Friday, August 25, 2006
My cousin Peggy passed away on Monday. She was a very young 62 year old lady. She left behind a beautiful daughter and two grandchildren and many, many friends. I went to her funeral last night and came away puzzled.
Peggy was a very special person. She was one of those folks that seemed to be blessed in all ways. She was beautiful, extremely intelligent (she had a PHD), she had several different enviable careers throughout her life and she had made a great life for herself and her daughter. She was married several times and divorced early in life and spent most of her days as a single mom and eventually a grandmother. She was a breast cancer survivor. From her obituary I thought that was what did her in. However she had a heart attack and passed on suddenly.
She was my cousin on Mom’s side of the family. Her father had died at 54 from the effects of non-filtered Camels. My Mom had married a hardworking grocery store owner. Mom’s brother, Uncle Clyde, Peggy's dad was a suit & tie kind of guy and I think he forgot his roots. He seemed somewhat snobbish when my family was around. Her mother Aunt Margaret was tall and very Southern. She was an elementary school teacher and taught my wife in the 2nd grade. She was nice but very imposing. Subsequently I was never real close to Peggy. But I certainly admired her. We went to the same high school. Peggy stood out and was respected by all.
She got her undergraduate degree and married. She and her husband joined the Peace Corp. These were the Viet Nam War years. After the Peace Corp, she went back and got several graduate degrees, went to work at a school, became pregnant, divorced and continued her education and career. I sort of lost track of her at this time.
When I go to most funerals, I expect to see the deceased with family and friends gathered, crying, hugging and reminiscing among the flowers. Peggy’s funeral was different. Peggy had been cremated and her remains were in a small decorative wooden box on a table. I supposed that I am accustomed to having one last look and give one last good-bye to my relatives and friends that have passed on.
In my careers I have done physical labor and white collar jobs. Most of my friends have similar life experiences. Peggy’s friends seemed to be a mix of old hippies that cleaned up nicely and the “education” crowd from various universities and colleges where she had worked. The only person among them that seemed visibly shaken was Peggy’s daughter, who was still obviously in shock. The Irish in me is a little more emotional than the folks that I met last night.
Peggy’s life touched and influenced many besides her immediate family. She brightened the world while she was here and left it a little better place than before she arrived.