Thursday, December 15, 2016

Don't Cut That Cake!

I made eight dozen chocolate chip cookies this evening. Mr. H. assisted. While we worked, we reminisced about all the past years that cookies and other goodies were made in this kitchen, not only at Christmastime, but year around. These are the times we enjoy. They make us feel warm and grateful and happy.
And they make us smile.
Two of our girls began at a young age hanging around the kitchen watching me cook – asking questions, wanting to stir this or that, chop something or create their own concoction. This was not always a good idea.
The eldest took a cooking class at school and often brought home a recipe that she just had to try on the family. I was lenient, not wanting to quash her zest for the culinary arts. So I’d leave the kitchen and let her make dinner, thus, our family ate some things we weren’t crazy about – with all the good humor we could muster.
However, I’m afraid her older brothers didn’t muster so well. When they learned their sis was trying out a new recipe, they’d whisper and laugh behind their hands – and sometimes blatantly whine, “Oh, no! Do we have to eat that?”
But Christmastime was different. They never once shunned the goodies their two sisters made then. The girls baked dozens and dozens of cookies of all kinds, working every day until the numerous tins we owned were full of delightful treats. One year, the largest tin we had was filled to the brim – and then some – with decorated sugar cookies. Oh, how they loved cutting out the dough with Santa, snowman, christmas tree, wreath, and star cookie cutters, spreading creamy icing on them and then sprinkling each with colored sugars and other decorations. They tried to outdo each other with their designs and I’m pretty sure, when my back was turned, some were consumed, too.
Our son once brought a friend for a visit when the cookie making was in progress and the two of them ate so many warm, decorated sugar cookies, I had to make them stop for fear they’d be sick.
The years passed quickly and, suddenly, our son was married. His wife fit right in. She liked to bake, too. One Saturday, just before Christmas, my young daughter-in-law and I spent the whole day in the kitchen making two Santa cakes – one for my family and another for her to take home. My kitchen was a mind-boggling mess when we finished. Red and green icing somehow managed to stick to everything – table, stove, refrigerator, counter tops, the floor, and yes, our hands and faces had a few speckles, too. Clean-up was a major task, but we did it together, laughing and admiring our creations.
On Christmas Eve, mine was the centerpiece on my table. Everyone oohed and aahed over it, but no one wanted to cut it. “It’s too pretty to cut!” was the agreed-upon rationale. We enjoyed looking at it for several days, but still, even after the holiday was over, nobody wanted to be the first to cut into the beautiful Santa cake.
When the uncut cake finally began to show signs of deterioration – and mold, I was forced to pitched it in the trash can. Even so, making it was an enjoyable experience I’ll never forget!
All of the girls became excellent cooks. I suppose letting them mess up my kitchen and eating a few less than perfect concoctions over the years paid off.
This year, while I make cookies and fudge and other goodies, it’s nice to revisit those years when my young children were just learning how wonderful the holidays can be when you share the love with everyone around you.
And I learned – You can’t have your Santa cake and eat it, too! 



Saturday, November 19, 2016

It Won't Be Long Now!

When we’re young and our parents are responsible for all the shopping, baking, and decorating, it’s easy to love this time of year, but as we get older, everything becomes more difficult. Some grandparents, finding it too exhausting to get out and shop, start giving money in cute little gift cards instead. The tree that once stood tall enough to touch the ceiling in your grandparents’ living room has, in many cases, become only a treasured memory, and a small table tree is now the reality.

Grandma still finds time to bake cookies though! That’s always one of the nicest treats about Christmas Eve. Kids can usually eat as many cookies as they want without mothers scolding them – unless they’re really going overboard, of course.

As I think back to years past – way back to my childhood – I remember nothing but happy times. I can’t recall even one time that my mother was too tired to fix a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. And I have not one shred of memory of anything but happy times throughout the holiday season! 

Nothing but wonderful memories!

