If you want to find out why Ruby's infamous rules regarding screen time were relaxed, please watch the video below and then check out the pics from the late 80's when Zelda, Bart Simpson, and playing Nintendo were a few of my favorite things.
When I was about 10, I was in a youth baseball league. All the teams in my league were named after major league teams and by pure chance, I was put on a team called “The Mets”. Because of this, I loved The Mets and wanted to get my hands on anything related to them. I ended up having so much Mets gear that one of my brothers nicknamed me Darryl Strawberry. Of course, my mom was the one who got it all for me.
Mom didn't know much about baseball or sports for that matter, but she knew that I was crazy about this team that hit a ball with a stick. During the height of my Mets phase, she was always on the lookout for anything related to my beloved team.
The folder I'm holding below was a replica of Ron Darling's 1988 Topps baseball card and was my absolute favorite. Since most of my other folders for school were those “5 for a dollar” cheapies you would get at Paper Cutter, I would carry this one on the outside of my stack of folders in the hallway, just like someone who puts a hundred dollar bill over a wad of singles.
And I'll never forget this amazing Christmas card that must have taken her forever to make. It had prime real estate among my pictures on the wall. I saved it for years until the glitter was falling off so badly, I eventually had to get rid of it.
She also took me on a trip to the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown with my Grandfather. In the picture below, I am wearing my beloved fanny pack. In it, I'm sure I had a bunch of Mets baseball cards and that stale stick of gum that comes with the pack.
At that age, it was important to always have a few cards on you because you never knew when you would run across someone that would have a card that you were missing or vice versa and in the heat of the moment you could make a sweet trade that that would complete your set.
My most prized possession, though, was my Mets Satin starter jacket. I loved this jacket so much and would wear it everywhere. If you look close enough, you can see I'm even wearing Mets wristbands. I don't think I ever asked my mom specifically for Mets wristbands, but that's the kind of person my mom was before she got sick. If she found out that you liked something, she would always be on the lookout for anything that related to it and she'd buy it or try to make something similar.
Mom would always spend most of her paycheck on other people and truth be told, she wouldn't have it any other way. For my mom, it was the smile that she received when she would give you something. To her, that smile was everything.
Although my mom doesn't play any instruments, she always loved to sing and encouraged me to play music since I was young. Now, I play for her and sometimes, she sings along. Here's a short video of me playing, "Here Comes the Sun," as she helps me out with the choruses. Anyone who knows my mom, Ruby knows how much she enjoys music but this song specifically always makes me think of her.
When my mother was homeless due to her depression and living in a shelter in New York City, she walked the streets from morning until night. She would later say that it was a miracle that she was never harmed. Back then, her closest friend was a woman named Beula from the Bahamas. Mom told me that her and Beula would often walk together. Shortly after my mother returned home, Beula came to visit us. My mom embraced her and introduced me to her as her "guardian angel."
Within a year of her visit, she called my mother and informed her that she was going to be married. It would be a very small ceremony and she wanted my mom to be a witness. Of course my mother was thrilled for her friend. We made the drive to Manhattan and it was indeed a very small wedding, it was just 6 of us. I think the public official that performed the ceremony must have taken the photo below.
My mom hung balloons, made a flower arrangement, a couple of corsages and even got me to be the ring bearer. I asked my Dad how I ended up getting that job, and he said, "because you were young and available."
Although they hadn't known each other for that long, they both shared a similar struggle and in this time of darkness for both of them, they found some light in each other's company. Maybe that’s why she asked us to be there with her on her wedding day.
I don't know what ever happened to Beula, but I do know that the friendship that she forged with my mother was truly special. Their lives intersected at exactly the right moment in time and were that much better because of it.
My mom has always loved to dance. Growing up in Trinidad, she specifically loved calypso music. Although she can't carry on a conversation in the way that she once did, she still is able to occasionally surprise us with her dancing. Of course she isn't like this all the time but it's amazing to see her get up off the couch and see her come to life in this way.
At my "Aunt" Flo's July 4th party, my mother was in rare form and they danced to the song, Hot Hot Hot. Flo sent me a message and said, "I got my friend Ruby to dance with me!!! I feel so grateful to have Ruby back for a few minutes!!!"
Joseph Campbell once said, "You don't ask what dance means, you enjoy it" so i hope you enjoyed the video above and if you have family members or friends with memory loss, please play music for them. In my experiences with my mom, I'm consistently blown away by the power of music.
My mom had many signature dishes that she was known for. One of her favorite desserts to bring to parties was a simple watermelon fruit salad. What made this fruit salad unique, though, was that she would carve the watermelon into a bowl and decorate it with flowers. Below, you can see a photo of one she made for one of Flo's great summer parties.
One of the main reasons I started this blog was to share some of the coolest things my mom was known for and this watermelon salad is at the top of the list. It embodies her in so many ways. My mom loved fruit and she loved sharing her creative side, too. She must have made a hundred of these watermelon salads throughout the years, so when Simone and I had family coming over for BBQ last weekend, I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to make one myself.
I have to be honest though, when I was a kid, I never was impressed by this salad. It was...fruit. I'm sure that there are kids out there that prefer fruit over cake and ice cream but I was certainly not one of them.
After i bought a big ol' watermelon, I brought it home, propped it up on our kitchen table and with the image of my mom's version to serve as reference, I got to work.
Of course, I was afraid of making a mistake, but after I came up with a plan, I just sort of went for it. I got started by cutting a couple of large zig-zagged chunks on each side while leaving one strip at the top to serve as a sort of handle.
