Wednesday, 27 March 2013



The anniversary of Ruth's death is 27th March, and I wanted to repost this, originally written in June 2012, in her memory. May her words and thoughts and deeds live forever in our hearts.

Ruth died on Tuesday 27th March 2012 at seventeen minutes past 10 in the evening. She had been suffering for just under a year with pancreatic cancer, and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease some years prior to the cancer being identified. It isn't my place to go into too much detail about her life, but I feel the need to write a tribute to her.

She was a remarkable woman, who played a major part in my life from around the age of 17 or 18, when I swam into the orbit of her family. Just like anyone who ever met her, I'm sure, I will never forget her for her ready laugh and sometimes outrageous sense of humour; her strong but (generally) kind personality, and her immense but largely unrecognised writing talents. Her poetry had a light touch, and could be extremely funny, but poignant too. Some samples of her work are here and a book was produced in 2011. Her literary love was Dylan Thomas.

A great player of parlour games, she had a fondness for Trivial Pursuit when it was at the height of its popularity, and there was always a Braille Scrabble set around, as well as the letter cards from Lexicon that she could use for anagram games - beng able to make out the letter shapes in their large format.

In a world of timidity, there were few things she was scared of, and few things she wouldn't face by tackling them head on, before brewing up another pot of tea and blasting Tosca out of the stereo in the kitchen at full volume. There aren't many people I can remember having such laughs with, and even when I saw her last, with the Alzheimer's in full swing, we still spent a good part of the day roaring hysterically.

"I like him," she said, "He makes me laugh!" And how good did that make me feel?

Her eyesight began to deteriorate at the onset of adulthood, and continued to worsen throughout her life, so she would always be seen out with a white stick and (in later years) a guide dog. I remember that she loved Eastenders, and would sit virtually on top of the TV set following the plot. When making tea, she would put the tip of her finger over the rim of the cup to ensure that it was poured to the right level. This absence of vision did not however prevent her from living a full life, nor from bringing up a large family, each in their own way as remarkable as she was. As well as working for talking newspapers, she also advised special access groups on provision for those with sight disabilities, read her poetry from memory at various venues, and was a source of help and inspiration for almost anyone (and believe me, there were all sorts) who came to her door.

"And death shall have no dominion
Under the windings of the sea"

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