Dearest Ruthy -
When I checked my emails this morning, I found several folks had forwarded the email your daughter, Iris, sent out* informing us of the stroke you had last week.
My thoughts were suddenly swirling. First, I remember when we first met in the Hampshire College gym during the Amherst training; now I’m flashing on how your lessons — on cassette and in the notes from your Boulder workshop on developmental movement — were so important to my formation. I also recall working together over the years: the summer you came to Strasbourg to teach in the training and another summer when I taught in your program in Florence. The conferences we attended together and all those hours we spent in trainer and assistant trainer meetings; these remembrances stand out as well.
Each of these memories illuminates your contribution to my development, personally and professionally. For instance, I’ll never forget when, during the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America (FGNA) conference in Santa Cruz, I participated in your workshop about the jaw. That was the first time I’d done an Awareness Through Movement® lesson standing against a wall; I still remember my delight at your creativity. To this day, I’m grateful for you breaking past the limits I’d imposed on the method.
But there’s more to that time: I also can’t forget how, while driving the notoriously winding highway to graduate school that night, I felt my jaw muscles habitually tensing and, a second later, how it disappeared when I suddenly and irreversibly realized that my response was no longer necessary.
Then there was the FGNA conference in Montreal, Canada, when you attended the workshop I was giving. Though you were my teacher — and the teacher of so many of the other folks in the room — you didn’t stand on your position of authority. Instead, you participated as a member of the class, listening, engaging with others during the exercises as a peer instead of as an expert, and asking genuine and sincere questions. I am, to this day, still touched by the trust and support I experienced.
I also remember a convivial evening during that training segment in Italy when you joined the trainees, me, and other faculty members for a Florentine feast at a local pizzeria. That dinner was another time I realized how your way of being with us demonstrated, in word and action, how much you genuinely cared about and for your students. Your dedication to us, both to our individual learning and to creating community, along with your abiding generosity, rings true through all of my recollections.
So many of us know, all too well, how some members of our profession can be less than kind. Your efforts were, let’s say, not always appreciated. Yet that never deterred you. I won’t forget how, even though some of them had ridiculed you for taking notes during the Tel Aviv training, you were kind enough to share those notes with your former classmates when they asked for them after Moshe’s passing.
I’m sending you this, a photo of a rose from my garden, the last to bloom this year, to let you know how much you mean to me. Your example, the way you have walked the walk as well as you talked the talk, is one I strive to live up to every day.
*Here’s the letter from Ruthy Alon’s daughter:
To all of Ruthy’s friends, students, and teachers
A letter from Iris, Ruthy’s daughter.
Ruthy had a stroke a week ago. She is at home, as she made sure in her life to have no interference or life-prolonging drugs. She is comfortable and without physical pain. She is aware of what has happened to her and as you can imagine, for someone whom their body was their teacher and expression - it is desperately sad for her not being able to move freely.
She recognises us and communicates by feint few words and a limited hand movement.
She is accepting and calm and beautiful in her serenity.
She is never alone, looked after by her gentle carer and myself.
Unfortunately, most of Ruthy’s family (who are in the UK and USA) cannot come because of COVID restrictions.
Still, it is a very private journey.
I will update you. Many asked to help and be assured I’ll reach out if we need anything. It is a spiritual path done rather than witnessed.
Sending love and light,
You are free to resend to others who know Ruthy.