My baby girl has left home. It’s been a big month in the Emmerich household.
As I describe it to my friends, “The most mature member of the Emmerich household has left.”
Ruth is now a Kappa Kapa Gamma freshman at Ole Miss. I was officially banned from writing anything about her until after rush.
Ole Miss rush is something to behold. My wife Ginny is a Chi Omega. My mother was a Delta Gamma. Ginny’s mother is a Kappa Delta and Ruth’s aunt Donna Knight and cousin were both Tri Delta rush chairman. All at Ole Miss. So, there was a lot of family pressure on Ruth to join this or that sorority.
In the end, Ruth joined the one that she thought was the best fit for her, a decision that I commended her for.
Ruth being Ruth, she was torn because she wanted to please her mother. To Ginny’s credit, Ginny wasn’t pushy at all and told Ruth she would be happy with any decision Ruth made.
The whole process was very nerve racking for Ginny and all the moms. There is always the threat of not getting in, which can be a hard blow to a young girl just leaving home. I have been praying for all these girls.
In my opinion, the sororities need to get together and make sure every girl who wants to be in a sorority gets in somewhere. There could be a blind lottery so that those girls who didn’t get a bid were randomly assigned to all the sororities evenly. I think the university should take the initiative to make this happen.
At Harvard, all freshmen lived in Harvard Yard. After freshman year, you picked which “house” you wanted to live in. Each house had its own dining hall, library and living accommodations. It was like a fraternity or sorority, but it was not exclusive. You picked your top choices for the house you wanted to live in, but a computer ultimately made the assignment, so there was no rejection issue, just bad computer luck. I think this is a better way.
Moving Ruth into Martin dormitory was something. I describe it as, “A thousand little princesses moving into their new little mini-palaces.” I had to laugh watching entire families standing in line in the blazing heat, arms full of furniture and stuff, desperately waiting for the elevator. One family had a dad and four younger brothers at the service of big sister. It was hilarious.
After it was all over, Ruth’s new dorm room didn’t look anything like my freshman dorm room which had only a bare bunk bed and spartan desk. She had all kinds of fancy pillows, sheets, desks, bed and stuff with fancy names I couldn’t even pronounce.
A few weeks before, Ginny emailed me a list of dozens of required dorm room items for Ole Miss freshman girls. The price tag was $5,000. My blood pressure skyrocketed and I immediately phoned Ginny. “No way” were my first words.
Ginny calmly explained that the list was not what Ruth and she were buying. Instead, it was to show what other families were doing so I would be more accepting of their less expensive plan, which was already giving me heartburn.
Ruth actually has always been frugal and was good about buying hand-me-down stuff from the previous freshman class. That makes perfect sense.
I am already missing Ruth. I can’t say enough about this girl. I know every other dad must say this, but any man that ends up with Ruth as his wife will be one of the luckiest men to ever walk the planet earth.
She’s kind, smart, hard-working, frugal, beautiful, charming, artistic, spiritual . . . I could go on and on.
When things got rough in my life, not only would she notice, but she would write uplifting spiritual notes and leave them around the house where she knew I would find them.
If I ever said anything negative about Ginny, she would stop me short and say, “Dad, I understand marriage can be stressful and I sympathize with your position, but I am uncomfortable listening to you say anything critical about mom.” Wow! How mature is that?
Ruth has always found the best in people and then pointed it out to them and that includes her mother and father. Right before she said goodbye, she handed us each long letters thanking us for being great parents and pointing out all the wonderful things we had done for her and how much she admired our unique personalities and strengths. It took me days before I mustered up enough gumption to read it.
Ruth was born in the house we live in on Rebel Drive. How ironic that Martin dorm is right at the end of another Rebel Drive.
For 19 years, this wonderful creature has been under foot. Here, there and everywhere. Smiling as she walked down the hall. Cooking breakfast burritos and chatting while I refilled my coffee. Discussing life and social issues over late-night dinners. Traveling to see friends, family and places. Ruth has been part of the fabric of my life for a third of my life.
I had been holding up pretty good until late one night two days before her move. It started out simply enough, me just playing a late-night song on my guitar.
It was a melodic children’s ditty by the Nitty Gritty Band called House at Pooh Corner. I always saw that song as an anthem for that period in life when you’re raising young children and reading them Winnie the Pooh. The children loved to hear me sing it to them when they were at that precious young age of six or seven. I hadn’t played it in a decade.
About half-way through the song the tears started flowing and they just wouldn’t stop. I ended up walking through the graveyard behind our house thinking, reminiscing and crying for the longest time. I will miss that girl so. What a gift that I had her by my side for so many years.