Fast forward to the years when our children were small. We did it all, too: the Thanksgiving dinner, the Christmas shopping, decorating, and baking. And we did it with a smile. I like to think our children have the same happy memories of the holidays that I do.

It’s odd, I think – now that we’re nearing the autumn of our years, we do less and yet, it seems so much more difficult than it used to be. Perhaps it’s supposed to be that way. We had our years of doing for everyone else and now it’s our turn to sit back and enjoy it without having to do all the work.

 I wonder, though... why isn’t it as much fun as it once was?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Coming Home for Christmas


As a frequent flier with millions of miles in the air, I never tire of reading this story...

As Jerry sat down in his aisle seat, he began ruffling through his papers. He took out his computer; he had work to do. It was a week from Christmas; he wanted to get all his work done on the flight. He smiled as considered a quick prayer, "Please God, let there be an empty seat next to me." His eyes glanced at the young man in his row next to the window; he wore a red tag that read "Minor Traveling Unattended." Their eyes met. Jerry smiled,

"I'm Jerry. You must be about seven years old." Michael replied, "You must not have kids."

"Why do you say that?" He reached into his wallet to show him pictures, "Here are my boys."

"You should have known I was six."

The captain said over the speakers, "Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff." Jerry leaned over, "Right about now, I say a prayer and ask God to keep the plane safe and to send angels to protect us." Michael said, "I'm not afraid of dying, because my momma is already in heaven."

"I'm sorry," Jerry said.

"Why are you sorry?" the boy asked.

"I'm sorry you don't have your momma here with you. Are you going to be with your dad?" It seemed to Jerry like an obvious question. "I don't have a father."Jerry pushed his briefcase further under his seat. No dad, and a mother who had died, and he's flying half-way across America alone next to him.

After returning from a tour of the cockpit with his own wings, he went to his seat, pausing to look at his bag that carried all of his possessions. Michael buried his face in his hands and began to sob. Jerry rubbed his back and said, "What's the matter buddy?" All Jerry got were muffled words, "I don't know my grandma. Momma didn't want her to come visit and see her sick. What if Grandma doesn't want me? Where will I go."

"Michael, do you remember the Christmas story? Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus? Remember how they came to Bethlehem just before Jesus was born? It was late and cold, and they didn't have anywhere to stay. Well, God was watching out for them. He found a stable with animals...."

"Yes, I know Jesus...." Then he closed his eyes, lifted his head and began to sing. His voice rang out with a strength that rocked his tiny frame, "Jesus loves me...this I knowwwww. For the Biiiible tells me so....." Other passengers turned to see the little boy.

"You have a great voice." The boy stopped and said, "My momma says I have pipes like my grandma. She sings in the choir."

Jerry smiles as he said, "I think you two will be taking over that choir." The seat belt came on and the flight attendant said they were approaching O'Hare. "Will you go with me?" Michael asked, now serious.

"I wouldn't miss it in the world. Of course." We both followed the flight attendant down the jetway. Michael's eyes brimmed with tears, and he reached up to have Jerry carry him. Then they heard the rattle of fast approaching footsteps and a woman saying, "Is that you Michael?" We both felt the warmth in her voice, "Oh, baby. come here. Grandma loves you so much. Let go of that nice man. I need a hug."

Michael's grandma stroked his arm and picked up his bag. "You've got folks waiting for you out there, Michael. You've got aunts and uncles and cousins." Jerry did not know whether the flight attendant had told her or whether God had provided an internal prompt, but his grandma began humming and then broke into the reassuring words...."Jesus loves me, this I know...." Had she shared that song years ago to Michael's mother. Whatever the reason, Michael leaped into her arms. As they crossed the threshold, cheers erupted. A tall man tugged on Michael's ear and pulled off the red sign around his neck. It no longer applied. Michael was home for Christmas!

