Friday, May 25, 2007

Until the Last Moment: A tribute to my Aunt Ruby

It's the times like this I feel so privileged as a photographer to be able to capture the moments that mean the most in life.

I am currently in Varnville, South Carolina, a city of no more than 200 citizens, sitting in my Aunt Ruby's beautiful old historic southern mansion, full of cracks in the walls from the lives that have lived here since 1945, and creaks that serenade each step in the wood floors. I'm sitting in the formal parlor editing pictures I took throughout the day of some of the last moments with our beloved Ruby who is prognosed to only live a few more days. Other family members are gathered in the kitchen sharing their favorites stories of the woman who leaves an incredible legacy behind.

"Boy, if those kitchen walls could talk," Aunt Ruby said to me about an hour ago, letting out a small chuckle in between the pains that haunt her body right now. "The stories that have been exchanged and shared with me by everyone in town. I don't know why my kitchen is so popular."

One reason might be her famous macaroni and cheese. It was the way she used a dash of this and a pink of that made it famous amongst everyone in our family and around the town Varnville. Her daughter in law told me today that they will be passing out the secret recipe at her funeral for everyone to have. It was that famous.

Another reason Ruby's kitchen was so popular was simply because of her love. A mother of seven, including two grown disable sons she has raised their entire lives, she also became a mother to everyone's life she touched. As my mom told me earlier today, "I was always drawn to Aunt Ruby. I've told her things I've never even told my own mother."

No matter what, Ruby was always there with a compassionate heart to serve a good meal and simply listen, without judging, to all who entered her kitchen.

Aunt Ruby was the kind of lady who didn't just go to church on Sundays, she lived and walked her Christian faith every day of her life. She truly was the greatest example of Jesus in my life the way she so selflessly lived to serve others needs before her own. As I told my mom tonight, "I know the reason I was always so drawn to Aunt Ruby was because of how her actions spoke louder than her words."

But tonight, it was her words that had me in tears. My cousin, Carmen, was providing Ruby some pain medication, and I peeked my head inside her room.

"Come here my beauty queen," Ruby said as she extended her feeble arms wide.

I rushed over to give her a big hug knowing it might be one of the last.

In the midst of all her physical pains, she boldly tells me, "I don't know what is going to happen, but I trust in the Lord. What will be will be. I am now satisfied."

I am now satisfied. What powerful words. What peaceful words. There, in a moment when she feels her worst, when she knows her death is approaching, she still finds peace and contentment and doesn't hesitate to trust the Lord. Yet, to so many of us who are blessed beyond measure, we wear blinders that prevent us from finding that true satisfaction in the Lord with our small everyday worries. "I am satisfied." I truly became humbled in her presence.

So today, I did what I know best. I picked up my camera and documented "one moment more" with this lady of greatness as family and friends tended to her fragile last days with us.

It's too hard for me to pick favorite photos to post, because each shot and emotion tells a story in itself, so I would love for you to watch the slideshow to see every single one of my favorites. The family has also asked me the honor of showcasing this at her upcoming funeral. To those reading this blog, I pray that this inspires you to reach out to your loved ones and embrace each moment you are given with them. As my mom always says, “Whatever the question, love is the answer.”


And here are a few significant shots.

Beautiful Ruby resting her eyes for a moment.

Ruby's handicapped son, Chris, on his knees praying for his momma. Chris was considered a miracle baby considering he only weighed one and a half pounds when he was born and wasn't supposed to live past a few weeks. Now in his 50s, I have always admired him in how despite his circumstances growing up, he is genuinely one of the happiest, most loving people I know. Without him realizing it, that has taught me a lot.

A few years ago, Aunt Ruby told my mom, "I want to know what people are going to say about me at my funeral before I die." In this photo, everyone is gathered around as my mom reads a tribute written by her brother Jeff, who couldn't be there, wrote about her on his blog. The even greater thing I love about this photo is how I caught my cousin Mike in the corner turning away to wipe his tears streaming down about his mom.

After reading Jeff's letter, my mom sings Ruby's favorite hymn to her, "Peace in the Valley."

A shot my mom caught of me feeding Aunt Ruby the town's famous watermelon they celebrate each year with parades, carnivals, arts and crafts and dancing at the Watermelon Festival.

May God bless my precious Aunt Ruby.


Blogger Amy DeYoung said...

One of my favorite blog entries yet... as I'm all teary eyed. May God bless your Aunt Ruby and your whole family... you are in my thoughts and prayers.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Davina said...

Scarlett, that's beautiful and you're doing such a perfect job of documenting a fragile time for everyone involved. Your writing is really wonderful, too. Amazing.

2:30 AM  
Blogger Whizarts Wedding Photography said...

Thanks for making it B&W. Colours would have ruined it.

3:08 AM  
Anonymous Jules said...

Beautiful story, beautifully written and photographed.

3:16 AM  
Blogger Dany Ruiperez, fotógrafo said...

ouh, your words... your photos... your feeling when writing... it has moved to me... my eyes have become damp...

This is the tribute that all we would have to do to our dear people...

A strong hug and... ny better wishes


3:54 AM  
Blogger 6 of Four Creations said...

Wonderful writing and beautiful pictures. What an honor it is for us to have this responsibility of documentation.

