When life hands you potatoes, you make potato salad.
With Cain’s Mayonnaise – none of that Hellman’s stuff.
And green peppers and slices of hardboiled eggs.
And enough onions to make the Soup Nazi cry.
When life gives you a stomachache, you take some flat ginger ale, preferably Schweppes.
And eat Hostess Cinnamon Streusel Coffeecakes – cinnamon settles a stomach.
When life presents you with a rural road, brake sparingly.
There’s no need to stop at stop sign when you can easily roll through one.
Who needs Old Wives’ Tales and Farmer’s Almanacs when you can listen to the sound advice of Peg Morgan?
Margaret “Peg” Morgan was an awesome woman – straight up.
She was independent, non-judgmental, self-sufficient, and my grandmother. She was a woman who taught herself to drive a car at age 60. She was a woman who would spend hours peeling 2 lbs of potatoes, despite painful arthritis in her hands. She was a woman who would send you a card for any occasion, bring you to orthodontist/dentist/doctor/
To me, Nanny Peg has always been an amalgamation of different characters. She had hints of Mother Abbess from the Sound of Music, given her habit of saying the rosary every night and always singing an octave higher than everyone else at church.
She was a combination of all four Golden Girls, as she was the height of Sophia, enjoyed her smut like Blanche (she watched Days of Our Lives for over 30 years), exhibited the occasional innocence of Rose, and was a no-frills talker like Dorothy.
She also reminded me of Richard Alpert from Lost, given the fact that she always had the same appearance no matter the decade. Take 1983 – white permed hair, clip-on earrings, purple pants. Now look at 2009 – white permed hair, clip-on earrings, purple pants.
The summer before I moved to New York City I spent many days with Nanny Peg and my sister. Wednesday afternoons were spent running errands and eating lunch, and some of my most special memories of Nanny Peg come from these moments. I really struggled with moving to New York City for many reasons, but one of them was the fact that I would lose these Wednesday afternoons. Before I moved, Nanny Peg gave me this small wire angel; a symbol that would protect me in New York. This angel has been hanging my apartment for these two past years and thus far has accomplished its job.
Last week, Nanny Peg passed away at age 90.
As much as you can anticipate something like this, you are never totally prepared.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to her when I left for Queens and I’m not ready to say goodbye to her now.
While I was mentally and emotionally getting ready for the services this week, I knew I wanted to make something for her; something that she could take with her and that I could keep with me. Printmaking seemed like a logical medium, given that I could make multiple copies of the same piece. When I was trying to think of what I wanted to carve in the linoleum block, my eyes drifted over to the angel she gave me.
After carving the design, I inked the block and pulled two prints. I placed the first print (with the most ink on the block) in her casket. The second print was for me. In a way, it seemed poetic; I am a piece of her, after all.
Despite this last week and the difficult moments that lie ahead, these past few days have given me hope. If anything, they have given me an appreciation for my family – my parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who all pulled together and gave each other their support, their shoulders, their hands, and their hugs in order to make it through this event. It made me realize that like Nanny Peg, my family is awesome – straight up.