Our Lives Begin Before Our Lives


I love this photo of a darling 2nd grader. She’s Ruby Mae Foster, my Grandmother, when she was just 8 years old.

My Grandmother died last week. We called her Memaw, one of the silliest sounding Grandma names in the lexicon of Grandma names — though of course, it was not said with silliness but affection. Thankfully, she lived a long, full life. She was partnered with Jim Foster, my Grandfather (Papaw) for many years, though sadly, he died much sooner. She had two children, four grandchildren, and recently met her twin, great-grandchildren who were just born. She also has a great-grandchild on the way, my cousin’s first child.

That same cousin posted this photo on Facebook last week, and I loved seeing Ruby has an 8 year old. I’ve never seen a photo of her this young. And I was instantly reminded of this:

Our lives begin before our lives.

I would not, and I could not exist as the person I am, had this 8 year old also not lived. In part, I come from her. And there is a whole period of her life, a whole historical period, to which I am connected (1933-1982) simply because she lived it before I was born. My life is inextricably linked to these things.

And this is true all the time — yes, in relatives with whom we share DNA, but also, so many others. A whole myriad of humans shape us and continue to shape us.

Our lives always begin before our lives.

I like to wonder sometimes. . .

Who shaped the people who shaped me,
Who mentored the people who mentored me,
Who gave me life in some way before my life ever started, and
How do these people show up in my living?
Perhaps in deeper ways than I am even aware?

Our lives begin before our lives.

And the lives of others are beginning in ours. We’ll meet some of them, but many, we’ll never know about. Individually and collectively, our lives are shaping the particularities that will shape others. It’s not totally deterministic – a good thing, after all, as some particularities are hard. But this is deeply connective. Deeply creative. I think this is a mysterious, marvelous thing.

Renee Roederer


I’ll be away much of the week to be present at Ruby’s visitation and funeral, so this will be my only post for the week. But when I return, I’ll be right back at it! The best to all of you.



3 thoughts on “Our Lives Begin Before Our Lives

  1. Renee this is a very good picture of Ruby at your wedding. Ruby was a very caring person, and I know she truly loved her grand children. I’m sorry I was not able to be around her in many years. But I know, Jim will being greeting her as she goes to her eternal resting place. Love Robin (Mom)


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