...Source Unknown

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Long Talk With Liza


       Anyone who has a cat knows that cats don’t like change! Right? Well, Liza got a double dose of it this morning. And I paid for it!
I look and feel like I’ve been in a fight with a mountain lion!
After being up all night, we (Liza and I) couldn’t sleep this morning because my granddaughter, Carson, had a pre-scheduled appointment with her grandpa for some car repairs. So – Liza had to deal, not only with not sleeping late beside me – but also, with someone who is usually not here, coming into “her space” before she’d even had breakfast! If cat stares could kill, Carson would be... well, you know.
Liza likes Carson, she just likes her schedule more: sleep, breakfast, sitting with me while I have coffee, catch up on news and pet her. Then a nap. But none of that happened, at least not the way she’s used to it happening. She had to eat while being watchful of Carson walking around, wasn’t able to sit with me and watch news, and got no petting at all! And somewhere along the line, she decided enough was enough!
I was sitting on a bar stool in the kitchen and, without warning, Liza – not the most graceful cat you’ve ever seen – took a leap and landed half-on and half-off my lap. I let out a blood-curdling scream as she dangled there for several seconds with extended claws planted deeply into my legs. She finally let go and took off like a shot, probably scared by the scream. Blood seeped from several long scratches on both legs and we didn’t see Liza again until after Carson left.
I doctored my wounds and Liza finally came out of hiding. Her wide-eyed, innocent look was unbelievable! She acted like nothing had happened, as cats are famous for doing.
“What’s happening?” she seemed to say.
We had a long talk. I explained that she needs to learn to be a little more accepting of people who visit. “We all like our schedules,” I told her, but things can’t always go our way.” Ignoring me, she walked over and stood by the refrigerator – meaning, “Isn’t it time for lunch now?”
After lunch, I told her that I may take her to the local animal shelter if she doesn’t learn to adapt to changes.
By the way she washed her face while I was talking, I don’t think she was very worried. J

Monday, September 12, 2016

More Thoughts to Ponder




If, in a baseball game, the batter hits a ball, splitting it right down the center with half the ball flying out of the park and the other half being caught, what is the final ruling?
Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the batteries are dead?
Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
What hair color do they put on the drivers licenses of bald men?
Why can't women put on mascara with their mouth closed?
Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a race car not called a racist?
When does it stop being partly cloudy and start being partly sunny?
Why do caregiver and caretaker mean the same thing?
Why are there Interstate highways in Hawaii?
Do you wake up or open your eyes first?
Do people in prison celebrate Halloween.... if so how?
What do people in China call their good plates?
What are the handles for corn on the cob called?
If the funeral procession is at night, do folks drive with their headlights off?
When your photo is taken for your driver's license, why do they tell you to smile? If you are stopped by the police and asked for your license, are you going to be smiling?
Why are women and men's shoe sizes different?
How come you can kill a deer and put it up on your wall, but it's illegal to keep one as a pet?
Does vacuuming count as Aerobic Exercise?
Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?
How do you handcuff a one-armed man?
If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him - is he still wrong?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Day of Prayer


Before 9-11

In my little corner of the world today, a warm, sunny day is predicted; a fitting day to bow our heads in prayerful silence and recall what happened on this day fifteen years ago – 9-11-01. It was a beautiful sunny morning, but we will remember only the sheer horror and disbelief we felt as we watched the news media play the shocking scenes over and over again. The memory of it will be passed on to children and grandchildren who weren’t yet born or were too young to remember. Like the memory of Pearl Harbor, it will be passed on and on and on. It shall never be forgotten!









Saturday, September 3, 2016

Big Red and Me

So... I’m driving along on my favorite thoroughfare a little while ago, enjoying a beautiful 68° sunny afternoon – listening to Harold Smith – Uh... Aerosmith on the radio when suddenly, a check in the rear view tells me there’s a big red car on my bumper! The speed limit is 45 on this part of the little country road. I'm  going at least 55, but that's not enough for “Big Red.”

