I was asked to speak, at the time of Ruth’s passing, a little from times shared with Ruth in our 20’s, which has now somehow become 30 odd years ago. Not quite sure how that happened. It was only yesterday surely.
Ours was a friendship that has spanned three decades, and although we had not always the time together, week in and week out, with life’s inevitable ebbs and flows that took us in various and different directions , whenever we would meet it was as if the last time was just yesterday. It was a friendship that, in the nature of all good friendships, the time that elapsed between greetings, becomes as nothing again over a pot of tea, a biscuit or scone, and we would pick up where we left off. Over the years our rivers have crossed paths many times and each of these times I treasure and hold dearly.
I don’t quite recall when I first met Ruth, I suspect it was through mutual friends when she began her connection and work with Fusion. I remember her as this quiet and unusually attractive woman who had a habit of coming out with the most surprisingly individual insights and reflections. It was usually after having listened gently and attentively to whatever the discourse might have been. Ruth was one of the most remarkable listeners I have ever known.
I learnt over time not to be fooled by this woman’s gentle voice, and unassuming presence. She was, in fact, a gutsy lady with a deep and quiet determination. Ruth had a strength and courage that would hold many a wobbly ship steady. And her ability to make a decision to do something, and then methodically work her way through to achieving it, will be a trait I will always remember. It was true, be it to whip up a batch of scones, or take up a course of study, or decide to give up her job and join Fusion. Or, indeed, to move cities. The young woman just simply decided to have a complete life change, and did it. Ruth would set forth with her hand on the rudder sailing forth, embracing life with an open heart, courage and love.
In March 1987 we moved into Jane Street in West End. It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly 30 years since I shared a house with Ruth. Our household of five seemed to evolve, like the gathering of small bubbles grouped together to make one larger one. One shared conversation gradually finding another and eventually the five of us came together: my partner Gerard, myself, Louise, Judy and Ruth.
We had a year together in that house. It was brought somewhat prematurely to an end by the arrival of Expo 88, which saw us evicted amidst some controversy. Exciting and heady times indeed. We each went on to different chapters in life. Ruth returned to her parents, for a brief while, before her much awaited wedding day a few months later.
A lot happened in that brief year. Ruth, along with some friends, visited folk at Linden Court, a residence for people who needed some support in life. Her ability to connect with people, regardless of their background, was beautiful to watch. There were many friends who shared a kitchen table conversation with Ruth, along Judy, Louise, and myself. And cooking adventures! And we watched a courtship evolve that began from a shared love of reading.
It was also during this time that Ruth decided to embark on an adventure to complete her senior studies. Ruth began with some trepidation, having left school at Year 10. She didn’t feel confident in her academic abilities, but this would not stop her. Again, approaching the task one step at time, with a rigor and determination befitting of the best of students, the adventure came to completion. I remember that Ruth was never being sure of the benchmark, and if her efforts were enough to even gain a pass, however, she would then totally surprised by her distinctions. I believe eventually she came to see herself differently. It took some time, and I remember Neville always being there encouraging her and believing in her.
In a recent conversation with our friend, Judy, it was remarked that Ruth was someone who really accepted herself, but furthermore, in that acceptance, Ruth extended a quiet invitation to allow a person to accept herself or himself for who the person was. And for that I am very grateful.
Lyn Dowling, 24 May 2017