I answered the phone as I was home alone watching something mindless on TV late that night, many many years ago.

“Good evening, may I speak to Kim Fields please?”

“Who’s calling?”

“Ruby Dee.”

” ………… Ruby Dee, Ruby Dee??”

“Uh, yes…”

I will never forget the first time I heard her voice personally in my ear. Such a famous voice, steeped in the deepest wisdom, enveloped in the richest grace imaginable.

I sent a script to her office for her consideration and she called me personally that night in LA from New York to give me her thoughts… and to say she would love to do the movie. I could hardly breathe. I wanted to scream but felt I had to try to be as together and polished as she was. I wanted to run through the house—really down the street—hollering, “Ruby Dee just called me!”

Over the 10-plus years since that call, I have been included in her circle of family (and subsequently my husband and children as well). She agreed to star in two movies I brought to her, welcomed us into her home, shared private family stories and laughter, gave us treasured gifts and simply helped create memories of a lifetime. I have sat at her feet and beside her soaking up her thoughts on a variety of topics. I never had the tremendous honor of working with her, except in my dreams. We believe in divine order, so that’s fine. I have more than I ever dreamed of having with her. *Running loose in my mind among all the marvelous memories are two questions I can’t seem to shake. Mercifully, I feel the answers come on the heels of the questions…

I. How does one soar under the radar?

By embodying a collection of oxymorons, contradictions perhaps.
Petite yet a massive force
Love hard long and strong yet with simplicity
Boldness wrapped in humility
Stop trying to figure it out, the how is irrelevant. What matters is it happened to us, she happened to us, will continue to happen to us.
So, just study the soaring. Class is in honeys…watch with magnified eyes, and souls filled with fertile soil ready for planting the most amazing seeds ever, watch the soaring:
Dissect the eight decade award-winning career overflowing with memorable characters and indelible acting.
See her subtle beauty in classic photographs and her modern flair for stylish global sophistication.
Absorb the interviews and conversations filled with wisdom, compassion and oh yes, love.
Take copious notes on their love story.
Capture the blessed gratitude breathed upon each honor bestowed, every type of honor: artistic, activism, friendship.
Understand that quiet strength that empowered her to survive and thrive.
Study her soaring. Class will always be in.
History makers, record breakers and current trailblazers feel her beautiful breath of infinite grace powered by purpose and passion; humanity feels her maximum strength of whispering wisdom.

2. What is the purpose of light?

To illuminate, but why? For what purpose? To enable one to see, presumably to do something. The light of her life has illuminated worlds for us – the worlds of Art, Activism and Love. The light is still on and will always be on. What will we do with that light? What will you do IN that light? You best not waste the light by just having it on and  doing nothing with it. That would surely get on her “one good nerve.”

This is a spoken word piece I wrote for her [Ruby Dee] when blessed to be a part of a tribute to her. I was stunned at how moved she was. When she hugged me tight after she said, “Oh Kim, it’s too much, it’s too much.” A few years later, I was asked to do it again at another event honoring her. It was amazing to see her just beaming…

Was there a time when we didn’t know you?
Didn’t have you / love you / need you
Was there a time?
No. No memory of first hearing of you, seeing you
Shoot, we prayed for you to the Almighty
For a mighty wind to rush through our people
It was, is and never shall be a surprise, your impact
‘Cuz we made a pact with the Almighty:
Send us an angel, we’ll treat her like a Queen
Oohh, we didn’t mean
To make you cry
We’re sorry Mother, for running rampart
On your one good nerve
With our killin’, lyin’, cheatin’, beatin’ selves
Takin’ us backwards, after all the marchin’ steps forward you and your beloved
took for us
Wrapping history around your finger and never letting go
At times choking it into submission
On your mission/ journey/quest
For truth, justice, freedom…
There is none like you, there is no analogy
No example
You’re not like anything or anyone
Comparisons are made to you
(By those who just don’t don’t know no better)
Nothing, no one compares to you
You are the measuring stick…
-You make the oaks in your beloved South stand strong with pride
-You make preachers want to preach
-You make actors and activists want to act
-You make these beings that are human want to be better
-You make people of color want to be greater
-You make weeping willows in your beloved South stand strong with pride
-You make preachers want to preach
-You make actors and activists want to act
-You make these beings that are human want to be better
-You make people of color want to be greater
-You make weeping willows in your beloved South weep with grace
Oh let’s face it,
–You sho-nuff make women want to be wives
-You make wives want to love better, stronger, harder, longer
-You make humility never want to be a capital H
-You HarlemHoney, are the sweet and have tasted the bitter of our beloved Harlem
-You make people, couples, want a love like yours
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told….
Oh, do I bring this up? How can I not bring this up?:
We ached for you
You were our first and only thought that awful February day
We had not ached like that
Perhaps since ’63, ’65 or ‘68
For Jacqueline, Betty And Coretta
For you we ached…
Now, hear with ears as open as your heart
Here is my heart
So full, thoughts so scattered
Assaulted and battered by love for you
Knocked off my feet
Overwhelmed with connection
Yearning for direction
To place this love, respect, admiration, illumination
Ah yes, light does come from deep within you
Finding its way to me
Believe, I know others feel it too,
But I’m greedy and selfish when it comes to you
You’ve touched me
Though I’m not yet even born, you’ve reached me
Beyond the womb, into the universe
This verse is for you who has touched me
Reached me, taken hold of me with your
Voice, integrity, mastery of art / word / prose
I suppose I wish to be, long to be… Because you have been
I have a spirit, your spirit
Though I don’t even have life yet
Not yet formed
But already formed by you because you touched me
Reaching across space and time
Not God-like
Yet not unlike God
Surely you and the Almighty must be tight, right?
Nothing but a Holy hand could implant such
Talent, beauty and compassion
Beautiful, enduring
Strong as granite, granted, that’s a surface
And the last thing you are is surface
No Mother, you are deep, deep and lovely
Like…. Like….
Now didn’t I say there’s no analogy, no example, no measuring stick?
The Nile and Euphrates are as deep and lovely as Ms. Ruby
Ruby…. – I will not give in to the notion to plunge into an ocean of phrases
paralleling your name and gems, precious stones
I will with stone face receive the notion to plunge into an ocean of witty weaving of
Character names you’ve donned,
Awards and honors given since the dawning of your career hitting it’s stride
But ooooohhhhh the pride, the pride Mother I feel
When I think of the goodness of Ossie and Ruby and all they’ve done for me my
soul cries out Hallelujah!!!!!
No disrespect, no blasphemin’
But it is spiritual
You know they have been kissed on the forehead by the Almighty
Right here, in the center, in the sweet-spot
Where only the one who loves you mercifully, gracefully and sweetly can
The same way, Mother, you love
your beloved and your children and your grandchildren and your people
From one HarlemHoney to another,
I will always be on full
When it comes to Ms. Ruby Dee
When it comes to you.