9-13-35 ~ 4-21-23
Peg Buckley was born on Friday, September 13, 1935 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY to Margaret and Arthur Damm. Her mom wanted to name her Nellie. However, the Catholic Church required Saint names in 1935 and the saint’s name for Nellie was Helen. Go ahead, say it out loud. Helen Damm. It’s hilarious. Hence, she ended up Margaret Nellie Damm. Her family called her Margue (pronounced with an emphasis on the G). Her kids were lucky enough to call her Mom, Mommy, Mommo and Mama – and occasionally, Mother, but only when it was necessary. She was thrilled to be Grandma Bubbles to her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In 1967, the family moved from Brooklyn “to the country,” AKA Massapequa, NY on Long Island. From there Peg lived in Mt. Kisco, NY, Kauai, HI, Siesta Key, FL and Sarasota, FL. She forged lifelong friendships and made lasting impressions wherever she was.
Peg worked as a secretary for the FBI (perhaps that’s where her love for ALL those types of television programs began), AT&T as a long-distance operator, NY Telephone Company, where she was responsible for the implementation of Wang computers in the legal department and NYNEX after divestiture.
Those jobs were stepping stones for her real work.
Peg walked her talk. A self-described peacemaker, Peg was a tireless crusader for civil rights, migrant workers, women’s rights, children’s causes, and anything that sparked a bit of fury in her; she wanted things to be right, fair and just. These are values she raised her family with. We have and will continue to honor her teachings.
A lifelong questioner of all things spiritual, it was only natural that Peg started her journey learning meditation. She studied shamanism. She became a Reiki master. She found her way to tarot cards. She was a gifted reader who read hundreds of clients over the years including more than a few celebrities. She was an equally gifted teacher of the tarot.
Peg’s greatest learning adventure happened in Kauai, Hawaii. While there, Peg studied the seven principles of Huna with Serge Kahili King. She was a glorious Hawaiian Shaman who kept the company of Play Bear and Serious Bear.
On Thursday morning before she left this earthly plane, she recited the principles she lived by every day.
· IKE– The world is what you think it is.
· KALA– There are no limits, everything is possible.
· MAKIA – Energy flows where attention goes.
· MANAWA – Now is the moment of power.
· ALOHA – To love is to be happy.
· MANA – Power comes from within.
· PONO – Effectiveness is the measure of truth.
Peg ran retreats all over the world. She loved laughing meditations. She loved labyrinths. She loved breathing exercises. She loved connecting with people from every walk of life. She LISTENED. She was not a passive listener; she was an active listener. You always felt heard.
She read voraciously and had eclectic taste in reading. She had many bookshelves filled with spiritual and poetry volumes. Her most influential spiritual teacher was Thich Nhat Hanh. Her favorite poet was Billy Collins. We think her favorite genre had to be mysteries and gore. She leaves behind journals and notebooks filled with millions of words; sharing her poetry, her innermost thoughts and her love of this life she lived.
She tried her hand at knitting, crochet, needlepoint, Zentangle, sculpture and even painting.
Bar none, one of Peg's favorite inventions was the DVR. No weeknight was complete without Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. You would have thought Amy Schneider was her own child by the way she cheered her on during her reign. If the words NCIS were in the title, she watched it. CNN and MSBNC kept her informed of the news of the world. CBS This Morning let her know what was happening on a daily basis. She jumped over to the Today show on Sunday's to visit with Willie Geist. The Hallmark channel kept her entertained day in and day out. We laughed out loud at the show Ghosts. We binge watched the Spring Baking Championship from the first season until the last. TV provided amazing companionship when she was home. She was “friends” with each and every person she watched on TV.
Her favorite word was serendipity. One of her catch phrases was Holy Jamolee. And we ALL know her very favorite sentence was, “While you’re up…” For the record, more often than not, none of us were “up.”
She welcomed you with “Aloha!” She thanked you with “Mahalo.”
She adored pretty, sparkly things! She enjoyed fine crystal for eating, drinking and serving. She collected Mother Earth crystals for protection, guidance and meditation. Her dishes were vibrantly colored. She wore glorious scarves. Her eyeglasses were statement pieces. She had an abundance of well-loved jewelry. She changed her pocketbook with every outfit. Her toenails HAD to be glittery, preferably in the pink family. She never left the house without lipstick on. She thoroughly embraced the Sarasota boutique Oh My Gauze! with a rainbow of color hanging in her closet. Each piece of her artwork told a story. Her home was a warm, bodacious, colorful, light filled, magical, peaceful space. She held court on her throne and we loved (and teased) her for it.
She loved to cook and was of the full belief “why use one recipe when you can combine many.” She loved Penzey’s spices and had a cabinet full of them. She loved kitchen gadgets. She enjoyed dinner parties, oatmeal under the oaks, brunch, restaurants by the water and gathering with her people.
