Every summer the CILTs at Camp Tecumseh take a trip to the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Center in Delphi to visit with residents. We spend time talking with them, share camp songs with them and learn more about them and their life. As a counselor, I get to go visit three times. I've been a counselor for the CILTs for 9 summers so I have been a frequent visitor at St. E.
From the first year I visited, I would spend time with my gal Ruth. Every time we showed up, I'd beeline it for Ruth's room down the hall to the right. She'd always greet me with a smile and over time we became friends. I learned about her jobs at the telephone company and the bank. She grew up in Brookston and had never traveled far from home. Each summer she'd tell me about her grandchildren and how they were getting ready to take their sheep to the 4-H fair. Some weeks her son would be visiting at the same time and I'd get to know him as well.
One thing that Ruth and I had in common was that we both love crafts. I'd show her my friendship bracelets or give her one each summer. Ruth's windowsill and book shelves were a museum of all the crafts she had been working on. They have a class for residents to make things each week and Ruth was always in attendance. She had picture frames, flowers, wreaths and more than she had put together. Ruth has a great laugh and quick wit. She'd tell me about other residents, her new roommates, about the people who worked there-- I love spending time with her.
This past summer when the kids of Session 1 came we had time to take our friends outside to the patio. It was a beautiful day and the sun was too bright for Ruth's eyes. Noah, one of our awesome guys, offered up his neon CILT hat. Ruth put it right on and didn't take it off the rest of the day. Noah ended up telling her to keep it and she had it with her every time we visited the rest of the summer. She's an honorary member of the CILT Pack.
I missed the CILTs second trip this summer when I was doing Wilderness in CO with Young Life. When I returned Ruth greeted me with, "She's back from the mountains!" I brought my computer and told her all about our entire trip. She asked questions and wanted to know about everything.
We knew right away that she wasn't doing very well. She recognized me and reached for my hand right away. As I held her hand, I told her about my students, about Young Life and what we were up to at Camp this weekend. She didn't talk much but it was so good to see her.
Today I got a message from a friend who works at St. E letting me know that Ruth passed early this afternoon. She's 99 years old, and would have been 100 this February.
I'm so thankful that I got to see her one more time.
I think it was divine timing that I got to see her just yesterday.
I'm thankful for the ways our lives overlapped to form this unlikely friendship.
I'm thankful for Ruth's life and the ways that she impacted the people around her.
I can't wait until we're reunited again one day.