Neighbors of June

Peg o’ My Heart

Before I could go to Peg’s funeral on Saturday, I had to take the kitten to the vet.

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Wut.

Not only did Milhous need booster shots, but I also needed to ask what to do about the fact that he hates food.

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watch ching figyur

My vet is pretty good at solving stuff. “Hang on, let me get something,” she said, and returned with a can of sardines, as you do. I thought the only people who had cans of sardines were Finnish folk or your grandpa.

The vet opened that disgusting can, plucked out one of those oversized goldfish, put it in front of Milhous, and?

That cat ate like he hadn’t eaten in a week, which he practically hadn’t.

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fuq fig yure

“I’ll give you the rest of the can,” the vet said, plinking those gross still-having-eyeballs sardines into a plastic baggie.

So now what do I gotta do? Do I gotta buy sardines alla time? Where the hell do you buy sardines? The Old Man Halls Mentholyptus and Sardines Emporium?

SarDine and Deluca?

Once we were done, I screamed home and dropped off the Old Man and the Seafood, there, and got back in the car to vote. It was 12:30, Peg’s funeral was at 2:00, and I figured it’s the midterms. I’ll just pop in and pop out.

Hello, angered nation. Holy cats. There was literally no parking at the rec center. I had to go to the Dollar Store and walk back there, and then I waited in line for an hour. I finally voted. I’d say half of you might be pleased with how I voted.

At this point, I had less than half an hour till Peg’s funeral. I thought of the joke of being late for your own funeral while I screamed home, put on ANY FUCKING THING that was remotely dark and sorry-you’re-dead-looking, and screamed to the church.

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I was still five minutes late; the whole thing had already begun. I was very Benjamin in The Graduate, and you can image how delighted everyone was when I dashed into the funeral yelling,

“ELAINE!!!”

ELAINE!!!”

The good news is, no one noticed me slipping in late except the guy who made you sign the guest book. I listened to the very nice Presbyterian minister whilst I plucked the myriad animal fur off my black mourning tights. Mostly I was just going through the motions, till they played a “reflective piece,” according to the program.

Peg had been a member of this church; she was in the choir. I knew pretty much all the members of said choir, as they had regularly attended the many parties Peg had during the 10 years she was my neighbor. There was the woman who stays pretty no matter what age she is. There’s the friend Peg and I went for Mexican food with. They were all there.

When the pianist got up, I expected some somber hymn. But it wasn’t.

It was 100% Peg.

It was upbeat, it was whimsical, it was so absolutely her. I saw all the choir members smile and tap their feet, rockin’ out with their Presbyterian out.

And all of a sudden, the reflective song really became a reflective song. I thought of the day I met Peg, how she told me about all the good shopping in the area. I got right in the car and checked it out, that minute.

I remembered her driving me one night, in the rain, to a housewares store she knew about that sold really great stuff for cheap.

screen-shot-2018-11-04-at-4-46-21-pm.pngPeg was an absolutely horrifying driver.

I remembered the one, two, three times she helped me decorate my house. Peg was an artist and an interior designer, and she was good. She helped me when I first learned what she did for a living. She drew me diagrams of where things should go in each room.

She helped me again when Marvin moved out. As soon as she heard he was leaving, she took my side, even though she had no idea why he was going. I remember her helping me paint the dining room and never saying ONE WORD to on-his-way-out Marvin.

And finally, when I came back after my year abroad, she saw me get out of my car and her reaction was priceless. “Yay!!! …Ohhhh.” She was happy till she realized why I was moving back. And she helped me unpack by sitting in a chair, with wine, and telling me what to put where.

I did everything she said.

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I thought of the parties she had, and all the celebrating we did together: New Year’s Day meditations downtown, Halloween when she dressed as Bob Ross, Christmas when she made the best bacon ever, the royal wedding at 5 a.m.

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While that piano player was playing his so-totally-Peg tune, I thought of all that. And from the smiles all around the room, I could tell everyone else was thinking their own happy Peg thoughts.

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And I know that in this life, some of us want to have fame, or wealth, or great beauty, and fortunately, I have all those things in spades.

But when you come down to it, you really can’t ask for more than to leave a group of people smiling on a sunny fall afternoon because they’re thinking about who you were while you were here.

As the funeral came to an end, I grabbed my stuff to go to the reception, and it was right then that I remembered what I had in my purse.

Peg, I’m sorry that I came to your funeral with a whole mess of sardine eyeballs staring disdainfully through a baggie.

But I think somehow you’d have loved that.

76 thoughts on “Peg o’ My Heart

  1. Just lovely, June. My sympathies on the loss of your sweet friend. “But when you come down to it, you really can’t ask for more than to leave a group of people smiling on a sunny fall afternoon because they’re thinking about who you were while you were here.”

