Peggy: sixty years worth, ten years at a time

1952. That's Peggy's sister on the right. Dianne was (and is) timid, whereas Peggy was (and is) tomboyish. You might have guessed this from their body language.

1962. As I was looking at this photo trying to think of what to say about it, I had the thought: "I could just eat this little girl," but I realized it might be interpreted sexually when what I meant was that that I want to use my body to build a fort that would protect her from all the sad things that have since happened in her life, many of them caused by me. Even that doesn't capture what I feel when I look at this picture, but it's the best I can do. The sweetness, alertness, kindness, shyness, playfulness, innocence, tomboyishness, and femininity in her face is, well, when we talk about the sacred, I feel like saying, "But I feel the sacred all the time. Looking at this picture is one of those times."

1972. By now, we had been married six months, but hadn't known one another a year. This photo was taken on a canoe trip on the Pearl River near Jackson, Mississippi. I'm sure I put Peggy up to the pose because she was too shy to do such things naturally, and our relationship was still new, after all, despite the fact that we were married.

1982. We were building a shed at our home in Mississippi, and Peggy appears to be having an amiable interlude with a nail--either that or she's asking it not to bend when she drives it into the oak lathing. She insisted on the un-carpenter-like apparel and wouldn't wear anything on her feet but sandals. One day, we were splitting wood, and she dropped a large piece of post oak on her foot and broke it--the foot, of course. Silly me, I thought this meant a speedy trip to the hospital, but Peggy said, "I'm not going with my hair dirty," so I held her erect while she showered.

1992. Peggy was on figure skating teams in Oregon and in Minnesota. She then got into downhill skiing, and it and mountain climbing became her passions. I tried skating. skiing, and mountain climbing, but didn't care for them.

2002. Even I have summited the mountain in the photo, but it's a little one that you can scramble up. You've got to be willing to work hard and risk death to get up the ones that are technically challenging and prone to bad weather. Peggy couldn't get enough of them, so I became her support person, going on training hikes with her and keeping camp at trailheads. Mostly, though, she and a half dozen men (few women climb) would go off and leave me home, and that was fine with me. The red thing in her hands is an ice axe. It's good for probing for crevasses, climbing steep snow or ice, and self-arresting when you fall (you will fall).

2002. Those are cross country skis. Peggy and I did this together a fair amount, and we also snowshoed a little, but she found them boring compared to the excitement of downhill skiing, so she was forever going off with another carload of men to Hoodoo Ski Area or Willamette Pass. I don't like snow, so I don't miss cross country skiing much, but I would still like to go occasionally. Mostly, when we were going, we would simply drive to where the road was closed by snow and take a day trip from there. We have snow camped, and we have also skied to fire towers and spent the night in them. This photo was taken on a day trip, You can tell because the pad is too short for lying down (it's for sitting on), and the pack is too small for carrying everything we would need to camp. Bonnie was five in the photo. She's now 14 1/2 and blind. She still likes to play fetch.

2002. If the slope below her was as steep as she's making out, I doubt that Peggy would be holding her cap in her hand, yet she did go on rope climbs that people have been dying on for decades. Like many of Oregon's Cascades, this particular mountain has a bad reputation for "rotten rock," meaning rock that either comes off when you pull or push on it, or else falls on your head for no reason other than that your luck was bad. People have climbed Everest only to die in Oregon because mountain climbers aren't interested in safe mountains. I didn't like for Peggy to climb dangerous mountains, but it was in her blood, and I've never imagined that I had the right to tell her what she could or couldn't do (I subscribed to Ms Magazine for her when it appeared in the early '70s, but I was the only one who read it). I would be at a loss how to handle a subservient woman. On the one hand, it sounds sexy, but I don't know if I could respect her. I want influence, not control.

2012. Sad to say, but Peggy no longer engages in any strenuous activity, probably because of arthritis more than anything. She just took up drinking coffee, so in the photo she is having her daily brew of 3 parts vanilla soy milk to one part strong coffee. We try to find campsites with a good view and that (except for the road we drove in on) are so closed in by terrain or vegetation that we can let Bonnie roam freely. The thought of losing a 14 year old blind dog in the wilderness is simply too horrible to contemplate. You can see that we camped directly on the road, confident in the improbability of anyone coming.

