I never thought I would join P.E.O., but I am currently in danger of becoming a de facto member.
I used to sit in my grandmother's kitchen and beg her to tell me what the letters P.E.O. stood for (a secret known only to members). My best guess then, in the 1950s, was "People Eat Onions." Now I'm thinking "Protect Each Other"? "Progressive Educational Order"?
My mother never joined during the years when she was working full-time and raising a family, but after her retirement at age sixty, she became an active member in Chapter DV in Boulder, Colorado.
In November of 2003 Mom fell down for about the fourth time in a month, not injuring herself but unable to stand up. As a result, her residence (mostly independent living) insisted that she move to somewhere primarily focused on assisted living.
My sister and I moved her to California--first to Mission Viejo, then to Santa Irena.
We located doctors, a dentist and a church, but we never did connect with P.E.O. in California. It just wasn't high on our list of things to do.
Mom, however, never stopped insisting that she had to get to a local chapter of P.E.O. This summer I promised her we would find a chapter in September, but then she was in the hospital for nine days and P.E.O. was once again postponed.
In the last couple of weeks, Mom has become ambitious again. She wants to get back to a normal lifestyle, and the two things she wants most are to walk again (no longer using a wheelchair) and to go to a P.E.O. meeting.
When the church invited Mom to a meeting of Young at Heart, the seniors club, I decided to take her so that she would have a P.E.O.-like luncheon experience, though it would not be the real thing.
"Oh, we're so glad you're here," said the deacon in charge of ministry to singles. "Why did you decide to come?"
"Well, actually we came because it would be like P.E.O., which we have not been able to locate in this area," I lamely explained.
"P.E.O.! Most of the women at that table to your right are P.E.O.s," the deacon said.
And the connection was made. Mom was invited to choose from three local chapters, including one that meets tomorrow. We plan to be there.
If the home where it meets has reasonably good wheelchair access.
If Mom is able to be mostly rational and does not interrupt the meeting with a detailed account of her entire life or a recitation of "Work the Titan, Work the friend...."
I will have to attend the whole meeting too, or (as the hostess suggested) wait out in the garden during the secret parts of the meeting. I need to be available in case Mom's behavior takes an odd turn or she insists on going to the restroom.
On the bright side, I may finally find out what the letters P.E.O. stand for.
Stay tuned for the report on tomorrow's big meeting.