(from the archives)
Her name was Rookh Richards. She lived around the block from us when I was growing up. I don’t think I’ve ever met another Rookh – by that I mean I’ve never met anyone else named Rookh, nor have I ever met anyone else like Rookh. My friend, Phil, called her Aunt Rookh as she was, in fact, his great aunt by marriage. Phil and I, along with some of our other pals hung out at Aunt Rookh’s house a great deal. She and her husband had no children, so she delighted in hosting the neighborhood kids. Her home was always open and she loved to visit, tell stories, and entertain us with candy, warm cookies and other goodies. She had a wonderful old overgrown English type garden with a small furnished living quarter at the back of it. It was always available for our use – without asking – as a play room, club house, or work space for school projects.
Even though I was just a kid and she was sort of an old woman I had this great relationship with Rookh. We had our own private jokes and funny little things we teased each other about. Every day in the late afternoon Rookh took a brisk walk around our neighborhood for exercise, so if I happened to be outside when she was on her stroll I always felt a certain excitement as I saw her approach. When she passed my way there would inevitably be a brief, but funny and delightful exchange between us which would end in laughter as she went on her way.
Did you ever know someone like that who you were always excited to see? Rookh was one of those people. She had a great attraction about her, the kind that comes from a spirit of humor, warmth, and generosity.
Sometime during my high school years Rookh’s health failed and she passed away. I recall sitting at the funeral mourning the loss of my friend, yet remembering the excitement I had felt when I would see her down the street headed my way.
What do people think about me, I sometimes wonder, when they see me headed their way? Have I touched someone’s life like Rookh did mine?