July 2013 phone conversation between Aunt Ruthie and me:
M: Well, Ruthie, how are you doing?
AR: Well, I’m puzzled!
M: Puzzled? What about?
AR: I’m doing puzzles, doing “word find”! Ha ha ha! (Still witty at 95)
Teaching: Adoring teachers surround their retiring principal at Rheems Elementary School
Living for Others:
Back to the piano at Rheems Nursing Home: Of the residents, many of them younger than she, her response: “They are poor souls. They probably wouldn’t recognize it if I repeated songs.”
Her schnauzer, Fritzie IV:
January 4, 2012 When her care-giver, nephew Mark has surgery, she remarks: “You and I, Fritzie, are orphans now.”
* * * * * * *
The school-teacher, principal, tax collector, family and church accountant, “mother” to dozens of refugees and immigrants has now landed on the spot of the calendar that says 95.
In July 2013, after falling at home, she recuperated at a rehab center and is now living at Landis Homes, a residence for seniors, many of whom are Mennonite, near Lititz, Pennsylvania. She has survived a pacemaker procedure and pneumonia in 2008, a hip break in 2010, and another fall this year. Yet she can still get out of bed, dress herself, and go places with her walker.
Hobbled by her falls and the natural progression of age, she’s no spring chicken, but she is still mobile. However, she finds her memory loss harder to deal with. The pilot light in her brilliant mind (she skipped 2 grades and had to have a chaperone at college because of her age) is now flickering during these last few years:
May 15, 2010 “Am I out of it?” she asks, dealing with the confusion that has set in.
May 17, 2010 “Sometimes I feel as though I must guard against a mental relapse.”
May 22, 2010 “I feel like a monkey on a stick.” Or a doll – Sue (then her housekeeper) comes “in the door, takes me off the shelf, dusts me off, and puts me back up again.”
Feb, 27, 2011 “I took care of my grandfather, my mother, and now, I have to be taken care of. I was hoping this wouldn’t happen to me!”
January 11, 2012 “I don’t trust myself to say the right answer.”
April 13, 2013 Though there is confusion about where she is and the day of the week, she still notices that the hands on her Bulova Caravel watch have stopped. She gets a new piece of jewelry on her wrist today–and a touch quilt!
TODAY IS HER 95th PARTY: Time to Celebrate
Her Wit: She gets the Last Laugh!
At Landis Homes, conversing with her sister-in-law, my mother, who is the same age, has the same name, down to the middle initial:
Aunt: I want to go home to my house, my dog, my things . . . .
Mother: You have it good here, Ruthie.
Aunt: All I do is sit here. I could just as well do my sitting at home.
Mother: Here you have nice people to help you, good food, pretty flowers all around. Virginia Hoover, Simon and Mary Jean Kraybill from church, even Cecilia Metzler, my sister-in-law live here. And they all love it!
Aunt: Why don’t we just exchange places then? We have the same name. You could sit here just as well as I. No one would ever notice.
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