by Victor Banis
Jacqueline Grubbs, a.k.a. the much loved writer Ruth Sims, passed away on May 8. The loss is a grievous one, not only for lovers of fine writing, but for all thinking and caring people. Jackie was a classic example of a too-often-forgotten truth, that ultimately we are what we make of ourselves.
It is very informative to think that Ruth was reared as a child in a fundamentalist religion so strict that when – as children – they walked down the street and found a known homosexual or a “fallen woman” coming in their direction, they were intended to cross the street to avoid “contamination.” Moreover, she had little formal schooling, and in her entire life, as she informed me, never traveled more than 50 miles from that same small Illinois town where she grew up and where she and her husband not so long ago celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Isn’t it astonishing that this woman could go on in her later years to write sincere and sensitive tales of men loving men? Where could it have come from, that wonderful sensibility? It is surely proof of my long held theory, that the real journey is inward. I think there is no doubt that it is a journey that Ruth took, to the betterment of all of us.
Her output was not vast – a pair of novels (The Phoenix and Counterpoint) and a scattering of short stories – every one of which is well worth the reading. She was an elegant writer – I can think of none better in our genre today – with a master’s understanding of human nature.
Moreover, she was one of the loveliest women I’ve ever known. I too was under the impression that her health issues were mending. I’m deeply saddened that they were not. I considered Jackie a friend, but my personal sadness is compounded by the knowledge that we have lost a great writer, of the sort that come along but rarely in any generation.
© 2014 Victor Banis