Thursday, December 29, 2011

Giving thanks for the people who helped me this year/ Poem: Home Movies

I decided to take a few minutes today to thank people who had been good to me throughout the year. After I did my shopping at Giant, I stopped next door at Authorized Camera Repair to thank owner Matt for helping me w/my digital camera. Bob was on duty, so I sent him an email wishing him and his family Happy Holidays. Don't worry, I included his dog Lola.

Then I called the Hodges, leaders of our Family Member Group to thank them for all they had done for us.

Prior to that, I called one of our family members, "Theodora," whose daughter is floridly psychotic and resists treatment. I wished Theo strength for the upcoming struggle.

Then I called mom, 89, to thank her for her generous check which reimburses me for the home movies. Altho I rarely say it, while listening to my mother talk, I thot, God, I love this woman. She has such a happy chipper voice, like that of the 22-year-old woman she was when she married my dad.

After speaking to mom, I called Aunt Selma, 93, in Cleveland Heights, remembering her number as YE2-8164. She has a wonderful Midwestern twang. I guess I do, too.

"Hi Aunt Selma!" I said.

"Ruthie!" she said, recognizing my voice. "I'm so glad to hear from you."

We talked a long time. She was feeling desperate, she said, b/c she was down to her last audio book, but then her daughter Linda checked out 11 audio books from the library.

"It's all I do all day," said Selma. "I can't do anything else."

She's blind (macular degeneration). Everything else works.

I told her about my mom falling flat on her face on the kitchen floor. My mom hadn't told her. Since I saw mom yesterday - she baked a batch of peanut butter fudge for Helene, which I brot Helene at Artman - I saw how well she was healing. Her black eye looked like a smudge under her left eye.

While finishing up my James Jeffords book in bed this morning, I had an idea. Why not ask Alan Kerr, the editorial page editor of the Intell, if I could write a guest column: Make a New Year's Resolution to Become an Organ Donor.

I thought it was a great idea until I came downstairs and rethought it. It's a terrible idea, I said to myself. After breakfast, I realized what a great idea it was and I left him a voicemail and followed with an email.

Imagine my joy when he said Yes. Immediately, I began goggling for information and found UNOS - United Network for Organ-Sharing. I called their number in Richmond, VA, and spoke to their communications specialist, the lovely Jill Finnie.

She was very helpful and sent me an informative email to answer all my questions. When you call someone to interview them, as I did Ms Finnie, you should have all your questions ready. But I was concerned with the time - it was about 4:15 - and I was worried she may have left.

So while we chatted and I wrote down her answers, I kept thinking of new questions to ask her.

My boyfriend Scott is perfect in every respect. But...he is not an organ donor.

My next poetry assignment is to write a poem about being 66 years old. The best years of my life lie ahead of me, is a line I thought of. Where did I get the line? Someone was singing it on the radio today. I grabbed my pink pad from the pocket on the door and jotted it down.

My next book to read - An Educated Man, a Dual Biography of Moses and Jesus by David Rosenberg - offers two autobiographies side by side: one is of Moses, the other of Jesus. I've always been fascinated by Jesus, but never thought of Moses as a fascinating man until now. Can't wait to start the book. These two men were extremely educated - their writings make use of quoting learned people of their day or centuries earlier. Both made use of "the supernatural" when espousing their new religions.


Upon the occasion of having movie reels transferred to one shiny DVD

You’ve come back!
So nice to see you Dad.
It’s been years. So many,
I’ve forgotten you
until today.
Look, that’s you putting your arm
around me. We thought we’d have you
forever, never dreaming you would die
An awful death at 59
those cigarettes - which smelled up the
station wagon when driving us home from
Sunday school -
decided to take you out
but look, you didn’t die,
you’re here whenever I watch the DVD.

And mother! How beautiful,
plopping out babies every few years
DARDEL was the mnemonic Daddy gave us
for his five girls and his boy
Ruth Donna Ellen Lynn Amy David
Davey, m’boy, you were the first to go
your solemn photo just before your
overdose shows your pride mixed with
the shock of having autism
yes, you flapped as a child
and were clumsy
never knew it until we saw it
in the home movies.

Aunt Selma, lucid today at 93, hasn’t
changed much, that husky voice of hers,
her love of parties, there she is at my
dad’s fiftieth with Uncle Marv.

Like a many-faceted diamond
we see different ages of people
there’s my sister Lynnie at two looking out the
window on Glenmore with the mumps
not knowing she’ll be best friends with
Libby next door or that her children
Jade and Miles will make her proud.
Don’t breathe a word that
Domestic Abuse followed her
for five drama-filled years – our
beautiful Lynn? – until she paid him
off and he fled.

My father was a handsome man
a lady-killer with his saucy walk
and Jewish nose
his mane of white hair made women
want to run their fingers through it
and did
until he lost it all to radiation’s burning fire
just as the Luckies and then filtered Kents
burned through his lungs, darn it, Daddy,
we never thought you’d die and suffer so:
“Hit the tumor with a hammer” you told me.

Donna’s marriage is a dim memory to me. I call
her at Starbucks to ask where it took place. The
caption I type in reads Yonkers, New York, 1970.
She was a few months pregnant with Melissa
who later in life would give her dental implants
though sometimes they fall out
we don’t know why

My failed marriage is up on the big screen too
Millard, dead at 62, and I are shown in our wedding finery
my white size 5 Evan Picone dress I bought for $5
and Mike’s pink shirt we got ironed at a nearby cleaner
Docile, a knower of things, a darling Texas twang
It took two weeks before his temper came out
a cloud of toxins swirling like cigarette smoke
ensnaring me day and night, no surcease, until
I jumped bail and left. Shaking with fear.

His mindless mother is still alive, ninety or thereabouts
can’t initiate conversation though we love her and
her Texas twang. She was always butch, a gym teacher,
then a counselor, who found feces in the gymnasium
from one bad boy. That’s not in the movies.

My favorite? A park in Bucks County
called Ringing Rocks.
There I am, with my famous face,
traveling the rocks with David in tow
he falls sometimes but I let him be
as he scrambles back up
I am tethered to my father who is
filming all of us
you won’t find a girl who loved her father
more, though I confess life
got in the way until the movies
rebirthed the lot of us and I am
made whole again.


  1. Thank you, Ruth, for being good to me this year.

  2. What a magnificent idea, to thank people at year's end.

    I don't think you really ever forgot your father, of course, or any of the others you show us glimpses of here. I think you should keep a copy of this along with the movie, for the younger generations to read. Thanks for this!!