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  2. The Peg stories over the years were some of the most enjoyable. I often found myself simultaneously wanting my own Peg and wanting to be someone’s Peg. What a beautiful person she was and I thank you for sharing her with all of us.

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  3. Wow, what a touching sentimental tribute to Peg. I’m so glad that I met her. You were the BEST neighbor!

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  4. That was the best personal eulogy. You have many fond memories of your friend and it touched my heart. As I played the video with music I continued reading your story and it was a perfect read. Glad you’re back to blogging, and thanks for sharing with us again.
    STL FAN

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  5. We recently and unexpectedly lost a close friend. Your words about Peg are especially poignant today. Thank you for sharing them.

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  6. Lovely tribute. You were lucky to have her. She was lucky to have you. I know she will be missed.

    tangent…I had to get a new password and log in to WordPress to log in today. Never happened before. Weird.

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  7. See, June, this is one of the reasons we love your not-blog: because your people become our people and I am saddened by the passing of Peg, but also feel happy to know that someone like her existed in the world. Thank you for sharing Peg with us.

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  8. Your beautiful tribute and memories brought me to tears. How wonderful to have shared and brightened your lives for ten years. You were both lucky to have each other for neighbors and she will be truly missed. Thank you for sharing Peg with us.

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  9. I played the music while I read your post and it was perfect. We should all be so lucky to have a neighbor like Peg. Thanks for sharing your memories on just how sweet she was.

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  10. I am glad you described Peg because I missed that era of your not blog. What a delight she was! Beautiful tribute! That song was very sweet too. She more than made up for the gaybors, I’d say.
    The sardines in the purse saga was hysterical. I know what they are so some elderly relative must have eaten them.
    I had a friend named Peg who passed and I called and still call her Peg O’My Heart. My dad used to play that song on his accordian at family parties. Pretty Baby and Lady Of Spain were other big ones. Sometimes both grandfathers joined in. My dad’s father on the harmonica, my mom’s dad on the spoons. Happy old times.
    Sorry for your loss of such a unique and amazing friend.

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  11. As I was looking at the pictures of Peg, I realized how often she was a part of your blog. I felt like I knew her too. Thanks you for the lovely tribute to her.
    And I’m glad Milhous found a food he likes. Lovely post.

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  12. Lovely post and very lovely title, pretty Joob.

    Legacy. Peg left a legacy. You keep her legacy alive by sharing this post with us. Thank you for doing that.

    I am haunted by the sermon a pastor gave at the funeral of my 83 year old friend, five years ago. My friend left a legacy…of being an all-around kind, good guy who made an impact in small ways all throughout his life, mainly by just being present for people of all ages he came in contact with: kids, friends, kids’ friends, family, friends of friends, people he barely knew, strangers. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of the pastor’s question to folks sitting in the pews at that funeral that day….his question…What is YOUR legacy? Haunted, I am haunted by that question/challenge and I feel it has made me just a tad better human being knowing I hope to have made a difference, to have left a legacy as sincere and authentic as my friend and Peg did.

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  13. We’ve all said it before ,but you should be writing books and hobnobbing with Ann Patchett and Fredrik Backman (my current crush.) I read a lot.
    A LOT. You be the real deal.

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  14. I currently have a batch of four foster kittens and so know for a fact you can get sardines at Trader Joe’s.

    I will miss Peg, just from knowing her through your (not) blog.

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  15. Peg was a wonderful friend to you and this is such a sweet remembrance of your times together.
    Thanks for sharing her with us over the years, June.
    She was a kind soul.
    Dancing in heaven and laughing at the sardines.

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  16. This is such a wonderful tribute to your beloved friend and neighbor. She was a real treasure. I bet she laughed out loud about the sardines in your purse at her funeral. Love all the photos of her. Maybe you will have some wonderful neighbors like Peg at your new place. Ask your vet about giving Milhous a constant diet of sardines. Could be bad for his kidneys. Mackerel is more disgusting than sardines.

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  17. That paragraph –dang I should have copied and pasted. She left y’all smiling thinking about who she was. That was so beautiful. Thank you so much for that.

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  18. Great post, Coot!
    What a touching and rich story about your Peg. She left great memories behind – for you but also for those of us lucky enough to know her through your story-telling.(For some reason, I think Peg and Ethel Merman are going to be best buddies in heaven.)
    Thank you, June, for sharing this story with us.

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  19. This was such a lovely, lovely post. I am sure that Peg was there and appreciated the reflection of her life. I am so sad for you. It is hard to lose a friend.

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  20. That was a lovely tribute to Peg.

    Milhouse. Sardines. That’s true love there because I’d be throwing up if I had to deal with those.

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  21. I enjoyed reading your posts about Peg and seeing photos of her. She was a talented woman (love her arrangement of your bookcases) who knew how to have lots of fun. Farewell, Peg!