Good Grief! All I wanted to do was drive along listening to music and enjoy a beautiful day. I don’t get out that often. In fact, I get out so seldom that I sometimes forget things that should be second nature to me. When I left the beauty salon, I embarrassed myself by clicking the wrong button to unlock my car door. To my surprise, “Pop” went the trunk!

I felt my face redden as there was a service man getting out of his truck nearby and I knew he’d be thinking – “Ditzy woman!”, but I didn’t give him the chance. I turned on that old, “I meant to do that” attitude as I rummaged around in my trunk for a couple of minutes. The only thing I could find to make the ruse look legimate was a plastic bag so I grabbed it, shook it hard, making sure the man not only saw it, but also heard it, then I closed the trunk, unlocked my car door with the right button, got in and drove off smiling. J

But, I digress.

Big Red follows me all the way home. I slow down and speed up. Doesn’t matter. He stays right with me until we get to the intersection in my hometown. I go straight and he turns right. I think about turning around and doing the same thing to him – following him as closely as possible for as long as possible, but the thought doesn’t last long. I'm almost home and it's still a lovely day.

And like Harold Smith, I don’t want to miss a thing!


Friday, July 29, 2016

Our Home in the Heavens


     We once lived in a two-story house so high on a hill that you could almost reach up and touch the clouds.
To get there, you had to drive around and around a hillside on a narrow road – nearly meeting yourself coming back in one spot – and when you finally reached flat land, you were in front of our house – except you still had to look up to see it! It sat on top of another hill and had 30 or 40 steps leading to it.
Higher and higher you climbed until you were on the front porch, which was the full width of the house and had a porch swing at one end. I enjoyed many summer evenings swinging on that old squeaky swing with my children.
Inside the house, there was a large living room with a fireplace on one side and a flight of stairs on the other. On the second floor, there were three bedrooms and a large bathroom.
In the master bedroom, on the front of the house, there were three windows, side by side. Looking down from the windows almost made you dizzy. You could see the hillside that you drove ‘round and ‘round on to get all the way up there.
This had to be about as close to Heaven as one can get without dying.
We moved there in midsummer – a spectacular time! With copious blooming flowers and trees, cultivated by the previous owners, surrounding the house, it felt surreal – like another world – and yet, in only five minutes, you could be “off the hill” and back into civilization.
Winters were beautiful, but difficult. It was nearly impossible to drive the hill in the snow and walking it was not much easier. However, when snow covered the abundant foliage and long icicles hung off roof edges, it was a lovely sight to behold and felt even more otherworldly than summer.
The children played on the hillside that was our front yard. Although it was practically a prerequisite to have one leg shorter than the other, they adjusted and had a wonderful time. One saving grace was the concrete patio at the back – right outside the kitchen door. It was the width of the house, giving our daughter, the youngest at the time, plenty of room to ride her tricycle. We bought a six-foot long redwood picnic table where they enjoyed sharing their summer lunches with ants and bees. J
Family picnics were great there, too!
Our two sons started school during our time on the hill. Oh, how I worried when they left in the mornings to walk down the many steps that took them off the almost vertical hillside and then, several blocks to the school they attended. Fortunately, our next door neighbors had a daughter, a few years older, who agreed to look after them both going and coming. In those days – people helped each other without expecting anything in return.  J 
That trudge to school – even in wintertime – is still a good memory for both sons.
After four short years, we were forced to move when we learned our family was growing but our house, which had exactly enough room, was not.
Moving day was sad. None of us wanted to leave our home in the heavens. But God always provides a pleasant memory to ease the pain of a bad experience.
Unbeknownst to us, our youngest son sneaked a kitten into the moving van just before its doors were closed. Hours later, when we unloaded and found a hungry black kitty meowing at us – and learned how it got there – we shared a good laugh and Cleo had a good home until she died many years later.
“Beautiful memories are the glue that holds families together.”

www.amazon.com/author/peggytoneyhorton

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Oh, No! Not That!



