Lindsay Gill: Losing my friend

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Losing my friend

I wanted to share this because my friend Peggy meant so much to me.  She passed away on October 27, 2013 at the age of 102, and I had the honor to speak at her funeral.

"As I stood in line at the grocery store, Bengay in one hand and doughnuts in the other, I contemplated the true meaning of friendship.  I reached in my wallet to pay the clerk, and I answered the silent question she wanted to ask, "They are for my friend," I whispered.

My friend likes Doublemint gum, and has a collection of chewed pieces stuck under the kitchen table where she sits for most of each day.  Every Saturday and Sunday, she leaves the garage door of her pale yellow house open in anticipation of my arrival.  Many times, she sends me to Subway to buy her favorite meatball grinder on rye.  She prefers a drink with exactly one part ginger ale, two parts cranberry juice, with a bendable straw.  She wears red nail polish and a felt hat to church each Sunday, and watches the inspirational channel for the remaining days.  My friend uses a walker as a result of two falls--once in the church parking lot, the other when a swinging door knocked her down.  She loves "country apple" home spray and collects the pictures that aspiring politicians send her.  My friend is 102 years old.

I met Peggy on my first week serving Meals on Wheels during the summer of 2004.  She had just lost her older sister and housemate, Sue, so I decided that I would spend some time talking with her about her loss.  Peggy explained that though she missed her sister, she was confident that God had a plan for everything and would someday bring them together in Heaven.  Peggy enjoyed our conversations that ranged from our mayonnaise preferences to the newly elected Pope, and she suggested that I visit her more often. When I heat up her dinner or take out the trash, I love to hear Peggy reminisce about her several brothers and sisters going to church "like a line of ducks."  Dedicated to lifelong learning, Peggy graduated from college and received advanced teaching degrees at two other colleges.  I am both encouraged to learn as much as I can, and reminded to appreciate my family and friends as she does.

I share Peggy's belief that God sent me to her, but to benefit us both.  The summer volunteer work through Meals on Wheels has evolved into lessons on patience, joy, responsibility, discipline, and most of all a deeper meaning of friendship.  Friendship is not exclusive to age or ailments, and I hope that Peggy could breathe a little easier because of me.  Sometimes I wonder if her stories are true.  Maybe she really is 39 years old, and maybe she really does still teach math at my former high school.  Regardless, I will always value the experience that knowing her has given me, and cherish the time I spent with this wise and accomplished woman."

Rest in Peace, Peggy, I love you.

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