Moving Miss Peggy: A Story of Dementia, Courage and Consolation
by Robert Benson
I read this little book early this past Sunday morning. The copy of it was acquired on Saturday afternoon at ALA 2013. Mr. Benson was there in person to sign copies of it. I had never read any of his works before. I may send him an email now that I have read the book.
This is a very well-written and poignant story. It is written in the third person for the most part. It is not written from the point of view of the author, although he is obviously a character in the story. Sometimes it is addressed as “we” (the four siblings who must decide what to do with their mother), and then each sibling or spouse is named when necessary.
Miss Peggy, as she is most often called, married young and gave birth to five children over the next 16 years. After her husband passed away fairly young (their youngest child was still just 16 years old), she led a rather independent life working and enjoying living. However, in the last couple of years, some things haven’t been quite right with her, and her living children gather to decide what must be done for her, and who will do what things for Miss Peggy.
She is experiencing dementia, and it is getting worse. She is not quite the self she used to be. She has already had to give up driving. It is finally decided that she must be moved into an assisted living facility, and her large townhouse must be sold The siblings set out to find just the perfect location for their mother. In the meantime, they are trying to carefully dissolve their mother’s household and belongings. Various pieces of furniture goes to various grandchildren who are moving out on their own, for instance.
It is a beautiful story, and it really resonated with me. I have experienced some of these things recently with my grandpa recently moving into assisted living. I inherited some very special furniture. . . and this past Sunday, my grandpa was able to share again the story of how he and grandma acquired that furniture more than sixty years ago (they were moving, and many of their possessions were lost in a flood. This was some of the new furniture that they were able to get at cost.) Grandma died seven years ago now, but she was experiencing dementia at the time.
I highly recommend this book.