Friday, November 02, 2007

My friend Ruth

Coffee black, oatmeal with raisins, toast, and two slices of bacon. Serve with a side of laughter, a warm hug, and wonderful teases. My dear Ruth, I will miss you.

Ruth dressed impeccably. Every day, she wore these polyester pants and button-down tops that I'm sure hadn't faded one bit in their forty years of washing and wearing. Her hair was always in place, a perfect halo of white curls around her face. She couldn't see very well, but her poor vision never kept her from looking her best. I'm pretty sure those polyester clothes will survive the next ice age.

She teased me endlessly. I would share my college adventures with her, my boy woes, and my dancing events. She'd always tell me to be good, to stay out of trouble, to stay away from alcohol, and to have faith that a good man would someday find me. All good advice, to be sure, but it meant more coming from her than most other people. Ruth knew what each of those things meant. She was a strong woman. She was a stubborn woman. Her teasing and my witty retorts left us both in stitches some mornings.

My family has many ties to her family, more than I can name here, and I know my family is not the only one whose lives Ruth has touched. Even after I stopped working in the retirement facility, I'd go back and see her every once in a while. Her health failed several times, but her spirit and her laughter made up for any illness.

Ruth's sense of humor stretched to everyone she met. She called things funny names, but I always knew what she meant. For example, chicken wings and legs weren't "wings" and "legs," they were "fliers" and "trotters." And even though she shouldn't, she had a bit of a sweet tooth. More than once, we talked over a couple pieces of cake or brownies.

I remember one early morning when she came down to breakfast. I must not have been very cheery because she was pointing a finger at me. I walked over to hand her some coffee, and before I knew what was happening, she let out a hearty, "ARRRRR!" Ruth understood that, even though she was 90 years old physically, she was still 10 at heart. She knew I was into the Hollywood romanticized pirate thing, and she knew being completely silly would make me snap out of it. Can you imagine a small and frail old woman letting out such a sound? Ruth reminded me to not take life so seriously.

While her lessons continue to educate me in the ways of things, the memory of Ruth's courage and devotion bring me comfort. She was my friend.

Ruth: I know you don't want a service or any fuss over you, and I'm sure knowing I'm writing this post about you isn't making you very happy. Few people touched me as deeply and immediately as you did, and I am going to miss you. Rest well. Tomorrow night, I waltz for you.


Anonymous said...

Aww. Ruth was my favorite. She was so sweet. I will miss her too!

Anonymous said...

A nice tribute. Well done.