Ruby Tuesday is one of my longest-standing clients. She gets her nickname from my second-favorite Rolling Stones song, and specifically the lyric, “Don’t question why she needs to be so free.” She is the youngest of my clients (mid-60s), but often gives me the biggest headaches and the most new gray hairs. She can also be the most entertaining and interesting.
Ruby grew up a military brat and spent a good deal of her formative years traveling, including overseas. She was raised in a popular but often misunderstood faith, and after her marriage adopted a less well-known but even more misunderstood faith. She had several professional careers and raised three children and a stepchild more or less on her own.
When her physical and mental health started to decline several years ago, the loss of her independence was devastating for her. She went from living in her own home to moving through several assisted living facilities. She moved to my city at the insistence of her daughter who lives here but rarely sees the daughter in question. I’ve observed the two of them interacting, and there’s a lot of stubbornness and intolerance on both sides. There’s also genuine love and concern. I actually told Ruby once, “You two obviously love each other, but you both have funny ways of showing it.”
Ruby can be manipulative and judgmental at times. So can we all. She’s also honest and open about what’s on her mind and how she’s feeling. Unlike some of my other clients, I don’t have to draw her out and ask, “What’s going on?” She comes right out and tells me. She delights in simple joys: a sandwich from her favorite local shop where they greet her with a “Hi honey,” her cat’s latest antics, finding the perfect gift for her granddaughter, getting a manicure. She understood when I was late one evening because I was rounding up wayward puppies. (Long story.) She laughed with me at my account of her destroyed birthday cake. (Don’t use a silicone cake pan for the first time when you’re making a cake for someone else. It will not go well.)
As crazy as she makes me, I genuinely love her. I’m grateful to be her favorite caregiver, as she often tells me.