Ruth McLeman (nee
01/01/1950 - 19/02/2002
A Personal Tribute by Andrew McLeman on 20/02/02
Picture circa 1996
Ruth died on 19th February 2002, aged only 52,
following a short illness and a long battle against the effects of her alcohol
and yet despite everything, she was truly loved deeply to the very end
and will be a huge loss to both me and our sons Ewan and Neill. The
sadness is only tempered by the knowledge that her own and some of
our suffering has ended.
As very nearly the first baby of the
second half of the 20th century Ruth was always destined to
make an impact on our lives. She was brought up by her mother alone
with the help of her grandfather, spending
all her childhood in Maryhill, Glasgow. She excelled at school
(North Kelvinside HS) and following sailing through her 'Highers' in
her 5th year decided to leave to take up a job as a clerical
assistant in the Inland Revenue rather than continue for a sixth
year at school.
She was excellent at her job and was
soon promoted to Tax Officer and then Tax Officer Higher Grade, and
then groomed as 'a high flyer' and offered training to become an
Inspector at the very early age of 22. As this would have meant
being flexible about being mobile and inevitably being sent to
London she decided that she would turn the offer down as she was by then
soon to be married. We had met me when we were both still at
school, and we have been together without a break since that time.
We were married in November 1973 in Wellington
Church, Glasgow starting our married life in new house in Larbert,
Stirlingshire, as I was working at a branch office in
Falkirk at the time. While she commuted to Glasgow by train
initially, she then got the chance to transfer to the Stirling
Tax Office and therefore reduce her commuting time. She spent about five happy
years there and again as she was so well thought of
and a capable group leader, she was even reconsidering the renewed offer
of promotion to Inspector. This thought
was however interrupted by the news of the arrival of our first son
Ewan who was born in October 1979, and she decided to permanently
resign from the Revenue to become a full time housewife and
As I was by then working back in Glasgow and
her work ties with Stirlingshire had now been severed, we moved house
back to the West, settling in Milton of Campsie, near Kirkintilloch
in 1980. Neill was born in February 1982 and we lived very happily
there till 1989 when we moved East again to Mid Calder, again due
to my work as I had taken the opportunity to run my firms office in
For a couple of years before we left Milton of
Campsie, Ruth had returned to work part time, working for the 'other
side' in the tax department of Chartered Accountants Spicer and Peggler (who
later became Johnston Bannerman McLay). Again here
she became a valued employee and with mutual regret parted with them
when we moved East in 1989
On moving East she got a job, again part time,
almost immediately with Accountants Fraser George in Edinburgh, and as always
she soon became a valued employee for two years before taking up a
similar part time position much closer to home in charge of the tax
department of local West Calder accountancy firm of Brian
Maloney and Co. and who she was with approximately five years. Apart
form a couple of short spells she had preferred to always work
part time, so she would always be there for the boys when they came
home from school. She had not worked much over the last couple of
years but did manage to hold down and enjoy a dental receptionist's
job for six months or so at the time I started my own surveying
We can look back on many happy years and
holidays that include a 'magnet' down to Cornwall , about
five years with our caravan including trips to France and all over
Scotland, and more
recently numerous trips to most of the Mediterranean islands
(especially Crete) on the
'less effort' package type she enjoyed so much.
Its hard to say when her dependence to alcohol
started - there were perhaps hints over ten years ago that there
might be a problem however it really only surfaced fully about 8
years ago. And in the middle of that time she had, for example, after
treatment stayed completely 'dry' for over nine months and put her
life back on track, and could be perfectly good for long periods at
others. Its perhaps too easy to remember the times of hurt and disappointment
over these positives. It however increasingly became a greater
battle against health and relationships because of the
drinking and the ability for us all to 'keep this secret'.
Contributory factors were the strain of her mothers long illness and
death, where she seemed for no good reason have deep feelings
of guilt and regret, and an almost fruitless search for her unknown
father was perhaps also another factor.
It is a regret that so many friendships understandably
disappeared over this period, however despite everything the boys
and my own love and support never diminished. We had times of real
pain but we never gave up trying. She had ultimately nearly broken
her dependence but by then the damage had been done.
