I have to start this blog post with a tribute. My great aunt Peggy Bue died on Saturday morning. She was an elderly lady, and had been sick for some months, but the news is, of course, saddening. Peggy was my paternal grandfather's youngest sister and a great friend of my grandmother's. In fact, when they were just teenage girls working together in Astoria's fish canneries, Peggy introduced my grandparents. She married her sweetheart, Allan, around the same time my grandparents married, and my grandmother and Peggy had their first-born sons near the same time as well.
Growing up, my interactions with Aunt Peggy were primarily around the holidays. We would go up to Astoria to share Thanksgiving and Christmas Days with my grandparents, and some years we would pop over to the Bues' house to see all my dad's cousins and all their kids. My brother, sister and I being the only grandkids in the Adams family, the ruckus of the large Bue family was both daunting and appealing. I had such a hard time keeping the names of all the kids and grandkids straight as they rushed around cooking the meal and checking on the cooking and getting in the way of the cooking, but there was always a haven of peace wherever Aunt Peggy happened to be.
When I was in college, my grandfather's Alzheimer's became much more pronounced. He had made it very clear that he wanted to be in his own home as long and as much as possible, and my grandmother made a lot of sacrifices to make that happen for him. As his mind continued to deteriorate, he forgot more and more people, he couldn't go into public, and he couldn't be left alone at home for any period of time. In order to free my grandmother to get out of the house from time to time, Peggy would come to sit with him or he would go to her home. Her familiar face, shared childhood memories and peace-filled smile were a comfort to him and to my grandmother in his final years.
After my grandfather passed on from advanced Alzheimer's, I continued to see Aunt Peggy, and when I started traveling to Africa, she was always very interested in my blog posts, photos and stories. She was a devout Lutheran and very involved in her church's women's group, where she arranged for me to speak after I decided to move to Tanzania. When I came home on my first visit at the end of 2010, Aunt Peggy was in the midst of a tough battle with cancer, but her indomitable spirit and gracious smile were still there. She beat the cancer and was on hand when Fred and I brought our son, Wesley, to Astoria on our next visit to the States. I was delighted to find her so strong, although some signs of mental wandering were there. She arranged again for us to present to her women's group, so we came back to Astoria a few weeks later. We had such a pleasant time with her, and our love and affection for this Godly woman grew even more.
Aunt Peggy developed Alzheimer's, which, over the past few months, had become debilitating. When the end came last Saturday, she was exactly where she would have wanted to be: in her home, which had been the location of so much love and family history, and she was surrounded by her beloved children and grandchildren.
In today's society, we celebrate women who do great or noteworthy things, who have a very public profile, who push to the front or the top. These women often deserve the attention and praise they receive, but what of the women like Peggy? She lived a long life quietly and lovingly serving her husband, her many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a vital member of her church and she loved her Lord Jesus. Hollywood may not be lining up to make a movie about Aunt Peggy's life, but she set an example of devotion, humility, joy and peace that is worthy of emulation. Her life was no smaller or less important because it was lived on a smaller stage. She was a beautiful and kind woman, a wonderful great-aunt, and someone I will certainly miss having in my life.