Twelve-year-old Chase had been a little disrespectful lately and his mom was  losing patience.
“Get some clothes together. I’m taking you to Maw-Maw’s,” she told him. ”Maybe you’ll know how to act after a few days with her.”
A single mom who had to hold down a job, take care of a house and two children, she often felt overwhelmed, especially since the kids were getting older and were sometimes unruly.
When she got overtired and short of patience, she threatened them with me as a way to get them in line. She was certain I’d apply the same strict rules to her children that I had to her growing up, but she didn’t quite understand that it doesn’t work the same with grandchildren.
And we never told her. (Smile)
I always knew when Chase was coming, of course, and was ready for him. His room was clean, special foods bought and meals planned to his liking. His visits were fun for me as I had few responsibilities and sometimes got bored. A few days with him was the shot in the arm I needed to get me on track again.
He was just like me – a night owl! Staying up some nights until two or three a.m., we’d sit at the kitchen bar, he at one end and I at the other, playing on our computers and making conversation. I’d bake cookies to snack on or we’d have vanilla ice cream drizzled with my homemade chocolate sauce.
Sometimes we’d change things a bit by playing a few games of gin rummy – for pennies. Chase’s money-making instincts surfaced early in life. He wouldn’t even consider wasting time on cards if money wasn’t involved.
When we finally went to bed, we slept as late as we wanted since neither of us had a pressing reason to get up. Summer months were no problem and in winter, his homeschool hours were flexible.
After breakfast, we’d sometimes take a walk around the neighborhood or watch a little TV or just get right back to our computers. Nothing was scheduled. It was all fun and games.
He’d usually stay for three or four days before his mother phoned and said, “Are you ready to come home?”
“I guess so, he’d answer.”
“Do you think you can act right now?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
Truth was, he really wasn’t ready to go home. Why should he be?
But he packed his bag and waited for “Mom” to pick him up. Then he’d sheepishly drag along beside her to the car, faking a pout that implied he’d learned his lesson the hard way.
This went on for a few years before his mom realized he didn’t need to go to Maw-Maw’s for a realignment anymore.
Mission accomplished!
Though we never discussed it, Chase and I have an unspoken agreement that what happens at Maw-Maw’s stays at Maw-Maw’s!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Premature


It was a sizzling July morning when my father phoned to tell me the most incredible news. My mother had just delivered a baby girl. I had a sister!
“How can that be?” I said. “If Mother were pregnant, she would have told me.”
“I’m sorry, honey,” said my dad. “Nobody knew. With the oversized clothes she wore, she fooled everyone.”
“But why?”
“She wasn’t supposed to have any more children after you and we knew she most likely wouldn’t carry it to full term. Didn’t want to get everyone excited until it was a sure thing. Sure enough, the baby was more than 10 weeks premature.”
Weighing in at a pound and a half, little Ann Marie lived only nine hours.
When the doctor broke the news to Mother, she cried pitifully for a long while and then clammed up. She turned her face to the wall and wouldn’t talk to anyone.
Any responsibility she might have felt for Ann Marie’s last rites were shifted to Dad as she lay in the hospital trying to appear grief-stricken for two more days. Dad went to a nearby funeral home and made arrangements. The infant’s tiny body was placed in the smallest casket I’d ever seen.
Pink.
For a considerable amount of money, the funeral home provided a car and two men in black suits to accompany Dad and me and Uncle Ed, Dad’s brother, to the family cemetery, about thirty miles south of our home.
When we got there, the small grave had already been dug and the men who had dug it waited in their truck to close it after we left. It was a short, lackluster service, but I suppose there’s not much to say about one whose whole life lasted only nine hours.
The two men from the funeral home carried the small casket from the car to the open grave and placed it over the opening. We gathered ‘round with bowed heads. Suddenly, the sky opened up and unleashed a torrential downpour. The men from the funeral home scrambled to hold big black umbrellas over us in a futile attempt to protect us from the driving rain. Gray clouds hung low overhead and there was no hint that sunrays might find their way around or through them any time soon.
Competing with deafening thunder, Dad raised his voice significantly and said a few words. I’ll never forget them:
“Dear Loving God, giver of all good gifts – thank you for letting us have this little one for a few hours. Though the time was short, our hearts swelled with love as we prayed for her survival. Sometimes we don’t understand why You do things, but we trust You and accept that You know best for all concerned.
So... for as much as it has pleased our Almighty God to take out of this world the soul of our beloved child, Ann Marie Harrison, we therefore commit her body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. May she always feel our love and know that we will one day join her in Heaven.
In Your beloved son’s name...
    Amen.”