Prolonged drinking to excess damages the liver
and other organs, however since last summer she had in addition
reduced her food intake to almost nothing and this resulted in
general weakness an a spell in hospital over Christmas and New Year,
she also had developed a skin condition related to her liver
problems which covered her body in a terrible red rash. Despite now
drinking only moderately, unknown to everyone including the almost
daily treatment for her skin by the District Nurses, she was losing
body temperature very gradually until parts of her mental process
and body began to 'shut down', She was re-admitted to St John's
hospital on Monday 18th where hypothermia was then diagnosed with a body
temperature 10 degrees less than normal due to the excessive loss
heat through the skin, but despite efforts to
reverse her temperature and due to a very low blood pressure and non existent
platelet count the hospital were powerless to stop the progressive
shutdown of her organs, and other than treat her with morphine to ease
the pain there was little else that could by then be done. She passed away peacefully on Tuesday
just before 6.00 pm with her family at her bedside.
We tried 'everything' but the addiction
always finally beat all our efforts. It has been a strain and we have
survived, many happy memories thankfully intact.
She never really understood my love of the
internet and would probably have hated the fact that it was being
used for a tribute especially one that laid bare the aspects of her
life that she knew herself was systematically destroying
relationships and friendships, but just couldn't stop.
We remember the good times, there were so many
along with the not so good, she will be loved forever by us all. She is at
peace now and we must rebuild our lives. For all that knew her she
valued her many friendships, and we know she never stopped
loving us all, and we have always loved her. She was so extremely
proud of Ewan and Neill and how so well they turned out, may their
lives continue to be a living testimonial of her achievement.
Writing this, while painful, has helped
"I will love you always"
Ruth's funeral will
be held at the Pentland Chapel at Mortonhall Crematorium, Edinburgh
on Friday 22nd February 2002 at 09:10 am
An extremely proud
moment in Ruth's recent life was seeing Ewan Graduate from St Andrews University
only last year.
friend sent this poem which has helped at this sad time
"COURAGE" or *"Remember Me"
can shed tears that she has gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.
heart can be empty because you can't see her,
Or you can be full of the love you shared.
can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
can remember her, and only that she's gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
Or you can do what she'd want,
Smile, open your eyes, love, and go on.
*POSTCRIPT - This poem was
co-incidentally used by the Queen on the cover of the Order of
Service at The Queen Mothers' funeral held on 9th April 2002.
click this link to
read the articles and how 'we' got a mention on the front page of
"The Times" on 11th April 2002. - www.mcleman.org/times.html
- This page also includes correspondence between me and *David
Harkins - the original Author of the poem (actually titled
"Remember Me") in August 2002
This kind tribute was posted on Steve and Chase
Gallienís website on 20th Feb 2002
was a very important part of some very special memories for us.
We are so sad about the passing of
January 1st, 1950 - February 19th, 2002
Ruth died Tuesday evening after a long battle with illness.
Our hearts go out to her husband, Andrew
and her boys, Ewan & Neill.
consider ourselves lucky to have had her in our wedding
to have known her at all.
OTHER TRIBUTES (added 11/4/02)
Firstly on behalf of
Ewan Neill and myself I must thank the many friends who wrote cards
, letters or e-mails expressing sympathy and support,
Thanks to you all - your messages were all of great help to allow us
to move forward in a positive fashion - Andrew
From them all, and there
were so many, - I have extracted some of the particular comments
made on Ruth's life
"She was far too young and vibrant to have
her life end there"
"..thankfully Ruth left you two great boys
who will support you at this time"
"I shall always remember Ruth as a most
lovely person. While she was my boss she was also my friend. She was
clearly very clever and always helpful to myself and other
"The sadness is such a contrast to the
happy summer days at St Andrews when we last saw you both"
"I remember her with affection as
she was so helpful to me when I started in the Tax Office - Happy
"We will always remember Ruth as the life
and soul of the party"
"Ruth was such a warm, vibrant person. I
couldn't help remembering the happy times we spent with you at
Larbert and Milton of Campsie. We always had such a relaxed evening
with a lot of laughter"
"We will always remember Ruth with
affection and our hearts go out to you at this sad time"
"It's a great tribute to you both that the
boys have done so well"
again to everyone who wrote !-------------------
It is also surprising how
many people have also 'opened up' to reveal how alcoholism has
touched their own families and their 'particular' understanding has
been very helpful.
Follow this link to "The
Times" article on the the search for the author of the poem as
also used at the Queen Mothers Funeral in April 02 www.mcleman.org/times.html
Email: * firstname.lastname@example.org
*sorry this e-mail is not now an "automatic"
link and so we would ask you to simply to copy/paste it into an e-mail
header- (the reason is that spammers and virus originators are now
trawling the internet and using these e-mail links to send their
messages and/or viruses as if they came from us!)