Yesterday, I received news that my former neighbor, Peggy Spaugh, passed over two weeks ago. The funeral was yesterday, and one of my other former neighbors hastily contacted me, but I was not able to attend the service, unfortunately.
A phrase that is widely used within the pagan community to acknowledge death is, "What is remembered, lives." I believe it was Starhawk who gave us the gift of this phrase, but correct me if I am wrong.
So today I write about Peggy, to both mourn and remember her.
Peggy and I were not close friends, but we were good neighbors for 8 years. I used to live in a small complex of cottages in Berkeley called Fox Court. I moved last October, and I wrote about my relationship with my home here. Fox Court is a very magical place, and one of the best things about it is that, while we were all friendly enough with one another, almost everyone there pretty much keeps to themselves, quietly. Peggy was a sort of unofficial welcome wagon of one.
Peggy was a fiery bottle red-head legal clerk who loved to travel, watched a lot of TV, had a long distance boyfriend, built a loft bed in her apartment, gave cards for most holidays, and was honestly one of the best neighbors I have ever had. She modeled exemplary neighbor behavior: bringing in the mail or delivery notices if she saw them, asking if I needed anything from the store, answering questions about the building, the laundry machines, etc. She had lived at Fox Court for many years already when I moved in, so she knew the place like the back of her hand. She was a wealth of information, and was generally very cheerful.
When I first moved in, Peggy came and introduced herself. Then she introduced me to her cats, and asked to meet mine. She loved playing with my cats through the screen door when she would go to the laundry. When either she or I would go out of town, we would look in on one another's pets. She had two cats when I moved in: Justice and Sterling. When Sterling died, Peggy ended up adopting one of the kittens I was then fostering, and named her Liberty. She got a kick out of the idea that when she went out and called them in at night, it sounded like she was hosting a rally. "Liiiiiiiiibertyyyyyy! Juuuuuuustiiiiice!" We all got to know the sound of her voice, summoning her babies for rest each night.
Peggy had old-fashioned manners. When invited over, she brought a gift. When she received something, she gave a thank-you note. If she saw a coupon for something she thought I might like, she cut it out and gave it to me. Flawlessly. She decorated her home for the holidays with care, no small detail left out. She loved to entertain. She gave some of the other, older tenants of Fox Court rides to and from their medical appointments, grocery shopping, etc. She kept on top of the details that were unfolding in peoples' lives- not as a busybody, but as a sort of goodwill ambassador of our complex. I learned a lot about good neighbor relations from her example. I am grateful for her gracious manners. She really was such an integral part of my experience of the place.
Today I pray for Peggy, for her parents Reva and Orville, for her cats Liberty and Justice. I send comfort and relief to those who feel this loss so keenly, including myself. Blessings, Peggy Spaugh. Thank you for your being.