Day 2005 at Jong Suk.
Thailand is the Land of Smiles but one of the most
endearing smiles you would ever see and experience was that emanating from
the blue eyes of Ruth Eastmond. One could see and feel a genuine warmth in
Ruth died after a long illness due to cancer on 6 March
2006. She was at home with her husband, David, and some of her many Chiang
Anyone who knew Ruth loved her warm and sunny
personality that was also blessed with the spirit of gentleness and
kindness, thoughtfulness and consideration for others.
When talking of her own adversity she was quick to
compare her plight with those she considered worse even than her own. Ruth
was thinking of children with HIV Aids; other people much younger than her
who had their lives cut short by serious circumstances outside of their
control. At 56, Ruth died early but, compared with many people she knew of
she thought: “At least, I had a life”.
From diagnosis to passing, a period of 21 months, Ruth
had to endure the certain knowledge that she would not recover from her
illness. This gave her plenty of time to think about the practical and
emotional problems this situation inevitably brings and she did so with an
outward appearance of cheerfulness and fortitude that was an inspiration to
all those observing it.
Even in her final days she was able to inspire her
visiting friends with the knowledge that dignity in dying was possible;
that, whilst acknowledging and at times being afraid of death, acceptance
was a way forward and this proved to be encouraging to several people who
gained an improved attitude to the inevitability of dying.
Ruth was inspiring others from the age of just one. She
was one of the first children in the world to have surgery that involved
living the rest of her life with only one kidney; she was an inspiration to
her Doctors and nurses who marvelled at her lovely nature, spirit and zest
for life! More than just a survivor from that time, she lived her life with
a continuous zest, enthusiasm and purpose right to the end.
Only three years before coming to Chiang Mai, she
undertook a degree in art at The University of Sunderland in the North East
of England. She decided her medium would be glass and passed all her
examinations with flying colours. Ruth became a skilled expert in the art
of glass sculpture and thus inspired many people of a similar age that
academic achievement was not the sole preserve of the young. In fact, Ruth
won the ‘Charles Bray’ (an eminent Glass Sculptor) award, rarely given,
a proud moment, indeed, for her.
Her work was much sought after and, today, hardly any
pieces are available or on the market. Ruth’s expertise in this subject
was taken advantage of by the University of Chiang Mai and she was able to
pass on some of her skills and knowledge to fascinated Thai students.
Disadvantaged Hill Tribe children had the chance to meet Ruth and learn
some interesting properties of glass as well as enjoying a quality
diversion from their usual day to day trials and tribulations.
While working for a large Advertising Agency (for 20th
Century Fox), Ruth won an award for her production of the famous (or
infamous) ‘Alien’ commercial: “In space no-one can hear you
Ruth was gifted in painting, collage, dressmaking and
she had a penchant for hats!! At a horse race meeting in Chiang Mai in
January 2005 she attended a ‘Ladies Day’ (Ascot style); she actually
created and wore a different hat for every race!!
Before this, Ruth and David engaged in businesses
ranging from a Health Club, a Free House, an Estate Agency for French
properties and, later, Ruth ran a dog grooming business that sustained her
love of animals.
Animals were an important part of Ruth’s life and many
unfortunate creatures became her love when she saw them in adverse
circumstances. As recently as last year she found a puppy running after
motorbikes and after failing to find its owner, promptly took it home and
cared for it until a new home could be found. That female dog now lives
with a safe and happy future.
Also in the last year, Ruth had an unusual request for
her birthday. She wanted to learn how to care for an elephant. She attended
a mahout course over three days that enabled her to ride, bathe and
generally understand how elephants live and behave. She loved every minute
of it and she found herself bonding immediately to her charge for three
days and nights; this time, she being inspired.
For nearly thirty years Ruth was a devoted and loyal
wife to David. She leaves him with a void that is impossible to fill. For
David and the rest of us we have fond and loving memories of a special
person whose example in life casts a light that will shine within us for
A memorial to celebrate Ruth’s life will take place at a venue to be
announced and will follow the Buddhist tradition of allowing 100 days to
pass so the event is likely to be on Wednesday, 14 June.