Yesterday was much ado about 10-10-10. There were more weddings than usual and probably some induced births, scheduled to take advantage of the memorable binary date.

On our way to church, my husband and I were listening to a rerun of a Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown on satellite radio. The date flashing across the car radio screen was 10-10-70. We commented on each song and what we remembered about it. On 10-10-70, my husband had begun his senior year of college. I was in fifth grade.

All of a sudden, I remembered exactly what I was doing on 10-10-70. I have included here a page from my diary on that date 40 years ago.

I was on vacation in Rome with my parents and grandparents—my mother’s parents, Nanny and Grandaddy, and my father’s widowed mother, Nana Marie. Nana Marie was my roommate on the trip.

The diary page tells the short version of the story and this blog really doesn’t lend itself to a much longer version. But it happened like this. Rome was the third and final city of our European trip and we had arrived by train from Zürich late the night before. The six of us did some sightseeing in the morning. My mother, her mother and I went back to the hotel to rest, while my father, his mother and my grandfather walked over to look at the Vatican, a sight Nana Marie had waited her whole Catholic life to see.

Later that afternoon, my father and grandfather returned to the hotel, looking grim. They broke the news that, after they turned the corner at St. Peter’s Square, my grandmother looked up at the Vatican in awe, quoted a verse from her childhood catechism book and collapsed. Minutes after arriving at the hospital by ambulance, she died. She was 52 days away from her 60th birthday.

October 10th isn’t an anniversary I observe regularly; just when I happen to remember it. Thanks to Casey Kasem and Sirius XM, I saw the reminder in bright red numerals. 10-10-70.

I dedicate this blog post to Marie Elizabeth Perry Ruslander and all who loved her, with the Gospel words that may have been her last. Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”


Filed under Family and Friends, Travel

5 responses to “10-10-70

  1. Wow! What a crazy thing! I love looking back and seeing where I was during different times of my journal entries – it’s always fascinating to see where you were and where you are now.

  2. Polly

    I have heard this story many times over the years, but never with such detail. Rest in peace, Aunt Marie. You are remembered.

  3. Jo

    Awesome. For many, many reasons, I am glad you shared it.

  4. Pat Abrams

    Monica, I remember your Mom and Dad and bringing Marie back on the plane. I also remember singing “Marie” at your house after the burial. Oh god, I remember it all.

  5. Mom

    A day I shall never forget. She lived her life with such a sense of beauty and drama, and it seemed so fitting that her passing reflected the same. It was Yom Kippur, and she died at the Vatican. Now, I ask you…..Love you, Mom Marie.

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