Graham is the mother of two daughters and one son and grandmother of eight. Her eldest grandchild turns 16 this year.
She shared about some of her early influences. “My grandparents on mom’s side lived across the street from us for years. Later they moved a mile down the road. They were great influences in my life. My grandmother was a homemaker and my grandfather was a writer. He also was a magazine editor and a mentor to my dad. He was a Godly and honorable man.” Graham added her grandfather enjoyed playing baseball. “I still miss him.”
Graham recalls during her growing-up years, the town of Montreat, North Carolina was home to not only the Graham family but many retired pastors and missionaries. It gave Graham and her four siblings the opportunity to be surrounded by caring folks who “would pray for us and not gossip.” Those around her were called Aunt and Uncle, and created a sense of extended family.
Graham never felt like she was reared in a fishbowl, as is common for many whose parents achieve fame. Her mom and dad had a desire to bring their children up in a “normal environment.” Brothers Franklin and Ned, and sisters, Anne and Gigi had lots of places to hide, according to Ruth, who thought of not just one church but the world as their environment. Her early years were spent knowing she was different. Graham is clear to distinguish, “I knew we were different; not spoiled, just different. That’s OK.”
Her adult life brought many challenges. Twice married, Graham was forced to deal with a husband’s infidelity. She later became instrumental in helping her three children as they dealt with many of life’s difficulties. “Panic would grip my heart and all I could do was pray.” And pray she did; her eldest daughter’s bout of bulimia, her son’s attraction to recreational drugs, and her youngest daughter’s unplanned teen pregnancy all brought Graham to her knees.
In an earlier interview with 700 Club’s Shannon Woodland, Graham recalls the moment she arrived home after her second marriage failed. “Questions rolled in my mind. What will my life be like? What will they say to me? What will I say to them? As I rounded the last bend in my parent’s driveway and saw my father standing there, I got out of the car and he wrapped his arms around me and said, 'Welcome home.' It was a wonderful picture of a father’s love for a broken child.”
“I’m richer now for all the stuff I’ve been through. Life has been good to me,” she says, and enjoys what she does these days. “I’m an introvert, but I love people.” Graham travels and speaks frequently, not afraid to share her life, the difficulties and challenges, showing how God has been faithful to her.
When asked if there was a time she thought about leaving her faith, Graham responded, “Jesus provides what I need through each crisis. Where would I go? Why would I go anywhere else?”
These days, Graham’s heart goes out to those who sit in the pew and are afraid to be vulnerable. She wants to help people provide safe places for folks to be themselves. By being transparent, she tries to exemplify the concept that we can love and accept each other right where we are. Author of several books, Graham shares her life openly and hopes her openness will encourage others to do the same.
How does she want her three children and eight grandchildren to remember her? “I want them to know I love them, and accept them as they are. I want them to remember I did my best and was honest with them.”
“My life has been very messy,” says Graham. “How do we face the messy times? God will bring us to the point where we depend on Him alone. And God is a God of peace.”