A son appreciates his mother on her 100th birthday

In our family, and among our friends, Ruth’s many qualities are well-known and admired. Her positive outlook, eagerness to participate, and commitment to Jewish values have never wavered.

Let me tell you about aspects of her life that have contributed to her well-being:

Ruth and her beloved Harry welcomed three children to the world while living on the third floor of a walk-up apartment building on Querbes between Lajoie and Van Horne. From 1940 until 1957, that meant walking up one flight of stairs to get to the lobby and two more to get to our flat. It was a good 10-minute walk to the Steinberg’s supermarket on Bernard, then back. We never had a car.

Even with three children, Ruth needed more stimulation. She became an active participant in what was then called Pioneer Women, later Na’amat. With her friends, she stood on Park Ave in winter selling tags to raise funds for social needs in Israel, visited manufacturers for donations of clothing for its annual Bazaar, and helped run the nearly-new sale.

In 1957 we moved to a duplex on Barclay, near de Vimy, and once again to get to Steinberg’s meant a 15-minute walk to Wilderton and then up the hill to Van Horne. Walking up hills was part of her life.

We spent summers in a cottage in modest Préfontaine, south of Sainte-Agathe. Cooking on a wood-burning stove and heating pots of water on it for baths was Ruth’s summer routine. Harry came on weekends, by bus, bearing bags of fruit. Apart from reading and relaxing in the sun, Ruth took long walks.

When Ruth and Harry moved to 5350 Macdonald in 1974 and he retired as a barber, they enjoyed daily walks together. Residents of Hampstead got to know this little woman, arms swinging back and forth, fast walking through its leafy streets.

When Harry died in 1980, and Ruth began spending winters in Deerfield Beach, Fla. Ruth continued her walking routine.

As a volunteer in Israel she helped clear debris from forests. For her 80th birthday in Israel, she walked the streets vigorously with her daughter Rona in Rehovot and with Barbara and me in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Ironically, it was while weighing herself at home that she fell for the first time. Ruth never allowed her weight to exceed 118 pounds. An extra pound was a call for action. It was after a third fall, when she broke part of her left elbow, that the family realized she needed a higher degree of care.

In her new home at the Westhill Residence, Ruth is respected for her wit, intelligence, and humour.

She remains careful about what she eats – Harry used to call her ‘my dietician.’ Even when a delicious chocolate cake was prepared for her official birthday March 12, Ruth only ate half her portion.

“Fattening,” was her response when asked why she didn’t finish it.

Her wish after blowing out the candles: That everyone should be as happy and well-treated as she is.

She continues to walk the halls of her residence with as much vigour as she can, with her good friend Tina Xenakis, Westhill manager.

We wish Ruth a wonderful 101st year – happy she is safe, secure, and treated with kindness and love. Mazel tov!

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