This was not where this play was supposed to end, and those who came to the Fort Benning Cemetery chose to remember earlier performances that made them smile.
There were those times that a teenager first accepted applause on the stage of the Springer Theater while her parents sat there absorbed in pride. There were those remarkable chances for a grandmother to see her daughter and her granddaughter play the same role on Broadway 25 years apart. There was the time the daughter and her husband came home to perform at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
There was the call that told a doting grandmother that her only granddaughter had produced a movie that was coming out.
Near the end of this story there were moments of sadness as it followed an unlikely script that ended under the trees at the military cemetery.
The funeral Monday was for Ruby Morales. She was 86, a feisty real estate agent, one of the first women to sell houses in Columbus and one of the best. But the story goes beyond the death of a woman who wouldn’t see a sheriff’s deputy — who came to her house to tell her she had too many parking tickets — until her makeup was just right.
She died Aug. 5, believing that her beloved daughter wouldn’t live through the night. Leaving her TV on, she left home to run some errands and never came back.
She was buried this week with her husband, Mario, a former Army musician. While the ceremony was being conducted their daughter, Vicky, was continuing her desperate battle with pancreatic cancer.
Columbus knows her as Vicky Morales. In New York she is Victoria Mallory, a gifted actress who started at Baker High and found her way to stage and screen.
Her first staring role on Broadway was as Anne Egerman in “A Little Night Music,” a Stephen Sondheim musical — and her mother had the best seat in the house. When granddaughter Ramona reprised that part in 2010, her grandmother was naturally there.
Ramona was at Ruby Morales’ funeral, representing her mother. She wore her grandmother’s high heels and in her heart she must have known that, barring a miracle, she would be telling her mother goodbye very soon.
This was supposed to be a happy time for her, because a movie she produced had recently premiered. Instead of celebrating, she joined a host of local actors from the Springer who remembered the dreams Ruby had for Vicky and Ramona.
Children aren’t supposed to die before their parents and no one can explain how Ruby Morales broke in line ahead of her daughter, but those that knew her are not in the least surprised.