Below is a slightly different version of what I wrote to and about Ruth, who recently turned 100. I was unable to attend her birthday party a few weeks ago. And…you still have time to post your Holiday Contest entry in the comment section of the December 3 post. Deadline: December 14. I’ll post the winner here December 17.
Love ‘n Stuff,
After reading my wedding announcement in The New York Times in 2009 and seeing I was from Buffalo, a Davidoff, and the daughter of the late Esther Cohen Davidoff, Ruth called my mother-in-law, Doris, her neighbor at Chestnut Hill Towers, and told her Esther had been her first best friend.
That made Ruth and Doris, longtime acquaintances, sort of mekhutonim.
It made me very happy. I then called Ruth. We spoke at length. The next time I was in Boston visiting my in-laws, I visited her.
She gave me a picture of my mother at age 17 with a group of girls and told me stories about her and about her independence, feistiness and sense of humor. I knew all that about my mother, but I loved hearing about her from Ruth.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to talk about Ruth all the time. It saddened her that Ruth moved away to Boston. She told me she never found another friend she liked as much.
The summer I was 6, when Ruth was in Buffalo and Crystal Beach, where her family and my grandmother had cottages, I met her. I was afraid of dogs. When Ruth was at my grandma’s cottage visiting, a neighbor’s dog came over. I cowered. Ruth quickly reached for my hand, held it, and talked to me lovingly, understanding my fear and gently getting me through the moment. Her warmth and empathy immediately came through.
So in 2009, after finding each other again, we began to have lunches. Dinners. Talks. She is all my mother said she was, how I remembered her, and also, among other things: funny, busy, really busy, great company, well-read, and well-loved.
Two years ago, when she was in New York, we schmoozed for hours over brunch on the Upper West Side; however, she couldn’t see me during her next New York visit. She went to Yankee Stadium to see the Red Sox play instead.
Ruth has been a hard person to keep up with. I’d give anything to be like her as I grow older. I’d give anything to be like her tomorrow.
Who knows whether I’ll be invited to another 100th birthday party or celebrate my own? When I think about what it takes to get there besides good genes, good health, and luck, I put family, friends, spirit, a sense of humor, engagement in life, interests, and a positive attitude right up there. I’d say kvetching is probably out.
I think, too, about what a great picker and understanderer (I know that’s not a real word) of human nature my mother was to have had Ruth as her best girlfriend.