Thursday, July 4, 2024

Raising a glass to Peg

Today would have been my friend (since I was six) Peg's eightieth birthday. As a kid I always remembered it, of course, because it was the Fourth of July. This birthday is so bittersweet because she just left us all two short days ago. I'm still in that place where I don't quite believe it. When I want to honor someone, if only just for myself, whether it be for their passing or their birthday, I tend to search their name in my partially-digitized diary, looking for passages I can pull out and maybe share. or maybe just read through. Memories I've forgotten. I started doing that this morning, poking around through my computer, looking at little mentions of her, but then I ran out of time and had to get on the clock for work.

The other night, Stephen was telling me a special Peg memory of his, which he also shared on a loved one's post on Facebook today, about an evening when we had Peg over for dinner:

The three of us sat outside and had a lovely meal. When we asked her what wine she wanted to drink, she told us that she never drank wine in this country, that she only drank wine in Europe; she thought the wine you could get here was way inferior to what you could get there. So, no thank you! I got such a kick out of that; that was so HER.

I loved that little snippet of memory. And I mentioned it to my mom just now on the phone. And she told me that years ago, when she and my dad introduced Peg to Australian wine (we lived in Melbourne for a few years when I was very young), it was the same: Peg loved it so much she decided that she'd only want to drink Australian wine. 

Funny, when I got off the phone with Mom, I jumped back on my diary search, poking around my old journals and looking for Peg's name, and this came up. It's not a memory of Peg per se. It's Peg's memory of my dad. One that she shared in a long email thread I started back in 2020 after my dad died, wanting to collect stories about him. This was Peg's offering, and she told it because she was thinking about Dad, but I would like to share it, thinking about her. She said:

I have so many stories to share. My fondue story is one of them. It was the adults having fondue one evening. Everyone had left the table except Don and me. He had opened a bottle of Wynn’s Cabernet and he and I finished it off and maybe opened another. It was wonderful wine and I credit him with introducing me to its charms. He saved his last bottle of Wynn’s for my 40th birthday some years later because he remembered how much I loved it. I still have the empty bottle, even though you can hardly read the label.

Mara can tell you how I never stopped talking about that wine, to the point that she was compelled one Christmas to import a few bottles for me!

There are many more stories that show how much I loved that man. He was one of a kind and will never be forgotten.❤

I kind of love that sentence, "I credit him with introducing me to its charms." I love the whole passage because it's a memory of my dad and a memory of Peg, not to mention my lovely friend Mara, but also because it's so full of Peg's voice. Like she said about Dad, she was a one of a kind and never to be forgotten. And though I don't have any European wine or any Australian wine, and though I'm sipping on a two-hour-old peanut smoothie that's gloopy and half separated, I do raise a glass to her. A woman of class and grit and humor and a woman who knew what she liked. Like this other tiny memory I came across, from my diary back in 1985:

Of course the 2nd thing that made the day good was the Everly Brothers concert. It was really great. Let me see…what did they sing? “Bye Bye Love”, “Bird Dog”, “Kathy’s Clown”, “On the Wings of a Nightengale”, “Wake up Little Suzie”, “All I have to do is dream”, “Claudette”, “Be Bop alula”, Oh so much! And it was great! I got myself a t-shirt & a poster which is a collage of their albums & magazine covers. Peg got a copy of a tape that was a concert they did in ’83 which was very similar to ours.

We came home with the top of Dad’s convertible down and Peg’s tape blaring “Claudette”, “Bye Bye Love”, “Bird Dog” out of the speakers.

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