In Memory of Ruth

This poem was written twenty years ago.  It was written about a former co-worker and friend.  She was a heroin addict when she was a teenager as a result she was diagnosed with AIDS after her life started getting better. At the time the only medication available was AZT and that made her sicker then the disease.  Her death touched me greatly she was the first person I knew intimately that died of AIDS  that was in my age group and that I was close to.

In the poem I reference a few of our office terminology his a little glossary.

P.S. is a Personnel Specialist- (coordinator) a P.S. is a liaison between the home attendants (HA), nurses, administration, bookkeeper and clients.

The P.S. was also responsible for keeping track of the HA time sheets.  If an error was made on the time sheet a correction sheet had to be made so the HA could get paid.  Our boss preferred none, but if there was one or two okay. The sheet had space for fifteen corrections. Ruthie use to have two to three sheets alone for her corrections. Sometimes more.

The sunshine was a club the employees had created. Every pay-day we would put in $2.00  each and use the money if someone became sick, had a baby or death in the family.  The director of the company wanted her hand in it.  She gave me the responsibility of being in charge.  The staff was not happy that the director, not only wanted to run the club but she wanted us to now contribute $5.00 a pay-day.  Everyone was afraid the director was going to use the money for her own personal means.  So I stopped collecting the money and we had a big riff in the office over the sunshine club.  There were meetings just about every day to discuss this “very important business“. In the end we contributed $5.00 and I kept a general ledger record of all transactions.  The boss never got to dip her fingers in the pot.

Bing Image
Bing Image

she was just a little girl, in a mean cruel world
with a bright smile and a twinkle in her eye
you can help but feel her pain with a cry
she was so sweet when we first meet
so innocent she was like a pet

every two weeks the office was heated
Ruthie had another correction sheet completed
we fussed and complained
the new P.S. was a pain
her work soon got better
knowing her became a pleasure

we watched her mature
her affection was pure
she meet a man
they made their plans
she was happy and free
as a mother to be

after a time of confusion
she had no illusions
she and her man will be together
she promised her devotion forever
they vowed their love true
then said their I do’s

it was her world
treasured like a precious pearl
the office was a mess
over sunshine who would guess
a meeting was called
in getting there Ruthie stalled
she complained if it’s that sunshine again
I know someone needs to bend

there wasn’t much talk
into the room she walked
for her there was a special chair
full of love and care
her spirits were lifted
as we showered her with gifts
for her baby conceive in love
was a gift from above

everything was going her way
surely happiness would stay
nine long months passed
her beautiful daughter was born at last
there was no sight of sorrow
it was the beginning of an enchanted tomorrow

soon Ruthie began to look sad
something in her marriage went bad
what was wrong no one could guess
we just wished her our best
her little girl was growing
the pain in her life was showing
we all were there
to show that we care

the wound was slashed deep
it wasn’t an easy trial to defeat
the giver of life only gives what one can bear
I felt Ruthie had her full share
each day was marred by more grief
there had to be a coming relief
she had more life to live
but her health began to give

the root of her sorrow
told of her clouded tomorrow
one day she decided to be brave and strong
and told everybody what was wrong
everyone began to cry
when they heard she was going to die
we could not face the reality
that this disease showed no partiality

it just wasn’t fair
watching it take someone so dear
in route to conquering another mile
she would face each day with a smile
while we shed the tears
of our selfish fears
she continued to strive on
hoping to live long
but her little body began to grow weak
as this disease neared its’ peak

she wanted to give her daughter her time
so from her job she resigned
after a long needed rest
she labored to live life at its’ best
she love to party you know
to the clubs and the Appolo she would go
her future was her right
it was a hard and painful fight

she just couldn’t keep going
her illness was growing
there is no way around it
to the hospital she was admitted
we all wished her well
hoping she’ll pull from this hell
she just wasn’t strong
and it wouldn’t be long

we did all we knew we should
making her as comfortable as we could
death was a welcome relief
from all her pain and grief
we gave Ruthie our love and care
now it only her memory we have to share

©Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria 1994

27 thoughts on “In Memory of Ruth

  1. Oh my oh my… this is such a poignant poem with so much within it.. So many young people are caught up within the trap of drugs.. This really touched my heart…
    At least more and more help is out there today… Or at least I feel it is… Love and blessings for caring so much.
    Sue ❤

  2. How sweetly touching to write this for your friend and how sad that her child had to go on without her mother’s presence. It sounds like her co-workers were truly caring people…I’m sure your affection for her was greatly appreciated. I’m glad you kept a ledger for the Sunshine Club’s money. I don’t like that the director made you up the ante…it should have been agreed upon by all involved. I hate office politics!

    1. We were a close knit office. I still keep in touch with many of the people. That was my boss she had to have her fingers in everything. That’s why we kept having meetings. I even cursed her out. My immediate supervisor told me to go and apologize so I wouldn’t get fired over the sunshine club. the boss thought I would be a push over and that she could manipulate me but I wasn’t and we soon agreed on terms. I went to that boss funeral last year or the year before.

  3. We lived through some time, didn’t we, Kim. I remember when I found out years later after I’d moved away from Maryland that one of our friends Charles had died from AIDS, a smart guy who came with his partner Ronnie when a big group of us rented a beach house on the shore … It was, like, not Charles!

    Your poem is a great remembrace. Sorry for your loss, still.

  4. The lily is such a beautiful flower; it seems so strange that it represents death, and yet the memory of death, and the love for he/she who has passed, needs a beautiful thing to represent them. (Just thinking out loud, Kim.)
    A very touching poem, Kim; very heartfelt and true.

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