September 1999

A mother’s sacrifice

By Don J. Snyder
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At the age of 47, Don Snyder kneels at the grave of his mother. A line of geese crosses the sky. He is embarrassed to speak out loud, but he does. I don't know where you are, Peggy. Of Time and Memory is a unique book, a biography of a mother written by a son who never knew her. Peggy Snyder died when Don and his twin brother were 16 days old, and the tragedy so affected their father Dick that he locked the memory of Peggy away. He remarried, worked until retirement, and now has developed a brain tumor. This pending loss makes his son Don begin to ask questions about his mother, questions that result in this book.

Dick Snyder returned from World War II and began work as a printing press operator. He saw a picture of Peggy on the desk of her father, who worked beside him. He fell in love with the picture, and then with the girl. Peggy was only 18, a recent high school graduate who dreamed of moving to New York. But Dick won her heart, and then her hand in marriage. Ten months later she gave birth to twin sons. Sixteen days afterwards, she died.

In Of Time and Memory, Don Snyder tells his own story, as well as the love story of his parents, a love story that outlives them. He calls it an unremembered love story, true in every aspect, preserved behind the heavy door that was closed against the terrible sadness of its end.

Peggy gave birth to twin sons and then died from a condition known as preeclampsia. Her parents, her sister, and his father blamed her doctor for her untimely death. By researching and writing this book, the author discovers the truth: that Peggy's doctor told her of her dangerous condition at the beginning of her pregnancy and warned her that the only treatment for the condition was to take the fetuses no later than the end of her second trimester, before she became too sick to recover.

Peggy made the decision to carry her sons to term, giving them life while sacrificing her own. Of Time and Memory becomes more than the love story of the author's parents. Though he never knew her, Don Snyder finds that he loves Peggy too.

David Sinclair is a former English Literature teacher.

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