Peggy's Day of Firsts
I had such a spectacular day a few Friday's ago. It was a God day, a friendship day, and day of seeing the world through the eyes of God, and they eyes of child-like mind. It was a day of firsts for my friend Peggy, and it was a gooseflesh time of watching her reaction to new experiences she's never had in her 71 years of life. I feel so privileged to have been a part of it.
Peggy is a sister from our congregation. She has the mind of a 12 year old. She is short and cute and has an infectious laugh. I call her Peggy Sue - in fact I sing the Buddy Holly song to her every chance I get. I'll say "Hey Peggy Sue," then burst into song - "Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue, prettiest girl I ever knew, o-o-o Peggy, o Peggy Sue-ue-ue-ue." She loves it. When she leaves a voicemail she always says "Hi Lori, this is your Peggy Sue."
Peggy is a faithful servant of the Lord in spite of her many health problems and other challenges, and is at church nearly every time the doors are open. She has had a difficult life but has embraced the Lord and her church and she is an integral part of our fellowship and ministry.
To the ocean or bust
A few weeks ago on a Thursday afternoon, Peggy, myself, and several others were ministering to some community folks who come by every week for a bowl of soup, fellowship, and a time of praise and prayer. Peggy and I were discussing over a bowl of soup the fact that because she doesn't drive, and I have no car, we never get to go places like everyone does during the summer. Our friend Rebecca, who is Peggy's closest friend, confidante, and mentor, asked Peggy, "Peggy, what do you do for fun?"
"Well," she said, taxing her brain trying to come up with something, "I guess I come here to church to be with you guys."
"Ya, but don't you ever go anywhere and do fun things?"
"Well, no, my family stays home most of the time."
Rebecca had heard me whining about the desire to get away too, so she announced to Peggy and I "That's it! Tomorrow we're going to the ocean. You guys be ready by 9 a.m."
"Really? Really?" Peggy said. "I've never been to the ocean, you know. I can't wait."
The next morning, Rebecca and I picked up Peggy and we were off to the ocean, specifically the town of Westport, Washington. It was a long drive but we cut-up, chatted, and laughed all the way. Adventure was in our blood. Time flew quickly by.
When we arrived we found a parking space about a 1/2 mile away from the beach. The walk to the beach was a bit of a challenge for Peggy, but we took it slow and enjoyed everything as we went along. On the path to the beach, there were nice benches every few yards with memorial plaques on them. Peggy and I stopped at each one and read them, wondering who the deceased people were, and what they were like. She was soaking up every nuance along the way.
We finally saw the dunes rise up and as soon as Peggy's shoes hit the sand, she squealed and proclaimed, "Oh, I've got to take my shoes off."
Her darling, bare, pedicured feet sunk into the cool sand and there were more exclamations, and giggles. She'd stop in her tracks and wiggle her toes in the sand. "Oh, that feels so funny." As we topped the dune, the beautiful pacific ocean came into view in all its glory. A huge gasp escaped from Peggy's mouth, followed by the exclamation that it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.
We nearly ran over the sand toward the water. There were a few surfers scattered here and there. When we got to the water, we laid down our shoes on the dry sand, rolled up our pant legs, and stepped in. It was cold, really cold. More squeals and remarks of wonder from Peggy. On the way to the water Rebecca had told her that when you wade in the ocean you have a tendency to walk out farther and farther into the water because it seems shallow. And before you know it, you're wet all over from the surf.
The water was so cold we didn't expect Peggy to go any farther than right at the water's edge. But that was not to be the case. As her feet adjusted to the temperature, she did exactly what Rebecca had warned her about, and within a few minutes her jeans were soaked. She didn't care because she was too busy giggling, splashing, and frolicking in the water. We finally convinced her to come back to shore. The tide was getting pretty powerful and knocked both she and I onto our backsides when the sand disappeared from under our feet as the water ebbed back into the deep. I don't know how to describe the look on her face when it happened. I kind of liken it to getting on a carnival ride or airplane for the first time when you become absolutely in awe of the first sensations of movement. She was on a roller coaster of discovery with all of her tactile senses tingling. Her mind was in the throes of wonder and utter joy. It nearly brought me to tears. It brings me to tears telling it.
Fish, chips, and ice cream
We finally decided to walk back to the car and grab some lunch. I had tried to convince Rebecca the day before that we should have a picnic on the beach. She said she'd rather treat Peggy and I to a lunch of fish and chips in town. As we headed back to the dunes, she wished she'd listened. A picnic would have been perfect. Rebecca then saw there was a huge flock of seagulls; probably 30 or 40. No spring chicken herself, she bolted 90 miles an hour toward the flock, arms splayed wide, to watch them scatter and fly away. This sent Peggy into gleeful hysterics, and she bolted after Rebecca too. By the time we made it back to the dunes near the walkway, poor Peggy was exhausted. So she and I planted our selves on the dune and reflected on our time at the beach while Rebecca hiked to the car to bring it to us.
Peggy had calmed quite a bit, but couldn't stop telling me how this was the best day of her life and she never believed she could see so much beauty and have so much fun at once.
Rebecca arrived soon and we drove the mile or so to town. Not much there, but we found a little seafood dive and ordered fish and chips. I am not fond of breaded or battered fish, but I have never eaten such delicious fries in all my life, smothered in the tastiest tartar sauce known to man. Peggy can't really handle greasy, fatty foods, so she didn't eat much. Rebecca and I barely got permission before we dove into Peggy's fries. It tickled her no end.
This was followed by a trip to the ice cream dive. I was too full, so I had a cup of decaf. Rebecca got the biggest waffle cone I have ever seen, and it melted so fast, she spent most of the time drinking the ice cream that was pouring out a hole in the bottom of her cone. Peggy had a very small cone, but could not finish it.