(This is an excerpt from my next book, All About Jenny.)

www.amazon.com/author/peggytoneyhorton

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Southern Hospitality


     A good friend, whose job takes him to the far corners of the state, recently got a taste of a well-known West Virginia attribute – southern hospitality – when he went to check on a client. If anyone out there has any doubt about our state possessing that quality, this should dispel it.
Lucas pulled up in front of the modest frame home, put his car in park and got out. “This must be where Jesse lives,” he said aloud, though there was no one around to hear him.
Walking up to the gate, he opened it and strode toward the front porch. He knocked on the door and an older looking woman opened it, smiling.
“Hi,” he said and before he could state his business, the woman flung open the screen door and said, “C’mon in. I’ve got a big batch of fried chicken and a pitcher of sweet tea. Would you like something to eat?”
Lucas couldn’t help but stare at the woman. She was the spittin’ image of his Great-Aunt Martha, a matronly looking woman he remembered from his childhood. Aunt Martha insisted that everyone who entered her house have something to eat and drink. Food was always cooking and there was plenty for whoever showed up at any given time. Her look-alike wore a blue-flowered cotton housedress covered with a full bib-apron; her gray hair was pulled back in a bun, and on her feet were unattractive brown oxfords.
“No thank you,” he said. “I’m not hungry. I just came to see Jesse.”
“Oh, honey,” the woman said, “Jesse doesn’t live here.”
Looking at the small piece of paper in his hand, Lucas said, “This is the address I was given. I was told he lived here.”
“Well, you see,” said the woman, “we’re all related here in the holler and sometimes people get mixed up. Come over here to this window and I’ll show you where Jesse lives.”
Lucas went over to where she stood at the window. She pointed and said, “You see that house way over there to the left with the purple roof?”
“Yeah,” said Lucas.
“That’s Jesse’s house. He’s probably home. He never goes anywhere.”
“Yes, ma’am, I’m sure he’s expecting me. I’d better go on over there then. Thank you for your help.”
“You sure you won’t eat before you go?” the woman said.
“Yes ma’am, I’m sure, but thank you for offering.”
As Lucas turned his car around, waved at the woman standing on the porch and drove toward the house with the purple roof, he thought, Gee, that fried chicken sure smelled good!

When he knocked on the door, Jesse opened it, offered his hand to Lucas and said, “Come on in. We’ve been waiting for you.” An attractive dark-haired woman appeared from another room and Jesse said, “This is my wife, Joann.” Smiling, the woman said, “Nice to meet you. We were just about to eat. Would you like some pinto beans and cornbread?”

Hesitating a moment as his mind flashed a picture of his Great-Aunt Martha, Lucas finally said, “That sounds real good, Ma’am. A small helping would be nice.”
www.amazon.com/author/peggytoneyhorton

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Golden Autumn


Knowing my love for autumn, a very good friend shared this.
The fall pictures and the music are both spectacular! 



