April 24, 2013

One last move for a beloved mother

By Robert Benson
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The delightful Miss Peggy—singer, writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, loving mother, treasured friend—has spent most of her life moving. As her son, Robert, recollects his family’s nomadic ways, he recalls that Miss Peggy has lived in 19 homes over the course of her life. With grace, humor and love, he warmly and tenderly tells us the story of moving her to a new home and a new life in Moving Miss Peggy.

As neighbors, co-workers, friends and family start to notice Miss Peggy’s forgetfulness and actions that could endanger her and others, Benson and his family get together to discuss how best to move her. Anyone living with a family member afflicted with dementia will recognize the slow, sometimes humorous, mostly painful, but eventually redemptive process of making big and little decisions that involve slowly taking away a loved one’s independence.

Benson’s brother Michael, a pastor, visits his mother in order to persuade her to give up driving. “He seemed always to find the right words to persuade her that the next thing that had to be done was the right thing to do, not just for her family but for her own sweet self.” As difficult as surrendering her car keys and her independence is for her, “giving up the burden of it may well have been a gift.”

Finding a new home for Miss Peggy prompts several questions, such as “Can you see your mother living there?” and “Can you see yourself going there to see her?” Once the family locates the right place, they begin the process of packing and moving, hauling away objects that will be divided among family members, strangers and the trash, all of which represent memories of home and mother for them. In the midst of their efforts to move Miss Peggy, Benson discovers that “if we could each do what we did best, there might just be enough to go round to be all the things Miss Peggy might need her children to be for her. Wherever two or three, or even four of us, were gathered, Someone More would be among us.”

Settled in her new place, Miss Peggy’s wandering days seem to be over. Yet, Benson reflects, “in another way, her wandering days have just begun. She has begun to wander her way into a new life, and she will spend a portion of the rest of her life wandering and wondering her way along from day to day, singing more and more about the sea.”

Benson is a graceful storyteller, and his elegant little meditation offers a powerful parable on the unity of a family coming together to face loss with love and courage.

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Moving Miss Peggy

Moving Miss Peggy

By Robert Benson
Abingdon Press
ISBN 9781426749575

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