Two are Better than One: The Story of “Ebony & Ivory”

This reflection is inspired by a 1987 New York Times human interest story about two elderly women who found true friendship through their disabilities…

Ruth Eisenberg had been an accomplished pianist and teacher until she had a stroke in 1982 and became disabled on the left side of her body. Margaret Patrick, grew up in Harlem and was an accomplished pianist and choir director, but a stroke rendered her speechless and unable to use the right side of her body.

Both women began physiotherapy at the Southeast Senior Center for Independent Living in Englewood, New Jersey. One day when Ruth was tinkling away at the piano with her one good hand, and feeling very sorry for herself, a program director sat Margaret down beside her at the piano and said “Why don’t you two try to get together?”

Ruth relates the beginning of this unusual friendship, “And immediately we got to talking about Chopin. And then we sat down at the piano and played Chopin’s ‘Minute Waltz’.

I played the treble with my right hand; she played the bass with her left. I was elated to play my music again, and we found out we knew all the same pieces.”

Eventually they started playing together for birthdays and functions and at other nursing homes. A local reporter dubbed the two “Ebony and Ivory” (Ruth was Jewish and Margaret was Black) and the name stuck. The two have been featured on tv programs, numerous papers, journals and books (Such as Chicken Soup for the Soul). They are a testimony to the Scriptures that declare…

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor  Eccesiastes 4:9


What qualities are important to you in a good friend?


How do your close friends help you to be more complete?