Great Aunt Ruth, passed away at the age of 98.5 in Rye Beach New Hampshire. She fell asleep and passed away. I flew back east. Someone had to represent the family from the West Coast. Her nephews Charles (Puzz), Donald and Jim all wanted to attend, but could not. Aunt Ruth was a special lady, she was one of our last links to the past.
When I arrived in Manchester, Andrew Bear picked me up and drove me to Dr. Bob Bear's house. I was thinking we would go straight to the hotel, that Bob had been so generous to arrange. I was sure that it would be too late and everyone would be asleep, but no. They were all at Bob and Cyndi's house. It was great to see so much family. We spent the evening looking through photo albums and swapping stories. We all looked at a picture of Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bob's wedding. There was a young boy in the picture. We speculated that it might be my Uncle Puzz, but we weren't sure.
The next morning we all met for breakfast. A number of us went to the funeral home for a viewing and say goodbye to Aunt Ruth. Next we all proceeded to the church for the memorial service. There were flowers. One bouquet was from my Uncle Puzz. There was a note attached. "...from a grateful nephew that was at your wedding". It was him in the picture.
Three of the grand children read passages from the Bible. Gus gave a wonderful eulogy. Next we took turns sharing a favorite moment. Here is mine:
My daughters Lila, Ceci and myself were visiting Nancy at her house. Aunt Ruth was staying with her. Nancy brought out a recipe for orange cookies written by the hand of her grandmother Sarah Bear. Nancy, Lila and Ceci proceeded to make those cookies. It was the coming together of five generations. Sarah with her recipe, Ruth, Nancy, myself and Lila and Ceci. It was very special. The girls even squeezed oranges by hand to make the cookies.
It was a beautiful day. We enjoyed the cookies outside. Nancy asked her mom "Well mom, what do you think? Are they like Grandma Sarah used to make?". Aunt Ruth thought for a moment. She nodded and said "They are good. Very good. Just like hers, .... but hers were better."
I fished by reminding the family that when George Burns passed away, the headlines said "Burns and Allen back together again" and now it was "Bob and Ruth" back together again.
I learned more about Aunt Ruth during her memorial service than I knew in my 47 years on this earth. In 98.5 years, you can touch a lot of people in many special ways. She surely did that.
At the burial, six of her grandchildren were her pallbearers. We said our final goodbyes as a lady sang "Somewhere My Love", the song that Uncle Bob always hummed to Aunt Ruth.
After we returned to Bob's house. There he made roast beef sandwiches on these special rolls and cream beer from Buffalo NY. We looked at pictures and now we knew that was Uncle Puzz in the wedding picture. We told stories till it was time to call it a night. We said out goodbyes and retired back to the hotel.
I'm so grateful that I could attend and Aunt Ruth had an important part to play in that. She along with my Grandmother Mary Bear and Great Aunt Louise kept in touch over the years. They would pass news back and forth about how the family was doing. They visited each other over the years. We were always hearing about Aunt Ruth, Uncle Bob and their families. If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have had a reunion a few years ago. Our families would have drifted apart and become two. It did not.
Bob was amazing. He took such good care of everyone. He made all the arrangements. His family opened their home and their hearts. Thank you Bob, Cyndi and Andrew.