Despite the fact that Peggy is the breadwinner in our family and has enjoyed a lot of traditionally male activities; she is all woman. And despite the fact that my bedroom is pink, I cry more easily than she, and my father was a transexual; I am all man. We have always given one another the freedom, and even the encouragement, to transcend traditional gender roles. Perhaps, this was made easier by the fact that we have always known who we are.


All Consuming said...

'subservient' = dull as hell. I'm pretty sure of that. Peggy is some woman, what a great post, your love shines through every paragraph. The pictures are brilliant and what a figure! I know you are aware how lucky you are to have her. She's ace. x

Chartreuse said...

Very inspiring love story. Wish I knew Peggy. I'm sure I'd like her. I'm losing my husband to an insidious form of brain deterioration. You've given me an idea that I should better document our 33 years together, if only to keep reminding myself of all that we have had. Be sure you treasure your partnership every day, because it's a terrible thing when a partner slowly disappears in front of your eyes.

Mim said...

Great post and a great adventurous happy woman.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a wonderful relationship. I'm happy for you both.

angela said...

Growing up with a domineering and violent father I was terrified that all men were like that. My hubby is not like that and I am so happy to now know that there are a lot of men like you. Peggy is very lucky to have found you and you are fortunate to have her. IRS men like you that gave me the courage to actually take the risk and let myself fall in love and marry. Thank you!

The Bipolar Diva said...

you have me crying. she's a very lucky woman. ♥ T

Helen said...

Your Peggy sounds like a woman everyone should have a chance to know! I absolutely love the way you wrote about her, about her journey, her personality, her grit. You are both quite fortunate to have found each other.

Robin said...

You are a FABULOUS Couple and compliment each other so perfectly!
You LOVE for one another (and for Bonnie) shows through every word!

I admire Peggy for her athletic abilities! I would have loved to climb mountains.... are so both "have always known who you are"... a wonderful Love Story - for sure!

Love to all 4,

♥ Robin ♥

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Snow, what a beautiful post about your Peggy!! I loved it!!

It gives me hope...I've always been outspoken and I frighten most men!

"I would be at a loss how to handle a subservient woman. On the one hand, it sounds sexy, but I don't know if I could respect her. I want influence, not control."

Do they even make such men any more???

lotta joy said...

I'm so glad you dedicated a post to such an admirable, brave and sexy woman. She had it all and lived life to the fullest, enjoying it HER way. What else can anyone say about their lives without sounding like they're bragging. YOU, dear snow, are doing the bragging for her and I admire you for that.

KleinsteMotte said...

This is avery humbling post.You allow us to see the very depth of what you see in her. ^) seems long but I think it mud t feel like it flew by. Congrats on this journey of 60 and may it carry on.

yoborobo said...

Peggy is a pearl. But you knew that. Wishing you many more years of happiness together.

kj said...

This is one sweet tribute. You are lucky to love like this, snow, and your admiration is butter cream icing.

I hope Peggy grins when she reads her life story as a love story

The chronology of photos is super great


christinerobinsonvoices said...

Snow, this is a beautiful tribute to Peggy. Like many of your readers who wonder (what she sees in you) what she's all about, it's good get some insight into the person who makes Snow tick.

She is a spirited, lovely person.

In all honesty, I felt kind of emotional reading this. In part because it's personal and insightful, and in part because there's so much that's familiar (Mississippi. Pearl River... places I grew up in/around.)

Thanks for sharing this. And happy birthday to Peggy.


The Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. Such a loving tribute to a wonderful woman.

PhilipH said...

Heartfelt reminiscences of your life with and love of the Peg O' Your Heart.

Beautifully constructed piece Snowy.

You are a fortunate guy in having such a life partner.

Kindest regard to you both.

Marion said...

You and Peggy are lucky to have each other. A beautiful write about your love/friendship/life. xo

A Plain Observer said...

i have missed your writing, my own fault; I have not visited.
A very nice post on Peggy. You mentioned you have caused some of the sad things in her life. I am sure you have also caused many happiness in it. A girl who climbs those mountains would not stay around for misery

ambernoone said...

Beautiful tribute to your partner in life. So important to have that intimacy, that "knowing" one another. Thank you for sharing.

Natalie said...

Thanks for inviting me to read such a heartfelt post, I am so glad you did. Wishing you a belated birthday Peggy, with many more love filled ones to come.xx :)