, you’re going to have a great party!”
Ruby’s best day was when she met her daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. “Happy Birthday” was sung as the candles on the cake were lit. Ruby had never heard a more beautiful sound.
She told her daughter, “My life wasn’t a waste after all.” “I had you!”
What does this story teach us?
Duty can be a very heavy load, but there is always a reward in life. Ruby gave up everything, including her child, to keep her promise to her father and take care of her mother.
Life sends you a blessing when you least expect it. Ruby lived alone until she turned 100, and then she was surrounded by family and love for the rest of her life.
Tell your friends about this story. It could make their day and give them ideas.
If you liked this story, you might also like this one about an old woman who is shocked when a woman calls her and says she is the child she thought had died at birth 46 years ago.
This piece was written by a professional and was based on stories from the everyday lives of our readers. Any similarities to real names or places are just a coincidence. All images are only meant to show examples.