With incredible sensitivity, wisdom, and compassion, Robert Benson has mapped the loss so many of us witness as our parents and other loved elders age and have to give up the life and independence they once had. His lucid, touching, and spiritually rich account of his mother's process of change is made even more emotionally affecting by the fact that she is suffering from dementia. Benson and his siblings watch helplessly as she slips away from them; they feel the sting of losing the woman they depended upon for love and attention.
Through this lyrical account, we witness the decline of Peggy Jean Siler Benson whose nickname is Miss Peggy. An accomplished woman, she wore many hats as a mother and led a full and active life after the children were grown. But now it is time for her to move, to let go of many of the possessions collected over 70 years.
After Miss Peggy finds herself lost in a parking lot a mile away from home, she surrenders the keys to her car. One of her sons takes over her financial affairs. Benson's heart goes out to his mother after she moves to a new residence, losing her independence in the process. Now she must sign in and out of the building so her every move is monitored.
Benson laments that the woman who gave birth to him and looked after his every need is gone: "It is a difficult moment when you realize that someone who raised you, cared for you, cheered for you, stood by you in moments both large and small in your life, someone who once seemed to hold the whole world in her hands now does not know the day of the week, cannot make a list, or any of the other little things it takes to manage her life."
In her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard states: "Loss is the price you incur by being here — the extraordinary rent you have to pay as long as you stay." Moving Miss Peggy by Robert Benson provides a memorable portrait of this truth.