Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Down the road , around the bend
Lived a man who was my friend...
He had no wife or other kin,
how lonely this man must have been!

A squeaky porch swing where he sat
swayed back and forth as he stroked
his cat.

Each day I’d pass and wave and
smile, but had no time to stay a while.
Important duties beckoned me,
I had things to do and people to see. 

“I’ll visit soon,” I called to my friend
 As on I hurried ‘round the bend.

"I’ll surely do it,”  I averred,
I’ll stop and visit – keep my word!
We’ll  talk and laugh and have a drink
It’s nice to have a friend, I think.

But Time waits for no one – it hurries past
and promises made seldom last.

The news came early via phone
My friend had died – all alone.
my heart beat faster when I heard
“If only I had kept my word.”

And now, I visit where he sat, swing
back and forth and stroke his cat.

   ©2016 Peggy Toney Horton~

Walking Away

I watch him walk away, my
heart breaking at the thought of
losing him. Setting pride aside, I
beg him to stay, thrusting my arms
around him - feeling unbearable
pain when he coldly removes them.
“It’s better this way,” he says..
“Please! You’re tearing my heart out,”
I plead tearfully – as the door closes
behind him.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Will it Always Be This Way?

       Of these cold and rainy May days, I’ve grown weary; though
      I shout the words out loud, seems no one hears me?
I’m sure God made the sun – to make our days a lot more fun,
yet they're so dreary!
Expecting sunshine, I arise – none finds its way into my eyes,
I’m disappointed.
To entertain myself, I try - tiresome season, go on by,
I shall ignore you.
I scale a mountain high and wide and look upon the other side –
it is no greener.
Am l to always feel this bad - or will a new day make me glad;
will there be sunbeams?
Will it always be this dour? Or can it change within the hour –
from sad to joyful?
And then, upon a gentle wind the answers come ‘a floating in
ah, sweet surprises!
A sudden floral smell delights, and things begin to feel alright
the birds are singing..
Their days are short and mine are long - how lovely they fill theirs with song while I’m complaining.
©2016 Peggy Toney Horton~