Flooding in WV - Nothing New


       When the news of devasting floods hit the airwaves this past Friday, I couldn’t help but think, “Flooding is nothing new for West Virginia.”
More than forty years ago, on February 26, 1972, one of the deadliest floods in U.S. history occurred in southern West Virginia's Buffalo Creek hollow. It was reported that negligent strip mining and heavy rain produced a raging flood. In a matter of minutes, 118 were dead and over 4,000 people were left homeless. Seven were never found.
The flooding that struck Charleston, West Virginia, and the surrounding Kanawha Valley on July 19-20,1961, was one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the area. Five adults and four children died in what was then called Magazine Hollow, and 22 people overall died from the torrents of water.
The flood that came the closest to home for me was the Paint Creek Flood of 1932. Some of my earliest memories are stories my parents and grandparents told me about this one.
Late in the evening, on July10th, after a beautiful sunny day, the heavy rains commenced, accompanied by lightening and thunder and didn’t let up. People began to realize it was showing signs of flooding. They gathered their families and moved as quickly as possible to higher ground. Some to old chicken houses and other out buildings that had been built for their needs. Others relied on the kindness of relatives who lived a few miles away from the creek that was on the verge of overflowing its banks.
The flood caused widespread damage and at least 18 deaths.
Many years later, after my grandmother passed away, I had the opportunity to read the journal she kept as a young wife and mother. She wrote about her family’s experience with that killer flood. Here’s her account:
“One terrible night in July of 1932, disaster struck. With little warning, there came a heavy downpour. It rained and rained and rained. Thunder boomed and great bolts of lightening lit up the sky like daylight. Before long, a huge amount of water was rushing down Paint Creek. Faster and faster it went gaining speed until it was strong enough to destroy everything in its path!
Melvin was good at reading weather signs. We had survived severe storms in Alabama before moving to West Virginia. Early on, he realized we needed to move to higher ground. Gwen, then thirteen, was able to scale the steep mountain behind our house on her own, Melvin carried Ben, six-years-old and I toted four-year-old Jack on my hip.
We stopped behind a huge boulder and watched in amazement as the waters rushed past us down below. It was shocking to see large articles of furniture bobbing up and down in the angry waters as they raced by; animals trying desperately to swim to safety – in vain; whole houses and rooftops and all kinds of debris speeding by as if they had an important destination. We heard screams and people yelling their loved ones’ names. It was chilling!
We hovered there in the safety of the boulder until daylight – the children clinging to us – frozen in terror.
With the rising of the sun, the storm subsided and the waters slowed to a trickle. We made our way back home, wading through deep mud, not knowing what to expect.
Our house was still standing, but filled with sludge – no longer livable.
Standing ankle-deep in thick slimy mud – wet, cold, hungry and homeless – I lost control. With my three children clinging to my legs, I cried out, “Sometimes it seems that God Himself has turned away from us!”
We set out for Kingston, a few miles up the creek, and stayed with my sister, Ann, and her husband until Melvin got a job with the mines there and the company rented us a house of our own.”
I wonder how many victims of this latest West Virginia flood felt the way my grandmother felt as they watched their homes and all of their belongings snatched away in seconds. One man on TV said he had only the clothes on his back and didn’t even know where his house was!
The latest death toll is 26.
I was startled when I saw a comment on social media that read: ”Does anything good ever happen in West Virginia?”
Well, yes, it does. But before I answer, I need some time to reflect.


