ON A PERSONAL NOTE, I need to mention my dear friend Peg Loiacono who died last night of cancer at the age of 76. I first met Peg when the Sizzler I worked at closed down and I transferred to the nearest one. As usual my shyness was a barrier to making new friends but Peg somehow knew how to draw me out with her sense of humour and easygoing nature. Peg could size up people pretty fast and she must've somehow seen through my normal miserable bastard facade. Soon, not only were we good friends but also she became like a second mother to me. Peg was the traditional Italian mother who would welcome ANYONE into her home and immediately try to feed them. Within five minutes of entering her front door, you felt like you were family. That's the kind of person she was; she was a giver. Peg had gone through a lot in her life: she lost her husband to cancer 25 years ago and, in 2000, her son Richard was killed in Colorado. The last decade has also seen the death of a brother and two sisters. The loss of her son shattered her but she still managed to go on.
On top of all this, Peg was also a lot of fun and a million laughs. I have to say that, for those of you who never met Peg -- you was robbed! She was a soul worth knowing. Every visit was punctuated with laughter. Even at her age, Peg always seemed young. One of her favourite songs was Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" and she loved to dance around the living room when we played one of the mix cds I had made for her. Peg was always joking and laughing -- and boy, she could curse like a sailor which would send the whole room roaring with laughter. Every time I would drive up to her house, I would sit down at her kitchen table and we'd talk over a cup of coffee while she would usually be making a big pot of homemade sauce. I can't even begin to estimate how many movies we watched. "What've we got today", she would ask as I'd plop down a bag full of videos and, later, dvds. Or how many card games of rummy or "Spite and Malice" did we play . . . everytime she'd lose she'd always call me a "cheatin' bastard" while she laughed. It's the laughter that I'll remember most. We did so much laughing over the years.
It was only a couple months ago when she discovered she had cancer and her daughter Donna (who had now moved back into Peg's house to take care of her) told me the prognosis was poor. The last time I saw Peg was when Donna and her family invited me over for dinner. But 99% of the time I spent sitting next to Peg's bed holding her hand and talking. As the night was over, I gave her a kiss and said goodbye. As I stood up from my chair, she kept holding on to my hand as if she didn't want to let go. I think somehow deep down she must have known we would never see each other again and we were really saying goodbye. Despite all the evidence, I never let myself think that she would go and tonight, when I got the message that she was gone, I was still shocked and devastated and totally unprepared. Peg, I loved you so much. You truly were like a second mother to me and I can't think what I'm going to do without you. I only know that the world is a much bleaker, emptier place for me now. My heart is broken and I can't stop crying. I'm going to miss you so much.