Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Could Have, Would Have, Should Have....

Aunt Ruth and I have blogged a lot about the importance of friends...hers!   I haven't mentioned how much getting to know her friends has meant to me.  The women on each side of Aunt Ruth are all in their nineties, and last night, I had the honor of photographing the birthday queen, Jean, as she celebrated her 90th birthday with her family and life-long friends.  

Jean is an accomplished baker, pianist, singer, and all-around pal.  See that smile on her face?  She has it all the time, and it generates a similar response in those who know her.  I would never have crossed her path without picking up my camera to photograph Aunt Ruth, and oh how much I would have missed.

Without a doubt, my life is surely better (and more fattening) from spending time with Aunt Ruth and her welcoming friends, so here's to the 90's, friends, family, and the joy of being behind the lens.

I left the party far sooner than the rest of the dancing guests, but I will never forget the tributes, the tunes, or the collective wisdom on that dance floor.  

I think I will call a friend....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just Let it Grow....

Summer solstice. Produce stands.  Aunt Ruth's terrace!  That's the place I go when I long for companionship that is nurturing and easy. 

Like you, I read about aging and the importance of socialization as if this need is more important to "the elderly" than to the "rest of us."  One of the many lessons I have learned from photographing, listening to, eating with, and enjoying Aunt Ruth is that my life is richer, happier, and more meaningful from time spent with Aunt Ruth.  

At 92, Aunt Ruth is often grieving from the loss of a neighbor or a life-long friend.  I share my own worries about loved ones.  She listens, nods, smiles, and offers lessons from a well-lived life.  We comfort each other.  We sit on the terrace covered in carefully tended flowers and enjoy casual conversation with a tenderness born from unconditional love that soothes and warms.

I even take a short nap.  Aunt Ruth watches me sleep.

Ah, summer.  Ah, Aunt Ruth! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

One Thing I Know For Sure...

I've been feeling a little less than lately, so I had dinner at Aunt Ruth's last night.  I know that Oprah has been the nation's therapist, ultimate gift giver, inspiration, and teacher of best lives for so many, but for me, it's Aunt Ruth! ( All right, so I also like Oprah and so does Aunt Ruth)

Aunt Ruth and I were sitting in her living room talking about the usual topics ranging from the economy to her current discovery of cutting up those small cucumbers you can get at Mark's and putting them into a jar of leftover pickle juice to make some swell snacks, when I found myself asking, "Aunt Ruth, what do you know for sure?"

Without hesitation, she said:

1.  Time doesn't ask if you want more time.  It keeps going on like a river, so you better take advantage of it!

2.  I know for sure that I have many good friends.  They are vital to my life, and I have had many of the same friends since I was three.

Then, there was a pause....and she said:

3.  I know for sure that getting old is very hard to accept.  When I was young, I never thought I'd get old.  I know for sure that I have had to accept being old, otherwise I would turn into a miserable old lady, and there are already enough of them!

4.  I know for sure that you have to like to eat to be a good cook.  You must taste while you cook to know if what you're making is any good.

5.  I know for sure that being an aunt is easier than being a parent.  I don't have any responsibility as an aunt.

6.  I know for sure that being a wife means being truthful.

7.  I know for sure that to be a good sister you must love each other, but even more important, you must respect and help each other.  I adored my older sister, and I miss her every day.

We sat in silence for a while, and she smiled and said,

"Honey, what I know for sure is that love is the most important thing in your life.  It is the greatest gift.

Here's to Loving Aunt Ruth.....and her sweet family....