We did the restroom thing, browsed a few shops, and got back in the car.
The Tsunami beach
Rebecca drove to the other end of Westport where years ago she and a mutual friend had rented a house to enjoy the R & R on weekends. It was only a few blocks from a beach. We meandered around the neighborhood to find the house, then we parked near Westport Light Trail, a paved trail that parallels the beach west then south to the Westport Lighthouse. It was next to some ocean front condos. The paved path was for walking, biking, or pogo sticking, with more memorial benches to sit and enjoy the scenery. We went a ways and sat on a bench. Straight ahead were the grassy dunes. We could just see the water peaking over the grassland dunes, and smell and hear the vibrant surf. The sun had pierced the cloud cover. Behind our bench were some foresty type patches where lots of birds and wild life habitate. We sat there probably 30-40 minutes. Sometimes we were quiet, sometimes we talked quietly. But the overriding theme was that it was the best day of Peggy's life and she would never forget it. It was such a peaceful, poignant time. We never wanted it to end. But it was time to start home. Heading back toward the road, we saw a sign at the entrance of the trails we were just at that said the area was a vulnerable tsunami area. Within 50 yards of the sign were the vacation condos. Hmm, condos in a tsunami zone? We howled with laughter. Peggy and I decided we would pool our money one day and buy one of the condos. If we couldn't cough up rent, then we'd pray for a tsunami. We still like to plan it. It is such a nice dream.
And we're off...
So as we made our way through town, headed toward the highway, Rebecca suddenly made a sharp right into a parking lot where there was a go-cart track. "What are we doing here?" Peggy and I asked. Rebecca parked, looked at Peggy and said, "Peggy, this is your one chance. I think it's time you drove a go-cart. Have you ever driven a go-cart?"
Peggy was speechless for a moment, then replied, "I never drove anything. I don't have a drivers license."
Rebecca assured her she didn't need one. Rebecca didn't particularly want to drive, nor did I. So Peggy hemmed and hawed. Rebecca asked her about four times if she wanted to do it. Peggy kept saying no. So, we started pulling out of the parking slot when Peggy suddenly splayed her arms out and screamed "Stop! I want to do it. I'm going to do it. This is my only chance."
Rebecca decided to join her and I was going to stand outside the track and take pictures. We were lucky that there were no kids or customers. Just the three of us. The go-carts were very fancy and sporty. Peggy sat down and listened very carefully to the man's directions on how to operate the break and the gas pedal. I was worried she would get nervous and get them mixed up because that is what I would do. But finally he shouted go and Peggy took off like a bat out of hell. This was not a basic round track, it was full of hair pin turns. She came flying around the first hair pin and time seemed to stand still. I knew the crash was coming. She knew the crash was coming. I could tell by the look on her face she was overwhelmed by the power of the machine and difficulty of the track turns. But guess what? She made the turn and let out a whoop. When she passed the man he told her to slow down. She did, and she consistently stayed in her lane, but Rebecca was still back in the dust.
While all this was going on a family in a van pulled up. The parents and kids stayed in the car and watched the show. I was so appreciative that the man recognized this was a special moment and gave her privacy. I took some photos, then went over to the van and told them her story. Then two more families pulled up and everyone lined up along the fence around the track. Peggy was given and extra minute on the track and no one cared. She staggered out of the cart, and when she got her sea legs, she clasped her hands together and held them high over head shouting, "I WON! I WON!" She did indeed, for Rebecca was behind the whole time.
The crowd along the fence were cheering and clapping, giving her high fives and congrats, and she kept on telling them "I WON! I WON!" The fact is, she's still rubbing Rebecca's nose in it that she won. Rebecca doesn't seem to mind a bit. And honestly, Rebecca did not let her win. Peggy was just a cannon ball on the track.
We trekked back to the car and listened to Peggy for half an hour boasting about her big win, and exalting over the wonderful day of firsts she'd had. It was, she kept saying, "The best day of my life and I'll never forget it." She finally got quiet. She was quite exhausted and became a bit nauseous. When we pulled up to her house and she got out, then stuck her head back in and asked Rebecca when we could go again.
And the winner is...
I had two large prints made of Peggy and Rebecca waving from their go-carts. I surprised Peggy with them the next week and posted one on the church bulletin board and gave her the other to keep. She had to show each person her personal copy, then walk them over to the board and show them the same photo, all the while telling them "I WON! You should have seen me. I WON!" She repeated this a few days later on Sunday morning.
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Peggy our blessing
Peggy is such a blessing to everyone who knows her. She is not a child, but an adult, and lives very much like an adult. But there is a child-likeness to her on occasion. She loves and trusts the Lord as a child. Jesus had a lot to say about this:
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me" (Matthew 18:1-5).
When Jesus fed the five thousand, it was a child who generously, and without hesitation, donated his meager lunch to be used. When parents brought their children to Jesus so that He would pray for them, the disciples rebuked them. They felt Jesus had more important people to minister too, and the kids were just a nuisance. Jesus said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
This is quite telling about the kingdom of God. God means for us to come to Him as a child - trusting, humble, loving abundantly and unconditionally, and generous to those who love them most. I believe He also wants us to view life as an adventure.
Peggy loves God like a child. She also is a prayer warrior. She reads her Bible every day, even though reading is very difficult. She wants to know Jesus as much as she can. She goes to Bible studies and has a lot of insights. We need Peggy's in our lives as an example of a child of God.
The Bible does not tell us we are "adults of God," it says we are the children of God. I pray that I might see God and His kingdom more and more through the eyes of a child.
Dedicated to my sweet friend - Peggy Sue
© 2012 Lori Colbo
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