Aunt Peggye Does the Hula

Last week I was in Boston for my great aunt Peggye’s 100th birthday. (Peggye is my maternal grandmother’s sister, and yes it’s spelled right. She added the terminal ‘e’ when she was fifteen and she insists that it be spelled that way.) She’s in incredible shape for her age, and still amazingly sharp mentally.

At one point during the day I was trying to explain to Aunt Peggye what I do for a living. She understands that  computers exist but knows basically nothing about how they work and has zero understanding of email. My attempts to explain led he to talk about her days in a secretarial pool and her manual typewriter. She retired at age 65 in 1977 (when I was five) and never used a computer in her life.

Her expectations for a relaxing retirement were crushed when her husband suffered a massive stroke about two years later. He never walked again and spent the next twelve years in a nursing home. Aunt Peggye never learned to drive, so she took a bus to see him every day. When Uncle Fred finally passed away, she told me she “got real active again”.

She joined a singing group (with her church I think) and went to nursing homes and the like to entertain. This while at the young age of 77. She told me that once they sang at a convent for a group of nuns.

What follows is (as nearly as I can remember it) what she said next:

After we sang, this little nun came up to talk to me. She was young and just cute as a button and shorter than me if you can believe it. (Aunt Peggye is five feet tall, if that.) She said she liked the way I rolled my eyes during one of the songs. I said that I would normally roll my hips but I didn’t feel right. There was a big crucifix, life-size. Six feet tall. As tall as you. How tall are you? Six feet. I said I didn’t feel right in front of the crucifix to move my hips. (Here Aunt Peggye shifted her hips back in forth in her chair in what I can only describe as the cutest imitation of a hula dancer I’ve ever seen.)

And the nun said to me “I think he would like it.”

I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.

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