Ruth Loretta Brian was born in the train town of Scranton Pennsylvania before television was
more than an unproven concept. Her parents were humble, a chauffeur and a scullery maid; they
met at the servant’s table. My grandfather was smitten at first sight and
pictures prove they were a beautiful couple. Unfortunately, after giving birth to a beautiful
baby girl, the child was taken by one of the diseases science now credits itself for
vanquishing. The next child was a boy, Richard. Brilliant by all accounts, Uncle Dick became an
engineer and, briefly, a sniper in World War II for which he carried shrapnel for the rest of
his life. He was the bane of my mother’s childhood for he was the perfect student, but she
loved him and he her. Mom was the third child, again a girl and so to enter into the exaggerated
protection of both parents. This amplified as each of the four successive siblings were boys,
William, Walter, Elbert, and James. Mom was born with white hair, blue eyes and very fair skin; so, it
should come as no surprise that doctors believed she was albino. Doctors were proven wrong when
her hair turned blond and curly. She kept the curls even when her hair again turned white. In
Scranton, they lived in a duplex apartment close to the gas and mechanic station my grandfather
owned. When William was born without much sight, his parents thought it too dangerous to live
in a train town. They sold everything and moved to a small house in the woods of the Pocono
mountains in a township called Abington. The house was remote and the property expansive enough
to raise children and cows. Cows became a small part of their income and was managed by my
grandmother. My grandfather returned to chauffeuring. In later days, as my mother’s dementia
became more profound, it was obvious how wonderful was this pastoral setting to her. She wanted
to return there, to her mother and father. I don’t think there was a grandchild who would not tell you it was heaven on earth.
Mom studied nursing and earned her degree from Hannemann Hospital in Scranton. From there, she
accepted a job in Port Jervis New York where her mother had been raised and where her
grandmother tended house for a prominent doctor and his wife. After that, she went into the
U.S. Army and, after some exhaustive training, found herself stationed in Hawaii. My father was
stationed as a medic at the same base, but they didn’t meet at the hospital, they met at
church. They were married and, a little more than a year later, she, in her last trimester,
was sent back to the states, to California. Hawaii was still just a territory. She was met by my
father’s parents and my father’s sister’s family. These became my parents and surrogate family
extending into many generations.
Mom’s nursing career took root in Riverside California. She worked at hospitals and nursing
homes, sometimes holding two jobs to pay the bills. My father did likewise. Two brothers
succeeded me. The first, Joel, was closer than my best friend. He died tragically in a swimming
accident. Anthony, my second brother, died within the first hour after birth. Unfortunately, I
never knew him. My parents lived in Riverside until 2005, when they moved to Laramie, another
train town. My father, who was 8 years younger than my mother, died in 2008. Mother lived
almost 16 years longer. Unfortunately, such a long life erases not only memories but also those
who shared them with you.
My mother had many friends but God always made sure, when we were traveling through New Mexico,
that the car would break down near Demming so we could spend a day with Maggie Burr, her
husband and their family. I mention it because I relied on Maggie’s obituary to identify the
school from which they both graduated.
Mom’s last hours were spent at Ivinson Memorial Hospital. They were beautiful moments as were
all the time I had with her. The staff was incredibly kind and made her last days comfortable
and meaningful to me. She died Sunday morning, October 15, 2023 at 5:30a.m., 32,507 days or 89
years to the day from when my father was born. Because I was made curious and have been reading
a Catholic Bible, I looked for its thirty-second book, chapter 5 verse 7 reads:
“For God has decreed that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be leveled and that the
valleys be filled to make level ground, so that Israel may walk securely in the glory of God.”
I decided to write an unconventional obituary, far too long but encompassing many of the ideas
that have shaped my life. I can do so only because my immediate family is now gone. I still
have love for my father and brothers though it has taken me a lifetime to understand its depth.
Mom’s many friends who should find credit here as well as my uncles and their wives and their
children are close to my thoughts and my heart. I love them and hope they do not feel excluded.
Services will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, October 23rd at Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home in Laramie, Wyoming.