After enduring multiple health scares, Brandy Porche, LPC, was assigned a “church mom” who served as a pillar of support. In this Psychiatric Times article, she discusses learning the true gift of connection in this series on Women Who Inspire.

cartoon drawing of three diverse women's faces, smiling, standing together, with no eyes

I would like to introduce you all to Peggy Hayes, a woman who inspires me. Peggy is a favorite of many, but I am blessed to be able to call her my church mom. I met Peggy in December 2017. At the time, Peggy and I attended the same church. Peggy is 70 years young and a pure joy to be around. She is a jazzy, sassy, and sophisticated woman who instantly gains the respect and admiration of everyone she meets without solicitation. None of these descriptions can begin to describe the reasons she inspires me and many others.

In the last months of 2017, I experienced many health challenges. I was hospitalized 3 times and almost died. I was at the end of my graduate program, and I had to drop out for the semester due to my emergency hospitalization. I had my last surgery in December 2017. I was out of it mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Some of my church members and pastors visited me while I was in the hospital. I had not yet met Miss Peggy. When I was discharged from the hospital, I was on mandatory bed rest.

While at home resting, I received a voice message from Miss Peggy. I was completely out of it and did not return any calls. The next thing I know, I receive a text message from our senior pastor asking me why I had not returned Miss Peggy’s call. I had dozed off—when I woke up to the message, I immediately began to laugh. Who tells the pastor on a woman who has just left the hospital? And furthermore, why was the pastor bullying (I am being sarcastic) me into calling the woman? These were my thoughts as I was medicated and resting. I was cracking up. I got up enough energy to call Miss Peggy.

While I did not want to be bothered, due to everything I had been through, I knew that her only goal was to connect with me during this time in my life. We chatted for half an hour, and she asked me not to be a stranger. When I finally returned to church, I met Miss Peggy face-to-face. The first thing out of her mouth was, “Pastor assigned me to you. You are my daughter.” She gave me the biggest hug ever, and I just felt so comforted. Her hug provided an emotional release that I had not realized I needed. From that point on, we were connected. We connected during every church service after that.

I consider myself a giver, yet I have never met anyone with the same gift to give as Miss Peggy. She would bring me little gifts like scarfs to church because she saw that I like to wear them. If we went out to eat, she would give me her hat if I admired it. She gave from her heart, consistently.

Miss Peggy was best friends with another lady at church, Miss Claudette, who I loved very dearly. When Miss Claudette passed away, I was really shaken up by her death. I was working so many hours that I had not known about her recent illness, and therefore, I had not visited her. I felt guilty about this until Miss Peggy reassured me that Miss Claudette would instruct me to stay focused and finish my hours.

At Miss Claudette’s funeral, the church directions were that only the family could come up to view the body. Crying, I turned and asked Miss Peggy, “I won’t get a chance to say goodbye?” Miss Peggy walked me right up to the front to get in line so that I could say goodbye. Even though I am sure she was going through her own grief with the passing of her best friend, she took on a comforting role at the funeral and took care of everyone else. I am not sure I could have shown that strength.

Miss Peggy inspires us to love better, to comfort better, and to serve better. She is an inspiration to serve one another more lovingly and completely. She is the calm that we all need, and if I could bottle her spirit, I would share it with everyone. Saying that Miss Peggy is a blessing to my life and to the lives of many others is an understatement.

Read the full Psychiatric Times article with sources.


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