WHEN YOU DIE… what do you want people to remember about you?

By Duncan

I received an e-mail from my sister that a woman I knew, and was very good friends with my parents, was close to death. She was under hospice care and Becky, my sister, was keeping track of the posts about her life on Facebook.


Ruth Gibson was married to Bud. I didn’t know Bud, her husband, that well. He died early on in my life from a tragic accident. He was mowing his sizable lawn and the lawn tractor rolled on him.

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I was young at that time. I do remember when he was alive Ruth and Bud would have Saturday morning brunch and Ruth asked me one Saturday morning if I wanted a cup of coffee. I had never tasted coffee before and I told her so. She poured me a cup and said, “Give it a try.” Needless to say, I had not acquired a taste for coffee. I still remember to this day thinking how can people drink this stuff?


The Gibson’s and my parents, the Duncan’s were close and attended the the same Baptist church on Michigan Road in Indianapolis. I, of course, was an active youth in the church.

Ruth placed a phone call to my mother one day. It seemed one of Ruth’s daughters, Linda, was going to be involved in a very ritualistic ceremony at a Job’s Daughters function and needed an escort.

The Order of Job’s Daughters purpose is to band together young girls who are related to a Master Mason, and strives to build character through moral and spiritual development. Goals include a greater reverence for God and the Holy Scriptures, as stated in the Job’s Daughters Constitution, loyalty to one’s country and that country’s flag, and respect for parents, guardians, and elders. Job’s Daughters is not a religion or a creed, and its members are not required to practice a particular religion. Members are required, however, to believe in a supreme being. Job’s Daughters is not a secret society.

So here comes the call. Ruth needs me, a very young man, (I’m really nothing more than a boy) with zero experience at… what should we call this request, a date? Oh, I see Mom, it’s not really a date, I’m an escort. An escort! Why are my mother and father laughing?

My mother being a personal and very close friend of Ruth, is offering up her only male child to this young girl named Linda at one of the most important moments in this girl’s life and I am to navigate through this event like a pro. I was schooled very quickly on the event and how to act. I remember thinking at the time; I don’t know this girl, why did they pick me? Why me! Being the dutiful child that I was, I must have caved and agreed to do whatever my mother told me I had to do. I don’t remember much about it, except Mom purchased me a dark dress suit. I then remember standing up front somewhere watching Linda with a long red and gold velvet robe over her shoulders. I thought at the time, this event is way over my head.

Ruth was very happy with my performance and Mom was happy that Ruth was happy.

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Ruth Gibson wishing my Dad, George R Duncan a happy 90th birthday.

We need to jump forward a few years in this story. From time to time I went back to Crooked Creek Baptist Church and saw Ruth and we gave each other a hug and she said things like… “Oh, Stephen how are you? Tell me about yourself. ” She always was wearing a cap and I thought she looked great in her caps. I would tell her so, “Ruth, you look wonderful in that chapeau.” She would tap my arm and say, “Oh, you.”

Then I turned the tables and ask her how she was getting along and her mood change instantly. She was not happy with where she was living. To change the subject and get her thinking about something fun, I suggested that we have lunch and she seemed excited about idea of being able to get out of the house and go to a restaurant. It was a date. It was obvious she liked the nicer restaurants, The Cheese Cake Factory, L A Café and the Garrison Room on the campus of Fort Benjamin Harrison. She looked forward to getting out of the house. As she progressed in years she just wanted to get out! Someplace “out”, nothing fancy she said. So we began to hit the pizza places and the sandwich shops.

As she continued to look for less expensive housing, she asked if she could store some of her prized possessions and belongings. I told her I had attic space that was just the right size for her stuff and it wouldn’t be a problem. Box after box of dishes, and who knows what all, were stored in my attic for years. Lisa Gibson Otto, her other daughter, came to the house one day and removed the boxes. She and her husband were going to take care of Ruth.

I lost track of Ruth these last few years until Becky, my sister, wrote me an email late in the day stating Ruth was close to leaving this world. The next morning I woke up at 6:00 AM and I was wide awake. My mind went immediately to Ruth. I sensed she was either close to leaving or had left. I had this feeling she was not part of this earth anymore. I lay in bed for a few minutes and went through all the moments we enjoyed together, all the way back to my first date with Linda, right up to our last lunch together.

How do I want to remember Ruth? Ruth had style, Ruth enjoyed and gravitated to the finer things in life and Ruth expected life to accommodate her. She was Royalty after all. I liked that about her… and she also looked great in a cap!

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The simple pleasure of doing your own shopping.


Matt the hospice nurse sings gently as Ruth Gibson releases and leaves this earth.

About the author

Stephen A and Scott Duncan publish "ByDuncan.com" Scott photographs (Duncan Photography) and is the guy who keeps this site running. Steve (left) is a photographer (Duncan Photography) and writes to "ByDuncan.com"