Na Pali Coast with Grannie
  • Na Pali Coast with Grannie

This year for International Women's Day, I want to take a moment out of the rush of day-to-day work to sit in gratitude for my grandmother. I'll share some of her story here, and urge you to remember the important ancestors in your life.

Grandma Ruth, "Grannie" as I came to call her, was a constant source of love and support for me. Especially during my early teenage years and into high school, we became quite close. We were able to talk to each other about anything, things we wouldn't tell other people. She loved to share a good laugh, but was equally ready to spit curses at people who didn't measure up to her ethics when she was reading the news or watching television. She taught me a lot about gratitude, how to treat people with respect, how to forgive people, when to stand up for your beliefs and when to just laugh at the world. She wasn't perfect, she was human.

She walked a long road in her life. She endured a marriage to an abuse husband, and tried her best to protect their child--my father. She worked in many different jobs: a meter-maid giving parking tickets and appearing in court; a short stint in a chicken factory pulling guts out of somebody's soon to be dinner; a department store security guard catching would-be thieves in the act. She loved her dogs: a poodle named Coco that she had for a long time, and later, two pugs: Wally and Polly. Later on she married a man who we called my "Psuedo-Grandpa", Ted. Ted showed her so much love and tenderness, I was thankful that she could have some partnership in her later years. Any doubt about their match was washed away when I heard their plans to get married-- on Leap Day! True to form, Grannie blended the serious with the light-hearted fun.

In 2002, we found out that she had lung cancer-- after smoking for too, too long. When we found out, I was across the country at college, but for Thanksgiving I flew home and gave her a surprise. I'll not soon forget the look on her face when I greeted her that day. Or that hug we shared... and then she laughed and called me a name I shouldn't mention here! Hahaha, maybe she didn't like surprises after-all. But, you could tell how grateful she was to spend that time together.

A few months later, I was on my study-abroad program in Namibia and she was confined to a hospital bed at home, on painkillers, struggling for breath. I remember we spoke on the phone, around the world, but I could hardly recognize her voice. It was heartbreaking to hear this strong woman sound so weak. Not long after that cancer took her away, just before she reached age 70. It was terribly difficult to be away for that, even though there was nothing I could do. I think I just wanted to be with her one more time, and to be there to support my father as he went through this tough transition.

But, this my friends, is a celebration! I am thankful for all the time that we had together, and all that I learned about myself from being her grandson. This past December, I carried some of my Grannie's ashes with me to Hawaii. I brought her along on one of the most difficult, and breath-takingly beautiful hikes I've ever been on, out to the Na Pali Coast of the island of Kauai. At the edge of the world, where the old volcanic cliffs meet the sea, I held some space for her and laid her down to rest while looking out to a rainbow over the sea. I know she would LOVE that view, and now I can always carry that new memory of our time together.

So, Happy International Women's Day! I invite you to take a moment to be thankful for the women in your life who have helped make you who you are today. Share your story, and join the celebration!


Take action! This post was submitted in response to International Women's Day 2012.


A touching tribute to your grandmother. I hardly knew my grandmothers because I lived in different countries, but when I see my own kids with theirs, I realized how much I missed. Hold on to the special memories!


Those memories are like treasure to me. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hopefully one day you can carry on the experience and be a grandmother yourself! Best, Scott

Scott Beck

A touching story of a wonderful woman. Thanks for sharing Scott. I enjoyed reading it. It tells a little about you as well :)


With best wishes,

Nusrat Ara 


Hi Scott,

Really touching story! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story Scott. Your grandmother is amazing :)


Sarvina from Cambodia

Regards, Sarvina from Cambodia VOF 2011 Correspondent

Your grandma was an amazing woman and with your pilgrimage to Hawaii at Na Pali Coast you laid the most beautiful tribute for her, Scott! Thank you for sharing her story with us! She will be forever remembered!

Warmly, Ellie

Dear Scott, My tributes to your love and affection towards Grandma. Undoubtedly, your words portray her strong character. I appreciate your devotion and care even after when she was not alive, but you still assured the much appreciated respect to her soul in the nature's lap. Bravo for that. Also, really we gotto understand that instead of looking for lame excuses that we are busy in our own lives, we should try to spend quality time with our elders and express our love to them, cos life is a vicious girl and we all have to pass that stage, where we are in a dire need of support, love and care. Nice read Scott.

Aliya Bashir

I have mixed feeling: I am jealous of you for having a granny like that (A granny with two dogs, catching thieves? Now, that's what I call a real character!!!) and happy that she gave you so much love and good feeling, could spread it with us, sitting continents way. Celebrate you must!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Thanks for sharing, Scott. I really enjoyed this, and it brought back wonderful memories of my grandmother. She too had many hard times in her life, but she also found happiness with a second partner later in life. Among the things I was lucky enough to have done with her was to visit Paris together when I was seventeen. I remember sitting in the Cafe de Flore with her, imagining ourselves transported back to the 1940s, discussing philosophy and women's rights with Simone de Beauvoir and her circle!

My grandmother died nine years ago, but I'm always glad to have known her and to have had so many of my ideas - about books, about people, and about the world - influenced by her.

To grandmothers!


Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing Emily! It's so great that you got to travel with your grandmother. That sounds like an incredible experience. :)

To grandmothers! Scott

Scott Beck

Scott Thanks for the reminder. The women who made me who I am is my Aunt by to me she will always be Yaboye a dear way of calling mummy. Ya Oley as many called her. She was one of the closest people I had in my life. Whenever I watch her picture hanging in my bedroom, I am thankful that I had a special women in my life.


Thanks for reminding me of that grateful person in my life my mummy she is a wonderful woman of God and a royal model being a single mother she managed to rise the 6 of us my The Almighty keep her for me.


I like the ideas issued by the pulse women Thanks for those messages and be blessed

Aloha Scott,

The photo of your (and now our 'collective') Grandma Ruth's beautiful home in the red earth of Madam Pele's abode is simply gorgeous. I know Grannie was hiking along side you (with wings on her feet), so she must have felt like she was dancing hula instead. What an amazing gift you returned to her. She held a very deep and solid trust of you, and I'm sure that in the near future she will be helping you make child's play out of all the "challenges" you listed in that little box.

Mahalo for giving so much of yourself for all of us to appreciate Scott.



My son worked at The Benson Hotel for 2 years so I was in Portland every 6 weeks and went through withdrawal when he moved away. Haha. Did two Christmas Tree lightings at Pioneer Park.

Anyhow, I am moved by your writings, especially your Grandma article. While you were blessed to have her, she is blessed to have such a wonderful, sensitive, appreciative Grandson. Good for you.

I admire your desire to understand women and make a difference.

Wendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Thanks Wendy for your thoughtful comment and for taking the time to read.

Portland is a special place, that's for sure. C'mon back anytime.

Day by day, bit by bit, together we're making a better world. Thanks for all you're doing too! -Scott

Scott Beck

Hi Scott,

I continue to read your writings with interest. You caught my attention with your tribute to your lucky Grandmother.

Yes, Portland is great and I will let you know when some day I return.

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together)


Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.