Dear Aunt Ethel,
Although you're no longer here on earth, I miss you. How I remember when you'd visit us on Friday nights, you and Uncle Dave, and then, after he passed, Uncle Herman.
How you loved men! And who can blame you? So do I. I went through a lot of them. I married and divorced my husband Mike, dead now, the father of my two beloved children Sarah and Dan.
Now I'm settled down with the man next door. Yes! Scott lives right next door to me. He has the blue house, I have the yellow one.
You were rather isolated at The Essex House. When we'd ring the buzzer, you'd let us in. The first thing we saw were two birds in a white iron cage. A good metaphor for the many isolated older individuals who lived there.
And now, my mother, 96, is also isolated. She lives in a lovely suburban house, tended by my sister Ellen and a woman from Australia named Ina. (pronounced Eena) They are best of friends and Ina cooks delicious fare for her.
I'm sitting here in my upstairs office drinking an Australian Tea - fancy that! - my friend Rem gave me at our Saturday writers group we call Beehive, as it's held at the home of Beatriz, originally from the Argentine.
The tea is FABULOUS! No caffeine.
My hands are freezing cold. 35 degrees outside.
Sent Aunt Selma a postcard today. She's 100, great mind, but....
Yes, there's always a but. She has macular degeneration. Forget if it's wet or dry. Zip code is 44118.
We were 44122.
C'mon, Ruthie, get on with it.
The front window sill hosts lovely sacred items.
My late brother, David Richard, made a vibrantly colorful ceramic bird house under the tutelage of the late Jane Tammaccio, an award-winning teacher of the mentally challenged, like David was.
I have filled David's bird house with real feathers.
My friend Helene, born in 1929, moved out of Rydal Park and let me pick out things I wanted. A closed-mouth vase - I insist you pronounce it VAZZ - filled with artificial fruit I had one year on a Xmas wreath.
Martha, from our writers group gave me a lovely pitcher and tea cup. She also gives me fantastic recipes like her Tomaterkraut Recipe. Main ingredient sauerkraut. I had forgotten all about that probiotic until she shared the recipe with me.
The wooden stork! I spotted it at the old Upper Moreland Library in their show case, contacted the late Ralph Nelms and wrote a story about him for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He and his family invited me over when he was dying of ALS and he gave me The Stork.
Mom, you'll be happy to know, got the traveling bug after she and Daddy toured Europe and Israel.
She took a few trips with Jill, whose last name escapes me. In Belgium, she brought home People, which stand like stalwart soldiers, on my living room window sill. They are clear, transparent. If you were a child you would want to suck on them. Not to worry, I resist the impulse.
Let's move into the kitchen, where I cut a large piece of cornbread and spread it with creamy peanut butter.
By the window is a ladder I bought at a yard sale. Painted it colorful colors. A mobile is on there. On the top row so it gets light is an orchid, my boyfriend Scott gave me, and a philodendron. That plant is mottled yellow, white and green.
My friend Winnie Bannigan gave it to me when she was dying of cancer several years ago. Its leaves look like Rapunzel's long hair.
Go with God, Winnie Bannigan.