She loved Sarasota for its culture and was a member of every art/dance/theater/opera company in the area. She loved museums. She loved galleries. She loved shops that had whimsical items.
She had a great wanderlust. She had sensational experiences all over the world. She adored China. The Cliffs of Mohr took her breath away. Paris on New Year’s Eve with her friend Helen was an oft spoken about adventure. She believed it was terribly unfair that she had no Italian in her because Italy spoke so strongly to her.
She was, in a word, MARVELOUS.
Peg’s final lasting lesson to all of us was to teach us how to live while dying. To be thoroughly optimistic and full of hope while at the same time, realistic. To surround herself and others in golden light and with golden hearts. To accept the end of her life with grace and laughter and endless measures of love.
Her last words to her many friends were, “I hope I see you again someday.” Her soul sisters and brothers connected with her on deep level and will most certainly meet up with her again. Look for the signs.
Her sister Nancy and her sister Rosemary have lost their middle sister. She was predeceased by her brother Art and “her baby,” her brother Charles (when she was eight) who she loved forever.
She bequeaths to the world, her greatest legacy, her ohana, her family.
The Pinques: Maggie, Marco, Peter and Isabella.
The Stephens: Annemarie, Ted, Caitlan (Kyle, Luca, Alden & Emmett Reed), Joshua, Nathaniel and Jennifer (Dalton & Lorelai Leeman).
The McCarthys: Jane, Brian, Colleen and Doug.
The Buckleys: Tom, Kim, Jack, Lily, Kate and Molly.
To quote Aunt Nancy, our days will be a little dimmer for a while.
We must take a moment to call out her physicians and their staff. Over the years she raved about her excellent care and we couldn’t agree more.
Oncology: Dr. Elizabeth Guancial, Arin Jackson, Nurse Practitioner, Bree, RN
Moffitt Radiation Oncology: Dr. Dan Fernandez
Gynecology: Dr. Toni Kilts
Cardiology: Dr. Mark Ramos, Stephanie, RN
Ophthalmology: Dr. Keye Wong
Family Medicine & Geriatrics: Dr. Soordal Prakash
Peg participated in a gynecological support group, THRIVE, run by Elizabeth Bornstein and Carolyn Primus. It was her safe place to go where she could share exactly how life was treating her with others going through similar situations. Twice a month she gave herself permission to be fully and completely real. Her life was enriched by the women in her group.
At the end of her life Peg was exquisitely cared for by Tidewell Hospice.
There are not enough superfluous adjectives to thank her nurse, Angela Barrs. Angie is a breath of sunshine who brought a soft, calm demeanor along with kindness, compassion and astute knowledge of what could happen as the months passed. She made the whole family feel comfortable every step of the way and never pulled any punches. Her beautiful soul and her great laugh will be remembered by us forever.
Huge thanks to Donna Darcangelo, the nurse who arrived late at night and stayed until we were stable. She sat with us, sang with us, laughed with us, cried with us, and held Peg and our hands. She arrived exactly when we needed her the most and for that we are grateful beyond measure.
Thank you to Brenda Meldrum, who answered the phone at 4:00am and helped talk us off the ledge. Her knowledge and experience were precisely what we needed, when we needed it.
We extend thanks and love to Nidia Juarbe – CNA, Carol Avellino – CNA, Carol Vogel – LMT, Lisa Long – MSW, Beth Palmer – Wing Span player and spiritual sharer, Sherry Cleckner – RN and Elizabeth Wilson – RN. If we have forgotten anyone we apologize, please know how important you were to Peg.
Please do not send flowers. PLEASE make a donation in her name to the amazing organization that provided so much tender care to her.
Tidewell Hospice: https://tidewellfoundation.org/donate/
A Florida Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, May 19 from 11-1 at the Village Gardens Club House located at 5098 Village Gardens Drive, Sarasota, Florida 34234.
A New York Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 17 at The Hudson Valley Writers Center located at 300 Riverside Drive, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591.
Published in the Herald-Tribune
A week has passed in the life of Peg and Maggie.
Multiple family texts have been sent back and forth. It is imperative to keep everyone up to date; when you’re not here it is a guessing game. When you ARE here it is a guessing game. It is the double-edged sword of caregiving.
Nidia, Peg’s regularly scheduled CNA is away so there has been adjusting to different folks at different times. I am rather amused that she’s vacationing in Brooklyn where it has been hotter than in Florida.
Last week was an “up-ish” beginning of the week. Spirits were high, energy was high.
This week has been a recovery week and not so up. New medicine routines have been established. There’s another new med hitting tomorrow and another change scheduled for Sunday. Each change is a “what will happen next” event. So far, we’ve done a fairly good job of staying on top of what’s best.
Yesterday we had reached critical mass in the kitchen. No eggs. No milk. No cold cuts. Only one lemon left. (This is perhaps the most egregious offense.) It’s been a “low” week so I didn’t want to leave mom alone for too long.
