Es ist so ungerecht.
It was an almost normal day, came from nightshift, lay asleep until afternoon, run some errands. Accidentially saw the death announcments and learned that Ruth died on the 28th, fiftysomething she was.
Back in stoneage when I started studying here my first subject was classical archaeology. It was my mother’s wish, she was a learned porcellaine-painter and knew all about pottery. I still own a few pieces she designed and hand-made that never went into production. Ruth was already at the institute, maybe in her fourth semester, very friendly and sympathisch – congenial, likable. In those days many people there were pretty highnosed, it was after all a rich children’s study with an elitist air; I did not stay there for too long, four semesters, than I went back to my history of the middle ages and later discovered “Volkskunde” or European Ethnology as it is called today.
Ruth stays with archaeology and lives it, ein wissenschaftliches Leben. It was still possible to finish without the Magister Artium and go straight for the Doctor philosophiae what she did successfully. In fact she won one of the very few travel-stipendia from the DAI (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, German Archeological Institute) which has stations around the Mediterranean. The best of a year are allowed to travel around from place to place, stay for a while and participate in the work – a high recognition of one’s value for the profession. She came back to Wuerzburg, became member of the institute as Privatdozent and later earned a professorship. I remember that she was called once on a chair but refused to go, sooner or later she would have become the head here. A small round person, with a round face under curly hair, wearing round glasses, I remember most her friendliness.
The institute is connected to a very good collection of Greek pottery and she was the force behind activities that brought more public consciousness to that. She initiated a series of lectures and activities about monsters and mythological creatures that turned to children to bring them in the museum and the Residenz. We saw cheap “Sandalen-Filme” (oily musclemen in shorts) in the Toscanasaal, it was fun and helped to sweep dust from the all too serious scientific approaches – all long before the new elitist “Exzellenz“-blabber of today.
She made it possible that I had my first public lecture about “Melusine” and other beings. It was a catastrophe: I forgot my script (yeah! drove back home, had to explain that I do not have to pay to come in, but got my five marks back after the show), had not checked the room before so was a little insecure where to stand, and naturally in the middle of the action the projector’s bulb broke. My professor had told me to carry a second one (“Always have a look at the room, always make sure you have a bulb, always speak to the caretaker and make friends with him/her!”) and I found myself speaking about unseen pictures. Ruth organized a second projector but for some reason the brilliant colour-negatives we had taken together out of books and from objects could now be seen only stampsize. Anyway I spoke free and grabbed my audience, after that I can stand in front of a crowd and speak no matter what happens.
Ruth and me saw each other now and then in the city, if I had to do something in the Residenz I always checked by. Her younger sister is a colleague of mine she runs a museum somewhere south. Strangely enough I never knew and never heared of the family’s men, they seemingly did not exist, I always heared about or learned to know women of this family: small, round with black curly hair.
I do not know what happened, I only know that she is dead now.
I will phone her sister, sometime later.
I burried my family from end of the eighties to the beginning of the nineties. Do I have to burry my friends now one by one? Media in vita in morte sumus – i slowly understand it better.