One Woman’s Journey to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Autumn 2020 — Personal Collections

My first Ruth arrived in childhood

In the small garden where I used to pray with my mother.

Mornings, far from the nearest church, she would tell me

The biblical story of Ruth — her kindness in the face of adversity.

“She loved her other mother, the one we forget,” my mother would say.

For so long I didn’t understand this Ruth of a foreign, desperate place.

Moving alone without a husband, she loved the one who was left — his mother.

And drew a faint new line between herself and a broken world.

There was another Ruth, and in time I became her daughter

Through marriage.

I followed her life with astonishment. How she had raised seven children.

And believed the soldiering of her early years was best described as

A daily routine “that didn’t include much time for me.”

By the time I knew her, she had left her childhood home — the ravines

And arroyos, the javelinas and pinons still beckoning her.

By now only recollections of dreams abandoned far too long.

When Ruth of past and future, teacher and advocate, finally arrived

There was a sense of resurrection, as if she had

Watched other Ruths and defined herself from their ashes.

I listened to her steady voice saying she learned from her own mother

That it was time to decide for herself — whether to let the world win

Without a whimper.

I watched her dispense justice through the only two hands she could trust — her own.

And become, perhaps, the last voice of reason.


I wrote this to honor 3 women named Ruth, who influenced my life, beginning, middle and end.

All of them had lives interwoven with mothers as well as being mothers, and all drew me to them.

Finally, without these women, I would have felt far less the pulse of womanhood and the strong force that sustains an enduring mentorship with my gender. I would have missed their lessons and their love.

Sherrida Woodley is an author in Ea. Washington State. Learn more and connect at .

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