Grew up… leaning to bottle up her emotions. Ruth survived her abusive childhood by ignoring her feelings, but, as she ages, it becomes more difficult to bury her depression and anger. Ruth, despite her typically calm outward appearance, is prone to violent outbursts.
Living… at Fisher & Sons funeral home. Ruth has to pick up the pieces that her husband, Nathaniel Sr., left behind after his sudden death. She’s been left alone with her three confused, troubled children and a family business that must go on to support them.
Profession… homemaker. Ruth was married in 1965 after she became pregnant with her first child, Nate, who was born while her husband was serving in the Vietnam War. She has spent the majority of her life playing the role of mother, a task made even more cumbersome by the fact that she was left alone for much of it. As Ruth puts it, “If my experience is anything to go by, motherhood is the loneliest thing in the world.”
Interests… making a new life for herself. Ruth, who has often felt trapped at Fisher & Sons, has always longed for another kind of existence. She envies her younger sister Sarah, an artist.
Relationship Status… widowed. Ruth’s plain, even homely, appearance is slightly misleading. Before her husband’s death, she carried on a long affair with her hairdresser, Hiram Gunderson. In her words, “I guess we all want to be loved. It’s hard to say no to that, no matter who it’s coming from.”
Challenge… understanding herself. Ruth feels like she’s spent most of her life doing things that she never wanted to do. Now that her sons are taking over the family business, Ruth can dedicate her time to figuring out her purpose in life.
Personality… old-fashioned and slightly uptight. Ruth is a loving, caring mother who just doesn’t understand her children. Her youngest daughter, Claire, confuses Ruth’s seemingly cold demeanor for hostility. “I don’t hate you,” Ruth explains to Claire, “I hate your choices.”
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