Seniors: She's always kept busy
Ruby Schumacher has always liked to keep busy.
Schumacher grew up on a farm near Alexandrea, one of six children. She liked roller skating and dancing. Her father played the accordion, and she would travel with him when he performed with his band.
"I liked polkas and waltzes and two-steps. All of those dances," said Schumacher, who moved to Farmington's Trinity Care Center nursing home in January of 2009.
It was at a dance where she met the man who would become her husband.
By the time she was 14 or 15 Schumacher was working at Anderson Funeral Home near Alexandria. She would bring people down to look at the caskets or help with flower arrangements. She would clean. Sometimes she would stay overnight rather than go home.
Schumacher has worked in grocery stores and department stores. She's been a bookkeeper. She's even taught driver's education, though that came much later.
"I was always a busy girl," she said.
A few years after she married, Schumacher and her husband moved to McCloud, Calif., a lumber town near Mount Shasta in northern California. Her husband had a job working in the lumber yard and worked as a deputy sheriff on the side. Schumacher, of course, found jobs to keep herself busy. She also raised three children. The oldest was in first grade when the family moved.
The family stayed in what Ruby likes to call God's Country for eight years before coming back to Minnesota.
If moving to California was a big adjustment for a kid, moving back to Minnesota might have been even tougher.
"I was in my eighth grade year," said Melody Tousignant, Schumacher's oldest daughter. "It was devastating at the time."
California or Minnesota, Schumacher kept busy. When the neighbor children lost their parents, Schumacher helped take care of them. She taught Sunday school and vacation Bible school and sang in the church choir.
Schumacher hunted and fished with her husband until he died in 1991 of bile duct cancer at the age of 68. She also loved to garden. She grew more vegetables than the family knew what to do with.
"We were canning and freezing things. I used to pray for a frost," Tousignant said.
Schumacher has been asked to sing since moving in at Trinity, but so far she's turned down the requests.
"I have such a bad cold and flu," she said.
For a while, just staying healthy was enough to keep Schumacher busy. In 2007 she fractured her left hip. A few months later she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Surgery took two-thirds of her stomach and she went through chemotherapy and radiation therapy until she got too sick to continue. Her recovery continued, though, and today she seems remarkably healthy.
"The nurses and doctors can't believe how far she has come since then," Tousignant said. "She's been doing amazing."
She's busy living.