Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pot Holes on Easy Street

Life has been a bit less than great lately.  Things are not BAD--I'm incredibly blessed.  Let's just say that Easy Street has developed a few pot holes lately.  There is still uncertainty in my job, we're right in the midst of some painful anniversaries, and I've had a lot of trouble sleeping off and on.  And let's face it, the view is less bright with bleary eyes, is it not?

When I start feeling this way, I think a lot about the late Peggy Chun, who inspires me greatly.  No, not Connie Chung!  Do you know who Peggy Chun is?  I have to admit that I had never heard of her until just a few years ago.

Peggy was born in Oklahoma but made her home in Hawaii.  When ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) took her twin sister, an artist, Peggy became an artist in tribute to her twin.  She became a quite well-known and beloved artist in Hawaii.  And then, she was diagnosed with ALS too.  She kept right on painting.  When she lost the use of her right hand, she learned to paint with her left.  When that also became impossible, she painted by holding the paintbrush in her mouth.  Eventually, ALS robbed her of that ability too.  Did that stop her?  Hell no!  Peggy kept on painting by using a computer program that read her eye commands.  The woman was incapable of breathing on her own, and yet she taught classes in painting.  She wrote a book.  She kept on living her life, communicating solely through eye movements.

Eventually it became clear that she was losing even the ability to control her eye movements, and that it was time to turn off the ventilator.  But not before Peggy finished her bucket list.  With the help of friends and family, she enjoyed a final tub bath, a campfire, a ride on the Superferry, and a going away party in her front yard that lasted all day and night, the electric cord to her ventilator run between the beer coolers.  Her bucket list completed, Peggy passed away in November of 2008.

And so, on those mornings when I lie in bed, weary from lack of sleep, already stressed about the day ahead, wishing I could pull the covers over my head, I think of Peggy Chun.  I think, if she could face ALS and say, "You will not keep me from the things I want to do, and you will not take me until I am ready to go," then surely to goodness I can drag my lazy butt out of bed and face those little pot holes on Easy Street.

The artwork that accompanies this post has nothing to do with Peggy Chun; it is art created by Lil Sweetie using an Iphone app called SpinArt.  Peggy Chun's artwork is lovely and can be easily found by Googling her name...I just wanted to avoid infringing on any copyrights held by her family.