October 24, 2018, Prescott-
Penny’s mother passed away, last night, at the age of 92. She was the last of her birth family and had fought bravely against cancer, among other diseases, actually beating it, whilst in her early seventies. Other ailments took cancer’s place, and she spent her last year in a most uncharacteristically sedentary life.
I was fortunate to have seen Ruth Faust Fellman at her most active best, and to have offered her solace, twice, when she was in one of her most despondent states. Through all of her suffering, her youngest daughter took the reins of caregiving and worked the ups and downs of dealing with a still adolescent senior care “industry”. As with any person who steps into such a role, she deserves the finest of accolades.
My mother-in-law was the youngest of three children, and had to be far above her older siblings, just to get the recognition and respect she deserved from them. Ruth became a registered nurse, and devoted her professional life to serve in the public schools of northern New Jersey, as a School Nurse. She threw herself, full tilt, into everything she did. This example led to Penny being the achiever she was, as well.
She could be challenging, mostly from a lifetime of having to stand up to powerful men. The number of times she set me straight could fill a small volume, but she was right, more often than not. Her voice was often the last one that my at times willful son heard, before he decided to follow directions. When there was a cultural debate over whether she was to be addressed as “Bubba”, in the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition or as “Nana”, in the British style of her youngest daughter’s in-laws, she selected “NanaBub”. That stuck for many years, until both of her grandchildren decided they liked just “Nana”.
I have had to project into a future without her voice, though there were several times, even recently, when I half-believed her saying that she would reach the century mark. That, of course, was unlikely, but I learned early on, never to count either of my mother figures out of anything.
Ruth was, above all else, one to stay close to home. She extended herself to visit east Asia, on the occasion of Aram’s birth, but after that journey to several countries, which she described as “excruciating”, no one, including her husband, could get her to leave the contiguous United States.
Now she has passed into a realm that knows no bounds. There, she is with her husband, Norm, daughter Penny, her siblings and their parents. I sense there will be peace among them, and that they will help us to recognize each other’s true worth.