Rosemead Kiwanis Club

   "Serving the Community Since 1945"






The Fax of Life

A weekly inspiration, courtesy of the Kiwanis Club of Scott's Valley

June 8, 1997                                                                                  Vol. 2,   No. 30


The Story of Margaret and Ruth


In the spring of 1983, Margaret Patrick arrived at the Southeast Senior Center for Independent Living to begin her physical therapy. As Millie McHugh, a longtime staff member, introduced Margaret to people at the center, she noticed the look of pain in Margaret's eyes as she gazed at the piano.


"Is anything wrong?" asked Millie.


"No," Margaret said softly, "It's just that seeing piano brings back memories. Before my stroke, music was everything to me. Millie glanced at Margaret's useless right hand as the black woman quietly told some the highlights of her musical career.


Suddenly Millie said, "Wait right here. I'll be back in a minute."

She returned moments later, followed closely by a small, white-haired woman in thick glasses. The woman used a walker.


"Margaret Patrick," said Millie, "meet Ruth Eisenberg."


Then she smiled. "She too played the piano, but like you she's not been able to play since her stroke. Mrs. Eisenberg has a good right hand, and you have a good left, and I have a feeling that together you two can do something wonderful."


"Do you know Chopin s Waltz in D flat?" Ruth asked. Margaret nodded.


Side by side, the two sat on the piano bench. Two healthy hands–one with long, graceful black fingers, the other with short, plump white ones–moved rhythmically across the ebony and ivory keys.


Since that day, they have sat together over the keyboard hundreds of times–Margaret's helpless right hand around Ruth s back, Ruth s helpless left hand on Margaret's knee, while Ruth's good hand plays the melody and Margaret's good hand plays the accompaniment.


Their music has pleased audiences in television, at churches and schools, and at rehabilitation and senior-citizen centers. And on the piano bench, more than music has been shared by these two. For it was there, beginning with Chopin and Bach and Beethoven, that they learned they had more in common than they ever dreamed–both were great-grandmothers and widows (Margaret's husband died in 1985, Ruth's in 1964), both had lost sons, both had much to give, but neither could give without the other.


Sharing that piano bench, Ruth heard Margaret say, "My music was taken away,

but God gave me Ruth."


And evidently some of Margaret's faith has rubbed off on Ruth as they've sat side by side these past five years, because Ruth is now saying, "It was God's miracle that brought us together."


And that is the story of Margaret and Ruth, who now call themselves Ebony and



                                                                                   ---- Margaret Patrick


[Editor's note: an absolutely true story, as chronicled in this Wikipedia article:


Wikipedia also has independent bios of both ladies.]




Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. All of its Clubs are independently-run community service groups.