MILLBURN, NJ - Judy Gottscho Eichinger, who grew up in Millburn, will read excerpts from her recently published book, Remembering Ruth, A Memoir of Childhood Sibling Loss, at the Millburn Free Public Library on Thursday evening, November 15th, at 7 p.m. Copies of the book will be available for purchase, and Judy will sign copies. Refreshments will be served.
Judy was two and a half when her sister, Ruth, was born with severely damaged kidneys. Ruth died at age fifteen, and for many years, Judy couldn’t mention Ruth’s name or talk about her loss. Events finally forced her to confront her feelings and work through her grief, anger, and loneliness. The book movingly captures, moment to moment, her journey from a life of despair to one of fulfillment — in the hope of helping others who lost a sibling growing up.
"Judy has taken the painful experiences from her past and turned them into a work that is powerful and healing. . . . I encourage every bereaved sibling to read it,” says Sue Klavans Simring, LCSW, Ph.D., psychotherapist, author, and Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work.
When Ruth died in 1960, Judy’s parents established The Ruth Gottscho Kidney Foundation to help others with kidney disease. A number of people from Millburn served on the board of directors.
The foundation saved many lives. In the 1960s, before Medicare provided coverage for kidney disease, dialysis became the treatment of choice. However, it was not readily available and was very expensive. The foundation bought over 100 home dialysis machines and lent them to people in New Jersey who needed this life-saving treatment but couldn’t afford it. It also paid the cost of training family members on how to use it. When a patient no longer needed the machine — because he or she had received a transplant or had died — the machine was refurbished and lent to another kidney patient.
Once Medicare coverage began in 1973, the foundation helped kidney patients in other ways. In 1975, it began a partnership with the Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskills and the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx to establish a sleep-away kidney camp program that’s still going strong today. Children get their dialysis and/or the medications they need at the Ruth Gottscho Dialysis Center on Frost Valley camp grounds. At all other times, they’re mainstreamed with healthy campers.
Judy became chair of the foundation after her mother died in 2009; her father had died in 1971. The board still meets in Millburn, and several Millburn residents serve as members. This summer was the 44th year of the kidney camp program. To date, almost 2,000 children with kidney disorders have experienced this life-enriching experience.
This program is free and open to the public, and is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Millburn Library. The Millburn Library is located at 200 Glen Ave, Millburn, NJ 07041 and can be reached at 973-376-1006.