Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It Was Her New York: Ruth (1929-2010)

Painting by Myron Heise (section)

Grew up in a cold water flat in the back of a candy store in Brooklyn, maybe Greenpoint. Self-educated, she put universities to shame and thwarted the New York Times crossword puzzle every day of the week. Believed in a world based on social justice and married for love, a man who the eve of his daughter's birth put on a tuxedo because that's how important such an event was.

When she became a widow she took over the newspaper stand in Times Square that was her husband's who had inherited the business from his father. That's her in the right hand corner wearing the red sleeveless shirt. Myron Heise, an artist and one of her employees at the stand painted it.

We knew her as the hippest mother on the Lower East Side. She had style, was filled with verve, wore great earrings and she traveled to Italy, a place I knew composers of the 1600's once lived, but not a place I knew living people visited. At least not the people in our neighborhood.

This cold Sunday, her loving family, her adoring neighbors, her loyal friends, her fellow travelers, the community she built through a ferocious dedication to learn, understand and connect gathered at her house. And with a reminder to not use the word "hopefully" her life was honored.

Tis a Fearful Thing

It is a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.

A fearful thing
to love, hope, dream:

to be--

to be,
And! to lose.

A thing for fools, this,

a holy thing,

a holy thing
to love.

For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

'Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing,
to love
what death has touched.