You think to yourself, how long could it take to get groceries? WELCOME to Florida. Where every light is 100 minutes long. Where even though there are three lanes for cars it still takes forever to get anywhere. Where you need to go to multiple places to get the groceries you require because each place has slightly different/better stuff. It’s a solid two hours every time. No joke. This was for three stores. NEXT TO EACH OTHER she yelled from the keyboard.
So, what was I to do?
Enter Angie, Peg’s nurse. On Thursday’s she has a zoom meeting scheduled at 12:30 that typically lasts upwards of three hours. She normally takes the meeting in the car. Well, well, well, look at that. The perfect solution. I asked her if she wanted to work in the office and I would run out. SHE SAID YES! (This also requires a yell.)
I was able to get more lemons (::: whew :::) and she was able to sit at a desk.
Now, if you know me, you know I pride myself on being a 5-star B&B (and Uber, right kids?). So of course, I came home and made lunch for everyone. It was so nice knowing I could run out and Peg was with someone who frankly, was far better equipped to handle any emergency than I am.
We have decided this will be our new Thursday routine. (Note to self: find out Angie’s favorite foods and snacks and treats…)
I read mom all of the comments. She’s loving them. I like to think it helps keep friends and family in the loop of what’s happening on the frontlines.
I’ll keep you posted.
PS - the title *would* be better if I was actually a Star Trek fan, but let's face it, some things are iconic.
As many of you know, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in December 2020. My sister Jane got on the first plane out of New York, mask fully in place, and got herself to Florida to be with our mom. She managed the diagnosis, the setting up of many, many appointments, the day to day living of life and working full time.
In May of 2021, our family began rotating who would be with mom. Each one of us bring something new and different to the caregiving table. Each one of us has “other parts of our lives” happening at the same time.
My mom said to me, “I once wished I could spend time with each of you all by yourselves as adults. Who *knew* I would have that wish come true.”
Jane and I began alternating five week shifts over the last year. Five weeks in Florida followed by five weeks in New York. Our sister Annemarie and brother Tom have come when they have been able to. Although they may not be physically in Florida, their love, care and compassion is supremely evident every day.
Caring for a sick parent is emotional whiplash.
Peg has been independent her entire adult life. She has lived alone. She is a tremendous cook. She can also bake. She is a voracious reader. She loves bright and beautiful clothes, jewelry, and furnishings. She has probably over a million words written in a myriad of notebooks. She has many people who love and care about her who are friends who became family. She is absolutely on top of all things current in the news. She loves all things FBI, NCIS, The Enforcer, Magnum, firefighting, policing, detectiving on TV. The Hallmark channel is also a favorite. British TV makes her very happy.
She is my teacher of all things metaphysical, which for the record, I made fun of in the beginning.
Imagine when your life is ending and you chose to go out with humor and love and grace.
You give up your independence. You give up your kitchen. (You still ask for Beef Wellington because why not. Nope. I haven’t made it.) Your sight goes and you can’t read. You fall asleep listening to audible books. You’re no longer steady on your feet and you need assistance with all things bodily related. Your reliance on others is real.
Hospice comes in and they provide much needed help for the primary caregivers. Angie is her nurse. She checks vitals, asks important questions, makes sure the meds are filled and has a vast repertoire of knowledge for what comes next. Nidia helps her in the shower three times a week and slathers on a gorgeous lavender cream so Peg is smooth and feeling special. Lisa comes in monthly for mental health check ins. Beth comes and plays games with her and talks Reiki and body healing and all the other things Peg is known for. Carol comes and does reflexology. They are professional, amazing, beautiful human beings who have often lived with great loss. It makes them compassionate beyond measure.
It takes a village to raise and then to maintain a family.
Our mom is willing to discuss death. She isn’t afraid of it. She’s just annoyed and sad she won’t be here to see all of her legacy continue to thrive and grow and live their best lives.
For Christmas she gave each of her kids a copy of her will, her power of attorney, and her DNR.
She has begun to go through her belongings and mailing out special pieces of jewelry with the origin story of the piece.
Her artwork has invisible post it notes on each piece of who is getting what.
Caring for an extremely intelligent adult is still exhausting when you are responsible for all the same things you are responsible for when caring for a toddler. Get up, make coffee, make breakfast, clean up breakfast, think about lunch, make lunch, clean up lunch, make dinner, clean up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Plan it. Shop for it. Unload it. Make it. Sweet baby Jesus.
Jane and I have learned we are better together. To have someone to bounce stuff off of. We have spent more time together in the past two years than we have spent in probably all of our lives. We have learned to laugh really hard at each other because getting annoyed at who we are as humans is mean spirited and counter productive to our cause. And yes, sometimes we are tired and cranky. But we want the same result.
We have one chance to walk someone home. To do it with love. With kindness. With grace. It is an honor and a privilege.
I’ll keep you posted.