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rainy Days and Memories

Another rainy afternoon. Seems to rain every day. Although some say they’re tired of it, I find it relaxing and enjoy the wonderful memories it elicits.
I’m remembering one now that is especially precious to me. As life has changed drastically these past few years, memories of childhood days at my grandparent’s house, spent with my Aunt Betty, are more valued than ever. Betty is my mother’s younger sister, making her my aunt, though only three months separate us in age.
In a two-story house that belonged to the coal company my grandfather worked for, my grandmother and grandfather, great-grandma, Betty, her three older brothers and a large black dog named Shane made their home. 
Quite a houseful!
As an only child, spending time with that large family was exciting, but, in all my best dreams and memories, the main players are always Betty and me. Odd, how the mind holds onto the most gratifying images while discarding those that aren’t as important.
A loud crash of thunder awakened Betty and me and sent us dashing into a large closet where we huddled for a while, hoping the rain would go away and the sun would appear once again so we could go outside. But before it stopped, we got bored and tired of doing nothing so we started nit-picking at each other. Yelling led to hitting and kicking and hair pulling and an all-out fight developed before my grandmother – “Mom” to both of us – stepped in, separating us and sending us to separate rooms.
“Betty, you go to Grandma’s sewing room,” she said, “and Peggy, you go in my bedroom. Neither of you are to come out until I tell you. Maybe some time alone will help you both and, with any luck, it’ll stop raining and you can go outside.”
It was the late 1940’s. There was no TV in either of these rooms – and we’d never even heard of a computer or iPhone so it didn’t take long until we were bored to tears and were begging Mom to let us come out. “We’ll be good,” Betty said through the closed door. “Won’t we, Peggy?”
“Yes,” we promise not to fight anymore,” I whined.
She didn’t give in right away. In fact, she didn’t even answer our pleas. But, in a little while, she opened both doors and told us to come on out, but said, “If I have to separate you again, it’ll be for the rest of the day.”
Lucky for us, the rain had stopped and she thought it would be okay if we went outside as long as we didn’t get all muddy. “Just stay in the grass until the sun dries things up a bit,” she said.
“We will, Mom,” we said in unison, as angelically as possible.
Everything was fine for a while. We walked around in the wet grass, looking for anything the rain might have unearthed. Picking up a couple of earthworms, we watched them inch their way up our arms. This was great fun – for a couple of minutes.
Suddenly, Betty darted several feet away and said, “Oh, look, Peggy! It’s a terrapin!”
Running over to check it out, I said, “it's a tortoise, Betty.”
“No it’s not,” she said. “It’s a terrapin! See, its head is back in its shell.”
“I know,” I said, “but terrapins are usually smaller and they live in water; tortoises live on land.”
“Well,” Betty said, hands on her hips, “my brother, Jack, knows all about turtles and he told me the ones that look like this one are terrapins.”
“Okay, Betty, but I learned about them in school and it looks like a tortoise to me.”
“Well, you live in the city. You don’t have turtles in the city – like we do - so you don't know what you’re talking about.”
That did it!
Betty had a way of goading me until I could no longer control my temper. I ran toward her like a wounded bull and, before she knew what was happening, I’d pushed her hard and down she went, sliding across the yard on the wet grass all the way to the muddy path that led around the house. There she sat, in the squishy mud, looking surprised.
I giggled. That infuriated her and when she got up, both hands filled with mud, she quickly took aim and slammed both handfuls in my direction.
One hit me smack on the side of the head and the other, right in the center of my chest. Teeth clenched, I started toward her, but was stopped by a strong hand grabbing me by the arm. Looking upward, I saw Mom – the look on her face frightening.
“Uh-Oh!” I said.
She grabbed Betty’s arm with her other hand and literally dragged us up the muddy path to the back door. There she stopped, let us go and said, “Take your clothes off and leave them here on the porch and get inside! Grandma is filling a tub for both of you.”
We did as she said without uttering a word and went inside to find Grandma pouring buckets of hot water into a large galvanized tub. When she was finished, Mom said, “Get in and I’ll scrub your heads first, then you can wash yourselves.”
Shivering, we stepped out on clean towels. Mom dried me and Grandma helped Betty. After we were dressed, Mom told us to go to the same rooms she’d sent us to this morning when she separated us. “I’ll call you when supper’s ready,” she said.
Sitting all alone, I suddenly felt awfully homesick! I wasn’t used to Mom punishing me. My feelings were crushed and I struggled to hold back tears.
After supper, Mom allowed us to sit on the porch for a while, but before it was fully dark, she told us to put on our pajamas and go to bed. “You’ve had a busy day,” she said. “You need to rest up for tomorrow.”
Lying side by side, our small bodies almost swallowed up by the plush feather mattress Grandma had made years ago, we fell asleep quickly. My last thoughts were of my home beside the Kanawha River.
“Wake up, Peggy! The sun’s shining. C’mon, let’s grab a couple of hot biscuits and go outside!”
Turning over and rubbing my eyes, I said, “Okay, I’m comin’.”
That’s the way it was. We’d fight until it seemed that things would never be the same between us again, but after a good night’s sleep, all was forgotten. All that remained were two young girls who really loved each other.
And it lasted a lifetime.
This afternoon, as I watched raindrops pelt the birdbath in my yard, those never to be forgotten memories were vivid. But one thing mars the past that Betty and I share. She has been stricken with dementia of the worst kind and remembers very little—or so it seems. Yet, when we have an occasional phone conversation, she always wants to sing to me.
The song: John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
Oh, how I wish I knew if those precious days we shared are still living inside her head like they are in mine!


Thursday, May 12, 2016

You Thought Wrong

It was always a love-hate relationship. Burning hot or icy cold. Nothing in between. You came. You saw. You conquered. (You thought!). But she was always wise to your shenanigans; you didn’t fool her.

Oh, she loved you all right. From the moment she first saw you. When you smiled that movie star smile and winked at her – she was yours. But when she discovered how you played the game, she changed her game-plan, too.

There was no honesty in the relationship. You were too afraid of being hurt.

Hold back, you told yourself. Don’t give everything you have. Let her act first. If anyone is hurt, it should be her – not you! After all, with your charm and good looks, you won’t have any trouble getting another girl to fall for you just the way she did. It’ll be easy.

But what you didn’t count on was her heart hardening toward you and yours softening toward her. You didn’t expect the tables to turn. It seems the longer you withheld your true feelings, the less she needed them--and finally, she didn’t even want them! Or you.

You always thought you were the heartbreaker. How shocking it was to find that your heart is breakable, too.

Hurts, doesn’t it?