Aunt Ruth

January 16, 1948-September 10, 2019

Aunt Ruth, Uncle Barry, Christmas 1971

Today, my aunt Ruth died at the age of 71. She was my mother’s “Baby Sister.” It was brain cancer.

I wish I could say hers was a life well lived. I wish I could say she achieved all of her hopes and dreams. She was loved, but her life was not perfect. Growing up, the cycles of abuse that echoed throughout generations of my working class Irish family must have taken its toll. Sitting next to her in this photo is her husband Barry, a man who died in a boating accident not too long after this photograph was taken, leaving her alone to raise my older cousin Jeff, whom I admired and looked up to. Given the hand that life dealt her, I think she did a pretty good job of it. He’s a pretty neat guy who’s a professional DJ and loves paintball, and has a son of his own.

During the times I had the opportunity to spend time with my aunt Ruth, she was very sharp, intelligent, and witty. She would speak very fast as she said something witty, but she never seemed to let anyone get too close. I wanted to get to know her better, but I was afraid. I knew she wanted more out of life, but her darkness was holding her back. Sometimes, she would disappear into that darkness, but my brave mother would always go looking for her in that darkness to bring her back out into the light that shone from her love and the love of family. Whenever I saw Aunt Ruth after my mother had brought her back into the light at Christmas time, she had a look in her eye that reminded me of a dog that had been beaten too much. All I could do was hug her. I had no words of comfort to offer.

She didn’t die alone. My mother brought her into the light of her love one last time, bringing her baby sister into her home so she could take care of her. My mother would always be there for her with a compassion and understanding that knew no bounds. I’m certain my mother’s unconditional love for her baby sister comes from knowing far better than any of us what her baby sister had to go through in life that thrust her into her darkness. My mother made sure her baby sister got to see her son one last time mere days before she died. She made sure her baby sister got to speak to me on the phone before she lost the ability to hold a conversation from her aggressive brain cancer, and I want to remember those final words she was able to speak to me forever. Words that she struggled to vocalize at the same quick rate she used to. How generous of her to give me those words in the final days of her life, it was the greatest gift anyone could offer.

I suppose, given the love of my mother and her other two sisters, my aunt Ruth did live a full and wonderful life. I credit this love for helping my aunt live to the age of 71. She left me a great cousin in her son, and her legacy is the evidence that love is the light that helps all of us find our way out of our own darkness. I only wish I could have hugged her one last time, and that’s what is breaking my heart right now.

Love you, aunt Ruth.

Happy new year!

It’s the last day of 2012. What a year! It’s been difficult for me, and many others around the world. As I reflect on 2012, I have to admit that, through all the hardships that this year dished out, it was frugality that helped in a big way. I don’t pretend to be perfect; my path is guided with frugality, but I know I’m not frugally perfect, so I’m going to make some frugal resolutions for 2013 to help guide me closer to frugal nirvana.

The first resolution I’ll make is to commit to weekly updates of this blog for the entire year. Every Friday, expect to see fresh, new content, with original photographs.

My second resolution is to commit to a 2:1 ratio when it comes to acquiring stuff. What this means is that, for each new thing that comes into my house, two things must go. This is part of my on-going efforts to de-clutter, as well as to provide me with a moment to consider if I really need that new thing. Whether it’s selling through eBay, donating to Goodwill, or just gifting to someone, two things must go for every thing that comes in.

Finally, I’m going to resolve to spend more time enjoying life. 2012 was all about my new career, house, and adapting to the changes that occur as a result of a career and house change. I’m finally feeling settled in both, so I’m going to commit to at least a couple of weeks of “Down” time, to travel and enjoy life. This part is all about giving myself back some time.

All the best to you and yours in the upcoming new year, and if you have any resolutions you’d like to share, feel free to share them here.

Happy holidays!

‘Tis the season for overspending and overeating as we scramble at the last minute to get everything done. Perhaps it’s time to reflect on how we spend the holidays and learn to do more with less. Many of my blog posts to date have lead up to this, and I hope you’ve found them helpful. I’m in a time crunch this week, so I didn’t have time to finish a proper blog post. I did want to take the time to wish my readers all the best this holiday season.

Christmas 1978 in the Quirk house