Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday Ruth

Ruth Ingeborg Alexander was born January 1, 1900. Every year on New Year's Eve I light a candle in her memory. I buy a yartzeit candle at the grocery store. It burns for many hours. It is customary to light this type of candle on the anniversary of a family member's death, but I am ever so thankful that Ruth was born to live on this planet, and I don't know much about nor care for religious traditions, and I never remember the exact date that she died. I prefer to light a candle for Ruth on the day of her birth.

Ruth came to take care of me and my four siblings when I was six weeks old. She was fifty. She told me she lied when my parents asked her if she had experience with children. She wanted that baby. That baby wanted her.

I wasn't with her when she had cancer and died. I didn't get to hold her hand, or rub her back, or stir ice cream until it was soft for her to eat. I just know that when I tried to call her to let her know I'd be coming to visit, her phone was no longer connected. Several days of calling government offices in Sweden led me to a women in a tax office who was willing to try to find her. And then the last time I called, the middle of the night for me, 9 AM in Sweden, "Miss Shapiro, I'm so sorry to have to tell you. Ruth Ingeborg Alexander, born January 1, 1900, is no longer alive.

I've lit a lot of candles for Ruth over the years, I estimate around 25. No reason to stop now. In fact, as I see it, every reason to continue.

Happy Birthday Ruth. Happy New Year to all.

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