Monday, February 27, 2012

Peggy Fit Right In

This story has to be among Mom's favorites. It's the story of how she indirectly got one of my aunt and uncles together, her brother Elmer and his wife Peggy.

It's also a story that she returned to a few times over the years. This would seem to be the definitive version. I may post another version in the future.

The photo is Mom when she was probably 7 or 8. The caption on the back doesn't say. The caption, though, identifies Mom, and it also identifies the bird sitting on her shoulder: Corky. It's a bird Mom mentions in this story.

I was born with a physical disability, number 13 of 14 children; raised on a farm in eastern South Dakota. When I was 6 years old my aunt decided I needed some pen pals; so she put my name in a farm paper saying I was a shut in and wanted letters.

Well I got them - letters from all over the area - about 100 of them. I couldn't read or write yet so my two sisters Alice and Bernice helped open and process the letters and cards. They recorded all the names and addresses and answered some with short letters. One young girl, living on a remote ranch in the southern tip of Montana wrote a nice letter. This young girl was the same age as Alice about 12, so she wrote her a letter back. Thus began a letter communication between the two girls, who seemed to have a lot in common.

Some time the following summer, Alice and two of our brothers, Loren, age 17, and Elmer, age 15, talked Mom and Dad into letting them drive the 750 miles to Big Horn, Montana. I heard much about this trip, as I was too young to go. I can't imagine my folks allowing such young teenagers to make this long trip.

Her name was Peggy. She was the oldest of four children, the only girl. They lived with their dad on a ranch only accessible by car in dry seasons. Otherwise, horses were the mode of transportation. Peggy fit right in with the three teenagers. They did everything from rounding-up cattle, then branding them to camping outside. The ranch had no electricity and little running water. For Peggy and her brothers, it meant staying in a boarding house during the school year; but summers were spent on the ranch. Peggy did the cooking and cleaning for the family.

She had red hair with the temper to match, when she felt she was right. A fiesty teenager but with a big love for life. Even though she lived in the remote part of the state, with no TV, of course, no radio, only newspapers and magazines, which came only when they could get into town to pick up the mail, she kept abreast of all the happenings in the world. She tried the latest fashion and cooked the usual dishes. She seemed the typical teenager and got along with the three from South Dakota. So much so that her dad allowed her to come back with them for a visit.

Once at our house with all of my family, she was one of us. It's like she belonged. My Mom and Dad loved her. As for the rest of us, she was like another sister. She was interested in everything we did. She loved every living thing. I will never forget the baby sparrow she named Corky, who had fallen from a nest. She took it and fed it for weeks. She was ready for everything. She worked in the fields making hay; she helped feed the livestock; she helped me and made me feel important. She never felt sorry for me; but always encouraged me in everything I attempted.

Over the succeeding several summers, she spent time at our house, sometimes with her brothers, sometimes with her dad - who was a wonderful mild-mannered rancher. The brothers of course, sent all these girls hearts fluttering. Elmer, however, had his sights set on Peggy, or was it the other way around. They were married when she turned 18. I told her once that she married Elmer so she could have all of us.

Peggy has been more of a best friend then a sister-in-law. There is nothing I can't talk to her about and she would understand. She is gentle and loving with everyone and demands nothing in return. She and Elmer have nine children and many grandchildren. Five years ago, she returned to school and became an LPN. Her compassion is now directed to her patients at the Veterans Hospital in Sturgis, South Dakota.

If I had a choice of who to visit - it would be Peggy. We could talk a week and not run out of things to say. She has this effect on everyone she meets. She can walk into a room and people are drawn to her. She makes everyone feel special because she is special. God made only one Peggy and He gave her to us.

Connie, April 28, 1992

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