Ruth joined the Princess Alexandra Hospital Social Work department in 2008, working as a Social Worker initially in the Aged Care team for a number of months before moving to the Chronic Disease team where she and I worked together in the cardiology units at the hospital.
Many of Ruth’s colleagues were at her funeral to both celebrate Ruth’s life and to farewell her. In speaking with colleagues about Ruth the Social Worker, a number of themes emerge — she was committed to social justice, she had a quiet self-belief that guided her practice, and she pushed herself to be the best she could be.
She became a social worker because being a Social Worker allowed her to advocate for the less advantaged – she believed in the work she did, it aligned with her values.
I shared an office with Ruth until she ceased work in February 2010 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. I returned from a holiday one day to find her gone from our office and an inpatient at the hospital herself.
My most compelling memory of Ruth, during the months we worked together, was her calm demeanour and her kindness. Kind is a word that you will hear often said about Ruth. We worked alongside each other every day, chatting about our work, our patients, our families, our children, and of course about ourselves. I learned that Ruth loved her family, loved to read. and loved being a mother.
The last time I visited Ruth, at her home, I picked up a book to read to her. It got me thinking about a book she told me was one of her favourites.
“Silas Marner” by George Elliott. I read the book when I shared an office with Ruth – I actually nearly didn’t finish it – it looked really serious, peppered with old language, the print was so small, and it was set in the early nineteenth century. I did finish it.
I understand now why Silas Marner was one of Ruth’s favourite books – it celebrates a number of the things that Ruth held dearly.
It’s an outwardly simple tale about a weaver unjustly accused of a crime but it speaks eloquently about faith, hope, social justice, and parental love.
Genevievre and Marguerite, as you journey onwards in this unpredictable world we live in, go in the knowledge that your mother truly loved and cherished you both.
In the short time that I knew her, this was one of the things that most defined her.
Rest in peace dearest Ruth.
Carla Croce, 24 May 2017