Her name was Ruth. She died today and she was ready to go. Let me try to paint a word picture of this woman who was Swiss by birth but found herself, a child living in Germany at the outbreak of war. Her older sister was sent home to Switzerland but she, her mother and a younger sister remained whilst her father, a master baker was conscripted into the German army to bake bread for the troops. They were left living without him just on the border with Russia and that was not an easy place to be. First Russian troops crossing and pushing lives around in front of them, no care for the women and children trying to find a way to live, trying to find where their father was and if they could just get out and go back to Switzerland, join back up as a family. The Russian troops weren’t kind especially to her mother and to her aunt and that pushed these women to flee them. Pulling her mother who was weak and ill on a sledge, with her younger sister, Ruth and her sister found their way to a repatriation centre and miraculously their father found them there, he had followed their trail.
She told me all this story some years ago, we had become friends, we shared the same birth date. This was only the start of her story because she came to England, found work and found a School for adults interested in what were the causes of the fortunes of men and what was behind it all. She took up meditation and practiced it regularly. Did she think she was good at it? Probably not but she was a woman of discipline and she believed it was a good thing. I think it must have served her well because in the last years of her life she was always bright and cheerful even when unable to do much.
She had a nice home, she had a car, she had friends and everyday she called her two sisters in Switzerland. First one sister died, then the other developed dementia. Ruth became disorientated, her sight and hearing began to let her down. She could no longer drive, no longer study or read and eventually moved from her flat with a few favourite pictures and books to a residential home. Her friends began to dwindle away for the same reasons, losing independence and some of them dying but there was the good man Bart with a gentle voice and utterly kind who visited her each week, saw to it that the staff looked after her, saw to it that she was supplied with what she needed and read to her from books which meant a lot to her, books of Wisdom and Comfort. I visited her some months ago and found her resigned and calm, always polite to the nurses and still so nice to me who she probably no longer recognised. There were plans to move her to a nursing home, she wasn’t keen so when we heard that her heart had stopped, we felt that she had made her way to her own home and how well deserved that home is.
There are probably more unsung heroines who braved out times of difficulty and forged a life to be proud of. It is worth finding out as much as you can about them while they are still around. Their legacy is their steadfastness and courage and kindness.
This post was originally posted on the You can meditate too blog.