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  22. Peg was a good friend and neighbor and I feel blessed to have gotten to know (of) her through you. I’m sure she would have loved the fact that you had sardines in your purse during her service. Godspeed, Peg.

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  23. That was lovely. It made me believe Peg was a friend of mine, too. Godspeed, Peg. I was also going to suggest a dollar store for sardines.

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  24. I’m Presbyterian, and also a lay pastor. Today was our observation of All Saints’ Day, and it sounds like Peg will be sittin’ just fine with all them other saints!

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  25. What a wonderful send off for Peg! You captured the day beautifully. She’s probably sitting on a cloud laughing at Milhous’ sardines. Sorry for your loss of a devoted friend.

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  26. Loved your pictures and stories of Peg. I’m so happy that she received a send off that was fitting to the life she had. I, too, think she would’ve appreciated the humor of the sardines in your purse.

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  27. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Peg but I feel like I would have loved her. This blog has been a part of my daily routine for 10+ years and believe me when I say, I will think of Peg often. Also, it’s so weird that I have followed you for so very long and I have read about the towns there. And, now. Now, we are pscing(military speak for moving) from Oahu to Richmond, Va! Oh how excited I am!! We have never lived on the East coast.

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    1. My military friends who move here, from the west coast, are always surprised by our humidity and bugs. Mosquitos and gnats are what they’ve complained about the most. But, they all say it’s worth it to have the four seasons. Welcome to VA!

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      1. I’m used to the bugs and humidity. Arkansan here! I’m very excited for winter. My boys have never experienced snow. We’ve lived on a island their entire lives. They are in for some culture shock!

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  28. I am so glad you’re back. You are the best storyteller. I’m sitting here crying over the loss of Peg, despite the perfectly uplifting tune and wonderful tribute, because I’m so sad you’ve lost such a good friend. We all need a Peg!

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  29. I’m so glad Peg had the perfect sendoff.

    The dollar store might have a better price on sardines instead of the grocery store? Or maybe Aldi? (Take your own shopping bag)

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  30. Never got to meet Peg, but you’ve left me crying happy tears and feeling like she was my good friend, too. Cheers, Peg! Keep an eye on our June! Yeah, in the end, what matters is what we do for others, how we help, how we make people feel. Decades and decades from now, there will be more thank-you notes and smiling remembrances of YOU than you can possibly imagine. The safe and smiling place you create is such a huge gift, especially in these current days. Thanks for being here and giving everybody a place to breathe and laugh a little bit. Or a lot.

    So glad MIlhaus was eating! Sardines are cheap at the dollar stores. Some of them come with a sauce he might not like, though. My sister does a lot of rescues and she buys mackerel in big cans, which is also cheap. She says cats like it because it smells strong.

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  31. Can a cat live on sardines alone? I guess you’re going to find out.
    When I was little, my made made me sardines, heads off. I ate them until I saw them in the can for the first time. That was the end of that. Who would give those to a kid? God, my mother must have hated me.

    Glad you voted. And I bet at this point, way more than half of us are happy you did so. Absentee voting is the best, but then you miss out of the sticker that says “I voted” so, not a perfect system.

    I don’t think I will get such a nice tribute as this is from anyone when I go. I think most people will just leave muttering “sometimes she was funny, but mostly she was a pain in the ass.” Looking forward to your funeral though, June. Such fun things have been planned!

    Does anyone else feel like this day has lasted a week?

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    1. mom* My mom made me sardines. Good to know in your absence I haven’t improved on my proofreading.

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  32. June, that was a beautiful tribute to a good friend. I just know that she would (or did) love the whole thing. The sardines-in-the-bag was the perfect touch. And, also, too, thank you for voting. I mailed back my absentee ballot. Earlier this week. Please, everyone, VOTE!

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  33. Lovely tribute to a great neighbor. Who wouldn’t appreciate a handbag full of sardines at a funeral? Was there good food at the reception? With Presbyterians I’ve learned it can go either way.

    I love when these posts just pop up out of nowhere. It’s a delight to mine eyes. Especially today when it’s suddenly dark at 4:20 PM. I realized today that when the last clock that you actually have to set has finally left the planet, they will be able to mess with us constantly. The only clock I had to change today was the car – I’m sure it won’t be long before that changes itself, too. Who are “they” you ask? No clue. The ones who wish to mess with us.

    Happy Sunday!

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  34. You wrote a wonderful memorial piece on Peg. I think she knew how you valued her as your neighbor and friend. Now I need to go get busy to make a life that’s half as good as Peg’s filled with love, laughter, and good times,

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  35. You have made a lovely portrait of your friend with your words.
    On another note what will a diet of sardines mean for your…erm…clean up routine?

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  36. Awww June, what a sweet commentary on Peg and the good neighbor that she was. I am sure she was dying laughing at the sardines and their dead eyeballs sneaking in to the funeral. I hope someone says such nice things about me when I go.

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