Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Peary Birthday!

Peary and me with my brother Stephen, 1986
Today I celebrate the life of my childhood friend, Peary. My parents and Peary's parents lived and worked in Germany together before we were born. (My dad taught at a school for army children, and my mom was unable to use her own teaching license because the army wouldn't allow both spouses to work.) My mom told me recently that when they arrived in Germany, Peary's parents (Glenn and Carolyn) opened up their home and hearts in hospitality, and they eased the way for my parents as they adjusted to living in Europe (see photo on the far left). They were truly wonderful, warm people, and they enjoyed laughter.

One of the photos Peary sent me in the late 1980s
Peary was born in Germany but grew up in Colorado, and I remember visiting his family several times when I was younger. I always enjoyed his easy-going personality, friendly manner, and sense of humor. In our teen years we grew closer and began writing letters.

When I graduated from college and flew to Boston with my friend Debbie, we then went to Washington DC where my aunt and uncle had been living for the year. Peary flew out and met us there. After being tourists in DC, the three of us drove my aunt and uncle's car all the way back to Seattle, stopping shortly in Colorado to visit Peary's family and meet his new girlfriend (who later became his wife). At the time, Peary was a 20-year-old chain-smoking hippie, and I've always been a bit of a hippie (see us "choking" Ronald & Nancy Reagan's throats, albeit with smiles on our faces--we were friendly hippies!). I remember how deeply we felt the pain at the Vietnam memorial and the plight of the Vietnam MIA activists onsite. One evening in Washington DC we went out to a bar for drinks and deep personal conversation about life.

Later when I was in Japan, I loved to receive Peary's letters. Early in my relationship with Mike, a letter arrived, written on a paper towel! (Mike wasn't sure what to think about those weird Americans.) He was always creative in finding unique stationery. He would send me packages full of photographs he'd taken around Greeley, Colorado, and stories from working at the newspaper...and later at a hospital. We also share a deep love of music.

On one of his medical trips
Now the years have passed...Peary and his mom came to Oregon many years ago when his father died, and our family accompanied his to a memorial for his dad (who had Oregon roots). One time we had dinner with his family in Greeley when I visited Denver for work.

Although I rarely see Peary in person any more, we stay in touch on Facebook. He's married with children and grandchildren--in fact, he became a stepdad long before I had children myself, at a young age. He travels to South America each year as part of a team to help people who cannot afford medical care. His mom fought cancer off and on for many years, and earlier this year she succumbed to the disease. Peary was a faithful, dedicated, and loving son throughout his mom's illness. I imagine this Christmas will be a hard one without either of his parents.

I am not in frequent contact with very many of my long-time childhood friends, but I'm grateful to be in touch with Peary. He is a wonderful man and I feel honored to know him.
Peary with his wife Nancee and grandson

1 comment:

  1. Right on Marie! Great memories of you and my parents! Thank you!