I first met Peggy in the lunchroom of Top of the World Elementary. She had moved to the West Coast to be with her new husband and was substituting at our school. Being an excellent educator, she became part of our permanent staff. Peggy had a habit of getting to the core of what was important and not wasting time on the other stuff. Her class loved her, feeling nurtured and wanting to please her. I saw her make inroads with children when breakthroughs did not seem possible.
As time passed, we became friends walking the harbor, munching scones, and sharing our life stories. She told me she and her East Coast friends had been part of a study regarding women and happiness. Researchers learned it was not about wealth, marital status, or motherhood. The quality of a woman’s friendships with other women determined her happiness. And Peggy was and is a very good friend. She accompanied me to the doctor, supporting me silently through a nail-biting appointment. After surgery, when I was terrified, Peggy dropped everything to stay with me, so I would not be afraid. I remember her quietly brewing a cup of tea, and us talking until I could finally sleep.
When Peggy retired from teaching, she and her Love escaped the craziness of Southern California and returned to the East Coast buying property on a country lane from Farmer Jones. A trip of goats and a dog named Shredder completed their menagerie.
A couple of years ago, I went to visit. Peggy drove me to Fort Ticonderoga with its panoramic views of Lake Champlain, a place I had only read about in school. We shopped at the Vermont Store, reliving our childhoods in Raggedy Ann dolls and munching old fashioned candy. She showed me Hildene, where Lincoln’s son had once lived, and we explored the sweeping grounds, gazed at panoramic views of the colorful fall countryside, and soaked in the fascinating history. In the evening, I shared candlelight meals with Peggy and her husband, Mark. My slow eating became an on-going joke, but I just did not want those meals to end. Thought-provoking conversations, delicious food, and a very generous pour made for a day well-celebrated.
Peggy living a continent away is difficult. Our long harbor walks are far and few between, but she has reassured me she is very happy in her new life. Seeing her on Rootspring Farm, I know it is true. And honestly, how can anyone be upset about that?
Peggy is and will always be part of a Life Well-Lived.
Happy Birthday, Peggy!
M.J. Minerman writes for spinsters around the world who have "not found their lids and are pursuing lives well-lived."