Dear Grandma

Posted on: May 1, 2020

By Ashley Miles, Ruppert Nurseries

What a world that we are living in today. Businesses are closed, schools have been delayed until further notice, millions of people are unemployed, we are staying at home and the streets are quiet. The busy, social lives that we lead just a few months ago are now a deadly threat to our health. Grocery stores have food, but do you risk possible exposure? Are you bringing COVID-19 back to your family? Are you already “carrying” it and worsening the spread? Hundreds of thousands of people all across the world are dying. We’re keeping ourselves in quarantine to slow the rate of infection because our hospitals are already exhausting every resource. I can’t help but to repeat it, over and over – what a world we are living in today.

This reminds me of a blog that Ronda wrote for our newsletter that was shared in June of 2019. Her blog was titled “The Obligation of Experience”. In this blog, Ronda wrote about the importance of sharing your experiences. She impressed that everyone has a wealth of knowledge that is unique and valuable. She urged our younger readers to tap into that knowledge and to not let those important experiences go to waste. She feared what would happen if we were hit with a “zombie apocalypse” and we were left with our own experiences. She wrote, “You know what keeps me up at night? (Besides global warming and what we will do with all the Earth’s trash). I worry about what will happen if there was an apocalypse of some sort. God help us all. Hardly anyone knows how to grow a potato anymore! Who do you know that can shoe a horse, sheer a sheep, grow cotton? If zombies or aliens ever invade this planet, we’ll be starving and naked faster than you can say starving and naked!”.

Mere months after writing that blog, Ronda’s nightmares became our reality. It wasn’t zombies or aliens, but a lethal virus that invaded our planet. Now what?? As I sit alone in my quiet apartment, safely secluded from human contact, my eyes can’t help but wander to the photograph hanging across the room. Mary Frances Barnes Crabtree looks back at me with smiling blue eyes and hair as white as snow. She is proudly holding her two granddaughters on a sunny day in Tennessee. No “six feet apart” rule anywhere in sight. What would my grandma Crabtree have said about the world today?


I am one of the many “younger” readers that Ronda referred to in her blog. I am 31 years young and although I have a lot of valuable life experiences of my own, I am happy to say that I would not be starving and naked faster than I could say “starving and naked”! I think that’s largely due to the fact that my grandma shared as much knowledge, experiences and advice with me as she could. She was born in 1927. She was the oldest of 11 children who were raised on a family farm, in the mountains of Tennessee. She taught me how to sew while telling me stories about how feed sacks were once printed with designs on them because families would use them to make clothing. She taught me that there is nothing that can compare to the taste of a homegrown tomato or sweet corn (oh, how I wish I could have a bowl of her creamed corn again). She taught me how to make tea out of ginger root to calm an upset stomach while reminiscing about collecting wild sassafras for sassafras tea. She taught me to grow aloe and I will always remember her sending me home with a freshly cut chunk of slimy aloe to soothe a burn on my finger. There was no topic or question that couldn’t be looked up in one of her many trusty reference books. My grandma taught me many things, but perhaps the most important lesson and the most befitting of Ronda’s message, was to help people. She had a deep interest in hearing someone’s story, learning from their experiences and sharing those experiences with others.

I lost my grandma Crabtree this past December, but her experiences live within me and everyone who knew her. As close as we were, there are still questions that I wish I would have asked; one more letter I wish I would have sent. While we are cautioned to stay home right now, think about picking up your phone, sending a message or writing. All of us have stories that are so wildly diverse and stories that should live past our own expiration dates. Share pictures, seek advice or ask how they would survive during a zombie apocalypse! See how you might be able to help someone with all that you have learned. I think you’ll be happy that you did!


Ashley Miles, CPH

Ruppert Nurseries