Big Sister Peg & Little Sister Alana
Photo: Peg and Alana on Peg’s wedding day.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & the Islands alumnus Little Sister Alana recently shared this personal story of her relationship with her Big Sister, Peg. Below is Alana’s story shared from her point of view, as shared with us.
“When I was ten my mom signed me up for Big Brothers Big Sisters, a really awesome non-profit that pairs up young people with mentors. I was matched with Peg, a 64 year old retired New Jersey woman who lived alone in Chatham, MA. Where I grew up there are a lot of retirees so it made sense that my Big Sister would be older, but Peg was not ‘old’.
Peg was a fast-talking, endlessly optimistic, hardworking, super-active woman. She was the president/member at one point of something like eight different clubs (the lions club, the newcomers club, the library club, a cooking club…) She had many friends and things to do but she never failed to make time for us. As an anxious and busy kid we would have talks about learning to say no to people, about taking care of ourselves, about slowing down.
Once a week or once every two weeks Peg would pick me up from my house and we’d spend a day together. She never ran out of ideas of things to do. One of our first times hanging out we went to every place in town that sold hot chocolate and rated them best to worst. When she found out I loved baking we’d go to her house to make fudge or Christmas cookies. She had a giant dog named Fritz who was sweet and made me less scared of the idea of her living alone. Peg had bad hips and knees, sometimes he would lean against her when she’d go up the stairs.
Sometimes we’d go to the movies (she once shared the only movie she ever walked out of was Kill Bill, too violent.) One time we went to the cemetery and came up with a fake life story for a random gravestone. We loved to tell people we were sisters and hear their reactions (your mother must have been incredible!)
Peg was aware of how much our BBBS needed other mentors, especially for boys, so she was constantly recruiting her friends. She introduced me to community service, selling raffle tickets for charities or volunteering at a summer camp for sick kids.
At one point in my early teens my mental health really declined. I wasn’t eating, I was always scared and I couldn’t sleep in my room at night, I’d just stay awake in the hallway. During that time when Peg would pick me up I’d usually just fall asleep immediately in her car. I’d wake up feeling guilty that I’d wasted our time together but she was always really kind about it and didn’t seem to mind. I hope she knew what a huge difference having her in my life was then.
When I was around thirteen Peg met Brian. He was also a member of the Lions Club and very kind. They fell in love. I helped Peg go ring shopping and eventually when she got married I was her maid of honor.
Every year on our sister-a-versary we would go have tea and be fancy, I’d eat a billion miniature sandwiches. Peg would hang up my art on her fridge and come see me when I would be in community theater plays. She made me feel important and loved.
Once I got to high school we started seeing each other less and less, more like once a month. I was getting older but I still needed her in my life and felt guilty that we weren’t hanging out as much. A few weeks before my sixteenth birthday I found out Peg had stomach cancer. Ten years ago today Peg passed away. I didn’t know how to react to her death when it happened, I didn’t react at all, I blocked it out. It took me a long time to be able to process it. I still feel like I’m processing it, but writing this and sharing the kind of person she was is helping.
I hope if you can you will consider being a mentor for a kid, and if you are a Big Sister or Brother in this program thank you. Having an adult like Peg in my life made a lasting difference for me. She was inspiring and silly and full of love for life. She lived fully and joyfully. I was incredibly lucky to know her and being her sister was (is) an honor.”
Thank you, Alana, for sharing your story.
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