Columns / Discourse / October 11, 2017

You’re alive Miss Piggie: reflecting on life and death

I was reading last week’s story on the ghost stories and the story about Miss Piggie and the Tri Delta Palace stuck out. Her name was Martha Louise Piggie, but everybody called her Louise, and she was a key figure in my life who provided stability, structure and order into my rather chaotic upbringing.

I was in kindergarten when Miss Piggie first met my mother. My mother had recently been ordered by the court to go to rehab after failing to pick up my sister and me from a babysitter. I can’t possibly imagine what my mother was going through but being a single mother raising two kids and facing the reality that she could lose us if she didn’t get her act together is something that changes a person. My mother needed something in her life during these trials and tribulations and Miss Piggie was that something.

Miss Piggie was a devout Christian who took the Bible as the literal word of God that was to be studied and applied to our daily lives. We would gather with about 20 other folks in an old beauty salon she owned that occupied the now-empty lot on the corner across from Kappa Kappa Gamma House. Items moved from here to her house are the source of the sinks and curtains in the basement and are by no means indicative of an illegal beauty salon.

I was taught to fear God at a young age which taught me the concept of discipline and self-control. A role the father figure might play in some traditional home settings was replaced with God. A great example of getting in trouble with God was when I came home crying because I didn’t have the courage to tell the teacher that I couldn’t watch “The Series of Unfortunate of Events” because it was Satanic and now feared that I would go to hell.

We would call ourselves the Galesburg House of Prayer and every Sunday we learned about the Bible and the ways of the Lord as seen by Miss Piggie and the other elders of the group. I was taught that homosexuality was a sin and that is was against God’s intentions. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, as we used to say. We also couldn’t listen to any music that wasn’t Christian music, as it was worldly and would pollute our minds. The same was said about PokŽmon, Harry Potter and anything else with an element of sorcery and magic. We also believed in faith based healing. My mother stopped my ADHD medicine against the wishes of my teachers and somehow my grades improved. My behavior in class, on the other hand…

The circumstances surrounding Miss Piggie’s death were tragically ironic. She died of a bowel obstruction. She suffered for weeks in her home and refused to go to the hospital, even after her family sent officers to her door on multiple occasions. She should be alive today if she put aside her faith and let the doctors do their jobs. I learned later that part of her adamant distrust for medical services might have stemmed from the fact that she had almost died after having her last child due to complications from a cesarean section surgery.

After her death, the strict rules which we were taught lost their importance. My world views changed and I started to take a more liberal stance on things as I progressed through high school. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that there is a lot of information packed into a person’s beliefs. I know if given the opportunity today, Miss Piggie would openly discuss her thoughts and beliefs and where they came from. Perhaps there was more to Miss Piggie’s story that I was never made aware of. Maybe if she was alive today, she’d have a different opinion on things.

Unfortunately, she can’t tell her story now but I will do my best to take the positive aspects of her life that live through me and share them with others. In doing so, I breathe life into this otherwise lifeless Knox College ghost story.

 

Joey Peterson

Tags:  homophobia mentors miss piggie

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