8:48 AM  
Blogger nicole green said...

everything you wrote and each picture is SO beautiful. you are so strong to document that time. i'm sure your family will cherish those photos forever.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Stacy Cross said...


12:32 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Thrasher Photography said...

Really really nice Scarlett. I LOVE your PJ work. And how much more significant that it's personal to you.

Very inspirational. I want to more work like this as it becomes so important for family memories.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Such an amazing story. Scarlett, God really has given you the gifts to change lives. This story and these photos impacted me in a way that I cannot put into words. With tears in my eyes, I'm still smiling at these photos seeing how amazing this woman was and how at peace she really is. I loved how you talked about her actions versus her words. I dream of one day being the grandmother/mother/aunt/friend in the kitchen that everyone wants to share their hearts and lives with. May God be with your family during this difficult time. Love, Rachel

8:50 PM  
Blogger Julia Christopher Photography said...

Scarlett you are a doll... that made me think of my Mamaw... what a joy to know that she loves Jesus. We should rejoice and sing when she goes to be with him, I will remember you your family and Aunt Ruby in my prayers.... God Bless. And those photographs are absolutely striking...

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Oleksandr Havrylyuk said...

What a great story and great photography!!! Very touching!

10:35 PM  
Blogger Captivating Studios said...

Thank you everyone for your beautiful words. I've been completely heart broken over it all today in tears on and off, but your encouragement has brightened my day. I cherish each of your friendships.

1:14 AM  
Blogger Christy said...

That was beautiful Scarlett...
To lighten your saddness... close your eyes and imagine the feeling Aunt Ruby will have when she takes her first breath in Heaven.
I'm praying for you and your family.


1:59 PM  
Blogger Amy Martin said...

I meant to comment on this the other day. Your photos are always beautiful, you know that... but these are truly touching on a whole different level. It's hard to find beauty in moments like these, but Ruby obviously led a beautiful life and you're doing an amazing job of documenting it. Lots of love to you.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

wow. i'm so touched by this..your aunt ruby is an amazing woman. I wish I had the chance to know her, but I almost feel that I do by reading this blog entry and it has lifted my spirit.
Thank you for sharing with us all.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This posting touched my heart! It was beautiful to read the words that came straight from your heart.

I can't help but think that you have gained some of your Aunt Ruby's inspiring qualities, for you seem to portray, by how you live, a part of how you described her to be.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family During this time!

You are loved more than you know!

3:44 PM  
Blogger Jessica C. Moritz said...

Deeply touched. May God bless your aunt Ruby!

3:27 AM  
Blogger MomentsbyMichael said...

so touching....


8:11 AM  
Blogger Ricki Ford said...

I love this post, She is a beautiful lady.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Captivating Studios said...

Thanks again everyone for the new comments. Your words of encouragement has been such a strength during this tough time. May God bless you all!

2:42 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Scarlett, I can only imagine what you must be going through right now. I wish I had the words to give you at least some comfort, but know I am here for you if you ever need to talk. I pray for your Aunt Ruby, your family and you. Your images of her are so beautiful, and as I am wiping my tears, my heart is smiling because you are just a beautiful person inside and out.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous jen wood said...

ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! I've been bawling like a little baby (without the loud wailing). I had a Great Aunt Ruby too. She passed away a year ago. Like your Ruby, mine was an amazing woman of God - served as a missionary in India for 38 years. Scarlett, you've done an amazing thing here. She'll be in a much better place. I got chills when I read Christy's comment above. What an awesome visual. Know that people are praying for you and your family.

5:07 PM  
Blogger LaCour said...

Scarlett, tears are in my eyes and I am so greatly moved by your story and pictures. Beautifully, beautifully done. If it's OK with your family, will you send me (or just post) the macaroni and cheese recipe, once it's released to the public?

: )

We'll call it Aunt Ruby's Mac 'n' Cheese.

Big hug to you...

5:19 PM  
Blogger Mary Bess said...

Scarlett...I just wish I had the words to tell you how beautiful that was. But there's just no way. Just know that as the tears are streaming down my face, I am in awe of your strength, your heart, your unbelievable talent, and your beautiful Aunt Ruby. You are all in my prayers.


6:00 PM  
Blogger Captivating Studios said...

Wow, I'm just soooo touched by everyone's continued support and beautiful words. Thank you all for taking the time to write and pray. I am so thankful for all of you and so glad that our paths have crossed to meet such incredible giving souls.

4:27 PM  
Blogger ricardophotographer said...

Thank you for sharing. I tried not to cry but I couldn't.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

How did I miss all this?!! Such beautiful words and pictures! I am deeply touched by all of it, but especially the total profoundness of her statement "I am now satisfied" - wow!!! Prayers for you and your family! Stay in touch!

11:50 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Wow, what an amazingly beautiful tribute to your dear Aunt Ruby. I just came across your blog and was captivated by your photos and writing. I had tears in my eyes while watching your beautiful slideshow. She sounds like an incredible soul and I will keep your Aunt Ruby, you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Captivating Studios said...

Thank you for the new beautiful words! I appreciate it!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Michelle Jones, Catkin Studio. said...


4:18 AM  
Blogger Captivating Studios said...

Thanks Michelle!!

12:48 PM  

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