Friday, February 18, 2011
Ruth's Story -- Final Installment
Bob told Ruth she needed to attend a Twelve-Step meeting, to which he and his wife, Nancy, took Ruth that same night. They left two hours early and drove to Mt. Kisco, where there was a meeting in the Episcopal church at 8:30 p.m. “They kidnapped me,” Ruth says, “and we sat in the car for two hours talking.“ According to Ruth, her attitude was, “OK, if I have to attend this meeting, then I’m going to find a sponsor for Eddie.” But, she says, when she entered the room, “The meeting looked so peaceful. There were just four people when we walked in, and they had a home-made cake and coffee -- and china.” Ruth says she felt welcome, especially by someone named Lois.
“I met Lois at my first meeting in Mt. Kisco. She was clever and cute. At first she said, ‘My name is Lois -- what’s yours?’ and then she said, ‘Welcome -- we have a message for you we will give you at the end of the meeting.’” Then at the end of the meeting, Lois told Ruth, “If you keep coming, we have two things to give you: hope and love.”
Lois made pretty darned sure that Ruth would keep coming. Ruth says, “The following Tuesday, Lois called me saying she didn’t have time to do the coffee for this morning. That was the beginning of my service.”
Ruth began attending meetings regularly. There were four meetings that were convenient: one in Chappaqua, one in Mt. Kisco, one in Bedford Hills, and one in White Plains. “Over time, “ Ruth says, “I lost my desire to try to change Eddie.” Perhaps as a result, Eddie was feeling some relief from the ceasing of Ruth’s nightly readings. “But then,” Ruth says, “he got scared. The following January first, he had his last drink.”
Eddie got into the other program eventually, and the two became “program people. “ Eddie and Ruth moved to the Shoreline when their son, Wayne, was six and Eddie wanted to build a marina. When asked the name of the marina, Ruth answers, “The GD Marina….the God Damn Marina.”
In her new location on the Connecticut shoreline location, became instrumental in what she calls “popping up” meetings. First Clinton wanted a Monday night meeting, then Madison wanted a meeting, where (at first) hubbies came with their wives. Then came a Saybrook Step Meeting, and gradually, more and more meetings along the Shoreline -- from Old Lyme to Branford. Today, there are seventeen longstanding meetings along the Shoreline, but Ruth is good in the Humble Department. “There are no celebrities in this program,” she insists. “When we come into the Twelve-Step program, we find a spiritual foundation. The steps led me to trust in my Higher Power, and the meetings gave me opportunity to share how God was helping me in my day-to-day life.”
The one word Ruth uses to describe herself today is “grateful.” Which seems right. She had sixty years with a good husband, and she is celebrating her own fifty years in Twelve-Step recovery. Eddie died in December of 2000, but his son, Wayne lives up the hill from Ruth with his wife, Cindy, and their daughter Hayley, who Ruth describes as “six going on seventeen.” The day we came to interview Ruth, Wayne had prepared a lovely buffet luncheon, which was ready and waiting for us.
Ruth couldn’t see the abundance of that luncheon table because she has gone blind. A drastic turn of events, but she’s had some of those before. Despite (or perhaps because of) them, Ruth has gratitude for what God has given her. “God is nice! And good! And not mean!” she exclaims, her blue peepers shining bright. Isn’t it nice that it ends where it began, with what Lois first said to Ruth:
If you keep coming, we have two things to give you: hope and love.