|Ruth (Bruce) Bailey 1919-2012 and Nelson Bruce 1923-2008|
When I was in my teens, I was given the Winnie the Pooh Birthday Book. I passed it around to friends and family. It was amazing how apt the little quotes were for the people whose birthday was on that day.
I don't remember what the quote was for my father's sister but it must have struck a chord because she signed it, "Ain't it the truth, Aunt Ruth."
Aunt Ruth was the third of four children. Her oldest sibling, Isabelle, was her mother's favourite. That coupled with Isabelle's weak heart meant that the chores natural to the oldest girl fell to Ruth.
Anything that Isabelle did was better than anything Ruth could ever do - a source of lasting resentment. Yet, when remembering her sister, Aunt Ruth talked about her musical skill with great pride.
Lloyd was next in the family. As first boy, he had certain privileges normal for the time. Aunt Ruth described him as intelligent, sensitive and basically lazy. He had great ideas, but no follow-through.
Then there was my father. Though only four years older, Aunt Ruth was like a second mother to my dad. She got him ready for school and made sure he got there on time. She looked out for him and, while she might scold him 'til she was blue in the face, no one else could say a word against him.
Everything I know about my father's side of the family I learned from Aunt Ruth. She was the one who told me that Grandpa Bruce's name was William. Even my Dad wasn't sure, since he and my grandmother separated before he was born. She told me about my great Aunt Lally who came to Canada as a war bride and was sent back to Scotland by her husband when she got homesick. When she wanted to return to him, he insisted she stay the full year they had agreed on before he came to fetch her.
Nor was her extensive knowledge limited to family history. Sometimes I get caught up in my own little world of writing. When promoting a western, for instance, current affairs don't seem very relevant. I had to bone up before calling Aunt Ruth, though. If I didn't, she'd catch me out.
At almost 93 years of age, Aunt Ruth had good innings, but that doesn't help the grieving.
Ain't it the truth.