Friday, November 28, 2008
My Friend, Peggy
When I first moved to Illinois from Hawaii in 1974, I was truly wet behind the ears. I grew up in a rather idyllic landscape where we often left our doors open and parents didn't worry constantly about stranger danger. Everyone in our sugar plantation town also looked somewhat like me. Caucasians were either the "luna" (Hawaiian for manager) or on TV and the movies.
My husband, Art went to school in Peoria and was an officer in the Air Force for many years so he'd already been accustomed to a heterogeneous society. For me, however, it was an uncomfortable awakening when we traveled by car from Hawaii (California actually) to Illinois so that he could accept a job with the U.S.E.P.A. There were some towns where people openly stared. "Don't worry," he said "People are the same no matter where you go."
At E.P.A. Art met many new friends who became my friends as well and are still friends today. Beautiful people work hard to try to protect the environment.
Then we moved into a suburb north of Chicago and I came face to face with some prejudice and racism that sometimes threatened to send me scurrying back to Hawaii. However, there were so many incredible people I met who were as welcoming and loving as ever I could have hoped for. I actually have a lot of stories about those people.
Then I met Peggy. She and her husband moved in within 6 months of the time we moved into our little neighborhood. We became immediate friends. Some things are just meant to be. I don't know who called who first but I remember it getting dark and my not noticing as we talked and talked about anything and everything. Peggy was sunshine and still is. She is optimistic and open to everybody. Her third child and my second were born within nine days of each other. She was the one who encouraged me to learn how to drive and then took me to get my license. Peggy was also the one who drove my son and me to the hospital when he broke his arm. We babysat each other's children and bolstered each other through any of life's tribulations. I thought we would be neighbors until we were old and gray.
But life doesn't always stay the same. I went back to work teaching and then, when I least expected it, she and her family moved to California. However, we never lost contact. I knew what she was doing and though there were lapses at times, we could easily pick up where we left off.
Now after living in several places, she's moved back to Illinois and I have suddenly moved back to Hawaii. Life can be so ironic!
Now I've learned that she has leukemia. I didn't want to mention it in my post until I knew that she had informed her children. Now I can, and I would like to ask you all to visit Peggy at Musings of Meggie to hold her hand and help her through this hurdle as all of you and she kept my spirits up as I went through my thyroid cancer scare. She is not able to post very much just because she has a lot on her plate now but I know she checks her site and loves anything that anybody writes.
Here I am now after so many years of living in Illinois and I see that I've grown a bit more comfortable in my own skin. I no longer see the differences in people as something unfathomable or disconcerting but as a beautiful, intriguing part of our world to be enjoyed, understood and cherished. Actually, the differences I notice most now are how people treat other people. I've got a lot more growing to do but Peggy gave me a good start.