The rest was simple. I scooped out all the watermelon, put it in a bowl, got rid of those pesky seeds using a strainer and chopped up the watermelon into pieces
After that, I picked out a few other fruits from the refrigerator that I thought would complement the taste of the watermelon.
Thee final step was to put the mixed fruit inside watermelon. Simone even found some beautiful flowers from our yard which looked great on top.
When I was younger, I never really had the patience for these kinds of things. For me, making food was mostly just functional, something that needed to be done to stay alive.
For the most part, I've always eaten lots of raw foods to stay healthy, but doing something like this would have seemed like a waste of time to my younger self.
I saw cooking as ephemeral and wasn't drawn to it for that reason and now, I am finally seeing that its that same ephemeral quality that makes so much of what my mother did beautiful.
At her core, she loved to make people happy with the gifts that she was given and I’d like to carry on doing some of the things she was known for. I'm sure I'll be making this fruit salad for the years to come. If you're having a party, let me know, I'll bring the watermelon.
The first time I met Ruby was way back in the fall of 1972. Since I come from the Philippines and she comes from Trinidad, we went through the process of becoming United States citizens at the same time. We met in the courtroom on the day of our naturalization and we’ve been friends ever since.
Ruby was so creative. I have so many stories, but this one always makes me happy. I bought a serving tray a while back, it must have been 20 years ago. Shortly after I got it, Ruby came over to my place for lunch. I put all the refreshments on the tray and looking at it, she noticed that it was new. She said something about it and I remember telling her that although it was a little bit plain, I thought it was the perfect size.
We ate lunch and towards the end when she was leaving, she said, “May I borrow your tray?” She didn’t say what she wanted to do with it but I said, “Of course.” I knew she was up to something, but had no clue what it was. I gave her the tray and when she returned it, it had a beautiful painting on it. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it.
The funny thing is that she never told me she was going to paint it, she just took it. Something came to her and she wanted to do this thing to surprise me. I couldn't be more grateful and that’s how I know Ruby. She can take something so simple and she could turn it into a thing of beauty. That’s the whole soul of Ruby Adams.
When I started this blog on Mother's Day, I thought it would be just a place for family and friends to share positive things about my mom. That all changed on Sunday, when a story about my mom and I was featured on Humans of New York (HONY). Because HONY is hugely popular around the world, by now hundreds of thousands of people have been introduced to my mother and her creative endeavors. If you haven't seen the post yet, you can read it below.
An unexpected part of having her story in front of such a large audience was how other people could relate to her life's struggles and connect it to their own. Although we don't ever experience the exact same thing, what was so touching was that total strangers saw something of themselves or their loved ones in our story. So many people have reached out with love and support and for many this was a moment to share their own unique stories and feel a little less alone when trying to navigate mental illness or memory loss.
Of course, a lot of people also reacted to the lighter sides of the story. People loved seeing photos of the JAMS as well as my mom's iconic envelopes. One thing that was mentioned in the HONY post, but didn't make it into the photos, was the amazing Halloween costumes that she made for me.
My mom was a superhero with the sewing machine. When I was 12, I wanted to be half Joker and half Batman. Of course, that costume didn't exist, but that didn't stop my mom from making one. I was thrilled with how it came out and felt so cool walking down the hallway in this one-of-a-kind design.
What I learned from this is a life lesson: If you want something that doesn't exist, you need to figure out a way to make it. Of course, back then I wasn't the one rolling up my sleeves and firing up the sewing machine. But hey, I was only 12 years old.
One of the countless things that I love about my mom is that she was never afraid to look silly while she was having fun. Look at her here in the this giant ball pit at Chuck E Cheese. She must have been the only woman in her 50's in the pit. I think I was about 12 and I was probably pushing the limit as far as age goes, but look at her and that smile! Whether she was in a sea of colorful plastic balls,
attempting to become the next limbo queen,
or even that one time she got to drive an animatronic panda,
she was never afraid of looking silly and I love her for that.
In light of recent events, I've decided to put the regularly scheduled edition of Ruby Tuesday on hold to call attenton to Blackout Tuesday. If you don't know, #BlackoutTuesday is today, June 2nd and it is being used as opportunity for individuals to reflect on racism and its effects on society. I think my mother would have much rather that we support and call attention to the current issues than write about her.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and all the other black individuals who have lost their lives in the wake of police brutality and other acts of racism need our attention. With all the protests and attention around these issues, now is the time for action and we can’t afford not to speak up. With so many of us feeling helpless around these issues, one way we can help is to make a donation and I've decided to donate to a cause that my mother would have supported if she was well.
Due to all the recent unrest, many people in Minnesota are unable to get fresh fruits and vegetables. According to their website, “Brightside Produce supplies healthy food to the Minneapolis neighborhoods whose grocery infrastructure has been damaged” and I thought this was something my mother would have loved to support.
Their website explains, "Every week, BrightSide partners with small retailers throughout North and South Minneapolis to provide affordable, high quality fruits and vegetables to the community. Many of our partner retailers are damaged or necessarily shut down leaving residents with far fewer options to obtain fresh foods. Please help BrightSide donate fresh produce directly to community members.”
If you can, please donate to a cause that resonates with you. Although my mother has difficulty talking right now, there was a time that she wasn’t so quiet and I’m sure that she would have raised her voice to a roar to get behind a cause like this.
"Ruby Tuesday" is a place for friends and family to share stories about my mother and show how she has impacted their lives.