Tomorrow my mother will celebrate her birthday alone for the first time in 82 years, which is a disappointing but sadly universal challenge during this historic global pandemic.
In honor of her, though, we’ll focus on the fifth word in that otherwise depressing sentence.
Let’s celebrate Grandma P!
P is for Peggy Jo, the oldest daughter of Robert P and Dorothy Fey, a mischief-making, nun-confounding, friend-defending, trumpet-playing, pearl-wearing, cookie-loving, tennis-playing, boogie-dancing, bike-riding, puzzle-solving, English-teaching bundle of energy.
P is for piano, my mother’s life companion. She received a Baldwin for her 10th birthday from her paternal grandma (and favorite person in the world, if she had to choose), the intimdating Estelle Fey. While her mother thought the gift far too extravagant, Grandma Estelle held firm and my mom loved that instrument from the moment she touched it. Less disciplined than her initial teachers might have preferred, my mom enjoyed playing by ear and, to this day, will hear a song that appeals to her and then run to her piano to play it. She plays her piano every day and finds a keyboard to play when she travels.
P is for prepared, which my mother is, for every eventuality. A natural fretter, my mom envisions potential calamaties so vividly she almost convinces you that a hurricane forecast in Taipei poses a legitimate threat to the landlocked waters of Lake Winnebago. While exhausting, this glass-half-empty-and-crawling-with-deadly-germs outlook on life has given her a Super Power because Grandma P is a…
Problem solver. Like everyone else in this world, Grandma Peggy faced all kinds of restrictions in the face of the coronavirus. But, she shifted gears (as she is used to doing on the beloved yellow bike she rides around town). I have written before about how she tread carefully and always more than six-feet away from her nearest companion. But, she also found ways to maintain the aspects of her life she held dear. She spoke often to her friends via telephone, especially those from her Packer family with whom she has maintained a close relationship. She learned to videoconference with her grandchildren, even though Facetime didn’t always include an actual Peggy face. She hired a teenager to hit with her once a week and ended up improving her tennis game immensely during the pandemic. She is now actively seeking competitive tournaments to enter once the coast is clear. She found a handful of drive-thru restaurants that served the exact food she like, and paid precisely in cash because she doesn’t trust debit cards and didn’t want to handle change. She attended church via the Bishop’s televised mass, but also stopped in to light candles when she knew no one else would be around. She carried gloves, anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, a gore tex jacket and spare glasses in her car just in case. All of these efforts allowed her to enjoy her life and stay as safe as she could until she was able to get…
Protected by a vaccine. Having received one of Cincinnati’s first polio vaccines when she was a child, my mom had absolutely no qualms about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, she could not wait and spent lots of time researching its availability. Thanks to her tenacity and my sister Kathy’s determination as well, my mom received her first dose a few weeks ago. She played tennis the next day and said she hadn’t noticed any side effects until she reached her arm up to serve and said, “Ow!” “But, that just means my immune system is kicking in,” she told me cheerfully. “It’s all good.” She’ll receive her second dose next week and we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief. In the meantime, we’ll toast her with
Potent potables because she dearly loves both Jeopardy and a five o’clock glass of chardonnay.
If you have a moment tomorrow, please wish Grandma Peggy a happy birthday!
Hang in there, Mom. We’ll see you soon.