Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Today is my mother’s birthday. I never forget. How could I?
She loved birthdays – perhaps even more than Christmas – and that was a lot!  Just like a child, she’d be so excited! On the morning of her birthday, she’d wake up early, get all cleaned up, don something special and then she’d sit down with a pot of coffee or iced tea and wait for her big day to unfold.
And it always unfolded in a way she enjoyed. Not one person who knew my mother would have disappointed her on her birthday. Why, it would have been like disappointing a six-year old!
When my dad was living, he always lavished her with gifts, chocolates and flowers – and he usually took her out to dinner at a nice restaurant.
Since I was an only child, my children were her only grandchildren. I taught them early that their grandmother’s birthday was a very special occasion and they never forgot. She adored them and they her.
She lived 85 years, and right up until her last birthday, just a month before she died, we made a big deal of "her" day.
She was in a Rehab Center. I took cupcakes, ice cream and soft drinks, and, with a little help, was able to serve it to her, several of her grandchildren, and a special friend. She had a lot of presents to open and, like a child, she was so excited she had trouble getting them opened without help.
I’ll never forget the look on her face as she sat up in bed surrounded by colorful ribbons and paper and gifts. A four year old couldn’t have looked any more pleased than my mother did at that moment. Yet, knowing this was almost certainly her last birthday made it a bittersweet occasion. I excused myself long enough to go to the restroom and wipe away tears I was unable to hold back.
Four weeks later, she passed away, without ever enjoying any of her new gifts.
This is one of those memories that delivers pleasure and sadness at the same time. Remembering how she looked on her birthday brings a smile to my lips, but realizing I'll never see her like that again quickly takes it away.
Like love and hate, pleasure and pain seem very close sometimes.   

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Alone in Darkness

Always in darkness, I’ve been
wary of peculiar shadows and
mysterious sounds never seen
nor heard in the light of day. 
“Expanding and contracting –
nothing to worry about,” he’d say
when I was fearful in the night.
It was easy, then, to curl up and
go to sleep, feeling safe beside him.
Alone in darkness now, ghostly
silhouettes mock my inability to
fall asleep and persistent clatter
taunts me for my incapacity to
feel secure without him. 
I dare not close my eyes for fear
that what I let pass may be more
daunting than that which I confront.
I wait for dawn to swallow up the
darkness before I sleep. 
Tho’ he’ll soon be beside me again
and I will slumber serenely, ignoring
fearful shadows and derisive noises,
my utmost dread is that, one day, I'll
find myself alone in darkness again!
                           ©2015 Peggy Toney Horton~



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

You Can't Pray Hard Enough

A friend was telling me about the many illnesses and deaths she’s heard about recently. Along with the boatload of sad stories she related, there was also a profound statement:
“Honestly,” she said, “it seems you can’t pray hard enough or long enough to cover all the problems these days!”
She’s right.
Almost every day, I get a phone call from someone asking me to put them on my personal prayer list. The list grows longer and longer – and I spend more time on my knees than I ever have. Mentioning each person by name gets increasingly difficult. And I have to admit that sometimes my mind is full of questions: Is God listening? Is He answering any of these prayers the way people hope they’ll be answered?
Is it wrong to speculate?
In the past week alone, three of my acquaintances have died and two have been diagnosed with terminal illness. In my own family, one child was hospitalized for six days and another ignored her doctor’s advice to be admitted for treatment. She has a serious illness and will eventually be forced to get help, but for now, she’s buying some time because it’s a busy season for her at work. Furthermore, my husband is scheduled for surgery this Friday, May 8th. He’s having a colon resection.
Another member of my family has become someone we barely recognize. Her decline was incremental and hard to detect, but when we finally started to notice the difference in her, it was shocking! She remembers her childhood well, but not much of the recent past. Her mind has deserted her body, it seems. It’s tragic!
A good friend has three grown children. Two of them are fighting serious disease. This friend and I talk almost every day and pray for each other’s children continuously.
Why does illness and death suddenly seem so much more prevalent than it used to? Is it because I and the people I know are getting older? Or is it just the natural progression of things?
Probably. But it’s scary.
Outside my window, clouds scud across a star-filled sky and hover over the dark ridges. For a moment I return to my youth and see two young girls strolling barefoot through the small town where they live. They sit on the grass beside the river and giggle when waves from a passing paddleboat splash them liberally. They’re healthy and happy!
I smile.
And a tear runs down my cheek reminding me of the sadness in my heart.