I’m not dead because of my mother. If you want to know how I’m not dead, you have to start with her.
My mother was born in 1941, in the middle of World War II, and she was named after her mother, who died when she was six months old. My grandmother was Jewish and she came from Austria, but there is no one left who remembers all that anymore. There are only stories about how hard it was for her growing up and then being forced out of her home and sent to a different country.
My mother’s name was Ruth but no one ever called her that except for my father and me. She looked like a Ruth but she had this beautiful name: Ronnie. She always wanted things to be beautiful so she would go around our house picking up socks and putting them away in drawers or folding clothes on top of dressers so they wouldn’t get wrinkled.
She had an obsession with cleanliness that sometimes got out of control. I remember once when I was little, we were driving somewhere together and she pulled over because she saw a piece of trash on the side of the road — a cigarette butt or something like that — and insisted on picking it up even though there were no other cars around us.
Last modified: October 13, 2022