We thought it was time to visit my 99-year old aunt. We had been told that Aunt Ruth prefers not to deal with too many people at once and therefore would forego a big 100th birthday party in February. So in August, Peter and I picked the long October weekend for our visit to Buffalo and asked some cousins there if we could stay with them.
As it turned out, eleven other out-of-towners had the same idea, although after we did. We lost our spot at our cousin’s house because her family decided to visit the same weekend. There were no hotel rooms because there was a Buffalo Bills football game.
Aunt Ruth insisted we stay with her. So, joined by her DC daughter-in-law whose husband was trekking in Bhutan, we did.
I admit to having been a bit nervous. Aunt Ruth lives in a beautiful home without full-time help. I was worried that she wouldn’t let us help her, and that we would exhaust her. I was right on both counts.
She was her usual interested and interesting self, although a bit more fragile than when we last saw her. She had planned a Saturday night dinner for the whole family and some friends at the Buffalo Club, a place where they know her well. She made a short welcoming speech before dinner, as gracious and beautiful as ever.
The next day, she was tired, but OK. We were amazed when she insisted that we not help with the lunch dishes before we left for the airport. She may need a cane and a motorized chair to go up stairs, but she is formidable.
When the cab came to pick us up to go to the airport, she said she had decided to give a party for her 100th birthday after all, and she hoped we would come.
She cried. And so did I.