Monday, June 20, 2016

He Won't Stay Mad


His name was Freddy. He was only two and a half years old.
In the summertime, he was often seen roaming the neighborhood barefoot with his soaking wet training pants hanging down to his knees. In today’s world, someone would have called the authorities, but in the 1950’s, the neighbors looked after him. In Freddy’s case, it really did “take a village.”
Freddy was an adorable child, but he wasn’t cared for the way he deserved. He showed up at our house frequently at mealtime and hung around in the kitchen until my mother had dinner ready. She often fixed an extra plate and lifted him up in a chair so he could eat with us. Nobody ever seemed to be looking for him. When it was almost dark, Mother would say to me, “It’s time to take Freddy home.”
His mother thanked me for bringing him home, closed the door and that was that until the next day when I’d look out the window and see Freddy in our yard again. We had apple trees and, there were always apples on the ground around them. It wasn’t unusual to see the little boy carrying a big apple around munching on it while he played.
Ours was the last house on the street, right beside the river. It was a miracle that the water held no fascination for Freddy except he loved to throw rocks toward it, but try as he may, he didn’t have enough strength in his little arm to hurl a rock far enough to make a big splash in the water.  
Freddy had another problem: at two and a half years old, his speech patterns had not developed completely and it was rather amusing to hear him use “Ls” in place of “Rs.”
One day, another neighborhood boy, about 15, came by to talk to me while Freddy was throwing rocks toward the river. When he became exasperated because he just couldn’t lob one into the water, he picked up a rock, handed it to my friend, Ronnie, and said, “Lonnie, will you please throw this lock in the liver?”
My friend and I doubled over with laughter. Freddy looked from one to the other of us in surprise, then turned and ran out of my yard and down the street toward his house as fast as his little chubby legs would carry him. Ronnie and I stopped laughing and yelled at Freddy to come back, but he didn’t even slow down!
We felt so bad! “He’ll be back,” I said. “After all, he’s just a child. He won’t stay mad at us.”
He did come back, but not as often. It was as if he didn’t trust us after that.
Soon, summer was over and I returned to school. Time passed, I grew up, got married and moved away. After a while, my parents moved away, too, and we lost track of Freddy and his family, but I thought about him sometimes and wished I could apologize for my insensitivity all those summers ago when he was just an innocent toddler whose speech was still a work in progress.
And I wondered what happened to him.
Did he grow up, go to school and become a worthwhile human being? With a family that didn’t seem to care about him, it was hard to imagine that he would have had a normal life. But I hoped it turned out well for him.
Then one day, while shopping, I ran into Freddy’s sister, Angela. She was three years older than her brother. After exchanging pleasantries, I eagerly asked, “How’s Freddy?”
“Oh, he’s fine,” she said. “He’s a veterinarian, married and has two kids, a boy and a girl. Lives in the old neighborhood.”
“That’s great!” I said.
We said our goodbyes then – and promised to stay in touch.
It made my day to see Angela and to know that Freddy was okay. All these years, I’d carried around the guilt of hurting this little boy's feelings.
I should have known that God takes care of little children!

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Picture by www.pottyscotty.com

Friday, June 17, 2016

Dreaming of a Perfect Day!

The long, hot summer drags on. Uneventful it is not!
The 2016 election has been controlling the air waves for at least six months. Brace yourselves! There are approximately five months to go before it’s over. Though I like to keep up, it does get a little annoying sometimes when that’s nearly all you get on the Telly.
However, I’ll take that any day over the events that have been pushing it aside for the past few days.
Dominating the news this week was the dastardly shooting in an Orlando gay bar. At least 49 people were killed and 53 wounded. It’s being called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Not only were 49 lives snuffed out for no reason, but also, the lives of their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and others who loved them were changed drastically because of one madman who had no regard for human life! The only redeeming factor is that his life was taken, too.
Senseless violence.
Equally as spine-chilling was the horrifying news of a two-year-old boy snatched by a menacing alligator as the toddler played near the edge of the water not far from a Walt Disney World hotel.
The boy’s father tried to pry the gator’s mouth open but the reptile wrested the boy from him and plunged into the murky water. Thankfully, the little boy’s body was later found – in tact – and it was concluded that he died of drowning.
What a nightmare!
Sometimes it seems that all the news is bad. Nary a day goes by that we don’t hear something terrible. Has it always been this way or do we just pay more attention to it as we get older?
A friend and I were discussing all of this and we agreed that, just once, we’d like to get out of bed, turn on the TV and be greeted by a smiling announcer who says, “Good Morning! Here’s your weather report.”
“The sun is shining everywhere today. The temperature is perfect! There’s no rain in sight – no clouds in the sky!”
“And now, for the news...
Actually, there is no news to report.
It’s all good!
Enjoy your day!”
~
Dream on...