My sister Peg and i have been given one another by a power whose authority we have had occasion to question. We have chafed under the impersonalism of our luck or fate but assuredly of our similar outcomes. Life-long singles and temperamental loners, we are survivors of the incalculable losses, in the space of eight months, first of our 31-year old brother who died on the eve of his college graduation, and then of our sister and her husband who died in a hiking accident–a young couple widely celebrated for their goodness and joie-de-vivre.
Because her well-being now redounds to me (after the sensitive friendship my mother provides us), and because my heart and conscience dictate the terms of my own happiness, i believe in Peg, without whom i am nothing, and for whom i matter deeply.
Once i did find it easier to ignore the holidays which make such a difference to my more traditional sibling. But then i did find trying to go my own way against the grain of the family defeating and miserable. The solitude i fled to felt morally contaminated when bought at the expense of another’s need to connect. And with the wrecking loss of our Dad to emphysema and heart disease four years ago, i could no longer stand for myself alone. When i tried to justify my absenteeism from the Christmas holiday later, in an email, Peg mercifully ignored it. On my birthday, however, she sent on her certain birthday gift and always profound brevity in a message which read: “Despite your request to pass on your birthday, I feel it matters, Moll!” In a flash, i was moved. The foolishness of my own “position” was compassionately revealed to me. And by accepting her gift and message, i accepted my own responsibility in making her know that she matters, deeply, to me. i experienced, through her gesture, how good it feels, and how important, to matter to someone!
Foolish perfectionist that i am, i often curse the innocent intended of my planned gifts which are largely visual art works. Yet have i been richly surprised and rewarded by the hidden wisdom and art of Peg, the family business woman, famous for her gifts of a 30-pound first aid kit, a self-powered hand-crank radio, a water-heater jacket. Four magnificent gifts of her hand-crafted compact discs, replete with original cover-art, in memory of our four lost family members, she presented me over time, each a work of art and stunning portrait of the lost friends.
i believe in Peg who, by courageously asking that i “be her family,” gave me herself, a life-long occasion and audience for my own best creations.