As far back as I can remember, my Uncle Lynn loved to tease me. He got a real kick out of it and we loved to banter. For a reason that I still don’t know, he called me “Peggy Sue”. Everytime he saw me, he’d call me Peggy Sue and ask for a kiss (This is already hard to write). As a child, it was funny. I’d respond with “That’s not my name” and run away. As I turned into a surly teenager, I’d scowl at him and mutter how it wasn’t my name and not to call me that. It eventually turned into me not even responding to him until he used my actual name. When I was a young adult, I tolerated the name, rolling my eyes at him as I said hello. As I matured, I really started to see how special the name was.
It wasn’t long after I started enjoying the nickname that my uncle wasn’t feeling well. It was cancer. Lung cancer. He was a heavy smoker and had spent most of his adult life working in the mines. He had just retired earlier that year, his plan to be at home with my aunt, enjoying his family and friends. It didn’t look good and we were all preparing for the worst. This was in October, 2008. Days before Christmas, my aunt and uncle got a call from his doctor. The cancer was operable! What an amazing gift. They scheduled him to have surgery in January. The surgery went smoothly and they were able to remove all the cancer from his lungs. But he wasn’t improving.
The cancer had spread to his brain and he got weaker and weaker and smaller and smaller. He died in June. My heart broke watching my aunt and cousins at his funeral. I only remember bits and pieces of that day. I remember picking up my grandma from the nursing home to attend the funeral. I remember how green the country side was. I remember I wore a blue dress. I remember my dad speaking. I remember the tears. And I remember thinking I’d give anything to be called Peggy Sue just one more time.