July 26, 2009
I hadn’t seen my Aunt Ruth since her 95th birthday in 2007. She lives in Buffalo, New York, an under-appreciated town, especially when it isn’t winter. Aunt Ruth is a big booster of her city, and although Denver-born has been a Buffalonian for 70 years. About 30 family members attended her birthday party, two years ago, and she was by far the most beautiful person there.
Now, at 97, still beautiful, still sharp, a self-professed political junkie, she is the only living person who has known me since I was a week old. When we visited last weekend, she told me that she came to meet my parents with her fiancé, my mother’s brother when I was brand new. She said I was a beautiful baby. (This is dubious, at least according to the faded photos of me as a new born.)
Aunt Ruth hosted Peter and me in her still-elegant home where she lives on her own. (She admits that her kitchen “closes” at noon, and she mostly eats dinner out with friends, almost all of whom are younger than she is.) She is still beautiful and as gracious as ever. She thanked us over and over again for coming to visit her.
On the morning after we arrived, she made us a delicious breakfast. When we came downstairs, she was impeccably groomed, her make-up perfect. The table was elegantly set—no jams in their jars on a table in her home! She refused to let us carry a plate to the sink. “When I want help, I’ll ask for it,” she said sternly.
We had a great weekend in Buffalo, even got to see some cousins and some impressive sights. Aunt Ruth reminded us more than once that we are quite young which doesn’t happen much these days.
We didn’t hear a single complaint from her all weekend, although we know she has some aches and pains. She told us she hopes to just not wake up one morning.
We hope that doesn’t happen soon.
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