Peggy Ellen (Sommers) Lotz was born on a cool, crisp day in Vancouver, Washington. The high temperature was 45 degrees. I know that because I read it in the Farmer’s Almanac. The date was January 28, 1955. That makes today her birthday. Happy Birthday Peggy!
Peggy is my older sister (but not the oldest; that distinction goes to Gayle, who will get her story later).
According to family legend, Peggy first introduced herself to me by biting my big toe. I was a newborn, my mother was holding me. Apparently, at age 2¾, Peggy didn’t appreciate me stealing all of our mother’s attention. I very much wish this incident had been video-recorded, not just for historical posterity, but also because I know it would go viral on the internet, just like the “Charlie bit me” video. Besides, if I had the video it would also mark the only time in recorded history that Peggy ever did anything mean toward anyone else.
I’ve long since forgiven Peggy for biting me. It was easy because of who she was, is, and always will be.
Throughout my childhood and teen years, Peggy would say terrible things to me like, “I’m busting with pride over you” and “I’m you’re biggest fan.” Seriously. And she meant it. I’ve read about this thing called sibling rivalry; I just never experienced it. There’s a famous psychologist named Alfred Adler who wrote about how children who are encouraged can do nearly anything. Peggy is the most flat-out encouraging person I’ve ever met. She helped me believe in myself. And that biting incident . . . well, knowing Peggy, I probably deserved it.
Peggy is pure of heart. From age 2¾—to whatever age she’s turning today—Peggy has acted toward others with kindness. Everything she does is laced with good intentions. Teach special education children. Check. Get your Master’s degree and become a school counselor. Check. Be a force for defending children from abuse. Check. Be a fantastic mom. Check. Return to the regular classroom and teach another decade because you love teaching and you love children and they love you. Check. Take care of our mother who needs caretaking. Check.
Growing up, our mom always said Peggy would become a social worker because she had empathy for everyone, took care of injured animals, and was naturally the most amiable person in our family, on our block, and maybe on the planet. If you need something, call Peggy.
Peggy is also smart and funny. Like most of us, she’s at her funniest when she’s not even trying. Take, for example, some profound “Peggy sayings.” My favorites are, “Nobody’s gonna pull the wool over my shoulders” and “You just gotta keep your shoulder to the grindstone.”
When you see her next, you might want to ask her if she has a thing about shoulders.
She also loves it when I tell the story of how surprised she was that they didn’t make her get a new driver’s license when she moved to Pullman to go to Washington State University. Be sure to ask about that too.
Peggy, today is your birthday. You being born was a happy day in the world.
I hope you know I’ve forgiven you for the biting thing. I also hope you know how much I admire you for who you are and the kindness you spread in the world. I hope you know that I know, you are a gift to me, our family, and so many more people.
And I hope you know I’m busting with pride over you, because, as you probably already know, nobody’s pulling any wool over my shoulders.
I love you Peggy. Have a fantastic birthday. You deserve it.