My mother grew up in Buffalo, New York and her five brothers and sisters never left. So I have visited my family there countless times. When I was a child, my mother and I often spent summers in my Aunt Ruth’s house in Buffalo with my three male cousins and my beloved Uncle Milton.
But Friday’s visit was different because it was the day of Aunt Ruth’s memorial service, and it marked the end of an era.
She had been a much-loved member of the Buffalo community. When she turned 100, the non-profit boards she served on refused to accept her resignation. She passed a driver’s “re-test” with flying colors in her late nineties which allowed her to keep driving her younger friends who were “too old to drive” everywhere. At age 104, you don’t have many peers, but she had so many younger friends that she never lacked visitors or calls as she grew frail.
In his memorial speech, her eldest son, Ken, told of the time she called the summer camp director after she heard that he had announced over the loud speaker that her son needed to move to the “overweight” table, humiliating him in public. The camp director never did that again. “Woe to the person who brought ketchup or mustard to the table in a bottle,” reported Ken because everything had to be just so in her house. He admitted that that person had usually been him.
At 104, she was tired and ready to “go” and decided to refuse food and water. But soon, Ken said, she “got hungry”.
Aunt Ruth was one of a kind—beautiful, gracious, and generous. Now she is gone. I will never stop missing her.