It would have been my grandmother’s birthday today. Ruth Elizabeth Smith (Morrison). She would have been in her mid-nineties and I think about her almost every day. So many of the best conversations of my life were with my grandma. About the meaning of god. Of life. Of why a real lady should study French. About why I should travel, and where. About feminism, and how lucky I was to be able to go to university and study whatever I wanted, simply because I was born at a time and place when I had the choice to do so and there wasn’t a war or men in the way. About love, the hard work of marriage, and how to make the best chicken-noodle-soup so one doesn’t spend too much money on groceries. About how to grow a big garden and the value in putting things away for friends or a rainy day. About how life can be hard and unfair, but wonderful anyway. About how to let your granddaughter win at Monopoly. About the importance of being hospitable, and gracious, and about always making a cozy bed for whatever guest might walk in the door. About family, about sacrifice, about resilience, and mostly about joy. Happy birthday grandma. Thank you for teaching me about how to build a beautiful life.