When Peggy was 85 her car broke down and she decided it was time to give up her driver’s license. Our friend, Sandy quickly organized a small group of friends to be Peggy’s designated drivers – her driving girls.
Initially, there were four of us in the rotation, but as other women heard about the list they asked to be added. I think there were about 10 of us in all. Sandy made a monthly calendar and we took turns driving Peggy on errands, appointments, and sometimes just fun outings.
Those of us who knew her well would never have called Peggy a sweet little old lady. She was salty and peppery. And wonderful. We enjoyed her keen sense of humor and quick wit. She came to our homes often for dinner and or to play games. She was one the sharpest Balderdash players I have ever seen.
She was adventurous and daring too. When Monica got her pilot’s license, Peggy – at age 91 – was her first passenger!
Sometimes she became emotional and flustered as she tried to express her gratitude for having so many good friends. We always assured her that the pleasure and the gain were mutual. She was a true and loyal friend. While never pushy with advice, she was happy to share the wisdom her years had brought. And we gained from it.
It was after one of those conversations I got the idea of writing her stories in a book: Driving Miss Peggy.
Remember the story of Driving Miss Daisy? Miss Daisy fought so hard against giving up her driving. What a huge difference between Miss Daisy and Miss Peggy, who embraced the new adventure of being driven around and nurturing friendships!
With the book forming in my mind, it was even more fun to pick her brain and clarify details of the stories Peggy had told us over the years.
She had demurred at first, but then she got so excited about having a book about her life. It was her idea that profits from the sale of the book would go to the Modesto Gospel Mission.
I am awed now, as I think about the timing of the book.
Driving Miss Peggy was published in August 0f 2008. We had a combination book release/birthday party for her, and Peggy was as vibrant and cute as ever!
Then she passed away just two months later on October 16, 2008.
It was sudden and unexpected. Peggy was just not feeling very well one afternoon, so she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Sandy and I spent the time with her in the emergency room as they took care of her and got ready to move her to a bed in the hospital.
Our husbands joined us that evening; and even though Peggy was obviously not feeling well, she flirted and teased with both of them.
After she was settled in her room she asked me if I could get her a copy of our book. She wanted to sign one for the nurse she had talked with that day down in the emergency room. I had a few copies in my car so she signed one and John and I dropped it off as we left the hospital that evening. That still impresses John. He’ll say, “The last thing she did was a giving thing.”
The next morning when I got to the hospital Peggy was weak and unresponsive. I laid my head beside hers on the pillow and began to sing one of our favorite songs: “It is Well with My Soul”.
After a few minutes I realized that Peggy had just slipped away. Our 92 year old friend had gone to be with the Lord. Sandy and I sat out in the lobby staring at each other in numb disbelief. Out hearts were so heavy, and we knew how much we’d miss her but we also knew it was well with her soul.