Published on May 11, 2021
Chasing the Creator
You can go home when the road leads to Miss Peggy
By Shirley Prihoda
Eventually, we all go home - in our own way.
For some, going home conjures images of the radiant warmth of a tangerine haze on the horizon as you nimbly balance your plate of macaroni and cheese in one hand and a healthy slice of apple pie in the other.
For others, the view is somewhat different. Theirs is more along the lines of the obstacle course on the TV show, “Ninja Warriors.”
How did going home get such negative press? The Prodigal son went home, and Dorothy and Toto went home.
The outcome was positive for Dorothy, and we still smile at the clicking of red shoes. For the Prodigal, it seems the only person glad to have the little brother back was the broken-hearted father.
Life is like that, the joy in a situation largely depends upon one’s perspective. To go home or not to go home actually came into main-stream America in the late 1940s. The quote “you can’t go home again” was from a novel by Thomas Wolfe.
In the book, Wolfe tells the story of George Webber, a fledgling author from Asheville, North Carolina. However, when the book hit the shelves, the actual residents of Asheville were quite unhappy with his depiction of them. Evidently, in North Carolina any press is not good press.
Wolfe’s limited view apparently clouded his perception that bigger and better things were coming out of them thar hills. Coming down the pike was Goody’s Headache Powder, which would come in handy for the headaches for his unappreciated literary work.
Also, had he stayed around long enough, he could have retired his trusty pen and paper for the Lenovo PC, which this writer often stares into blankly, waiting for the right words to come. It’s at those frustrating moments one goes looking for a hearty dose of Goody’s headache powder!
Not to be outdone by the quest to find the right word, is yet another sought-after item on my grocery list, Mt. Olive Pickles! The worth of these North Carolina inventions certainly goes without saying.
But there was yet something else coming out of those hills in North Carolina that yet has gone unheralded: A silver-haired 84-year-old everyone affectionally calls Miss Peggy.
Miss Peggy grew up behind a mule in the fields until she came out of the North Carolina hills singing southern gospel like Loretta Lynn and carrying herself with the grace of a First Lady. Her face is so radiant, she seems like captured lightening in a bottle. When you’re in her presence it’s as comforting as the beacon on a North Carolina lighthouse that’s known to all as a safe harbor. Both remain unchanging and ever inviting.
She wasn’t dealt a life of privilege, and the road was washed out more times than she likes to remember. For the person who values people merely on the external, she may appear as one who has little to offer. This would be a great disservice to the critic because she is a woman who has strove, erred, and spent herself in the worthy cause of loving the broken into wholeness.
We first met Miss Peggy and her husband, Ron, so long ago we all were several inches taller and had enough hair to style. We wandered across the states while they stayed put, like the never changing lighthouse, pointing the way out of darkness.
In all our wandering, we never planned to return to Brazoria County and doing so was not our attempt to prove or disprove Thomas Wolfe’s hypothesis. The evidence of long claw marks in the dirt speaks that clearly for themselves.
While this was not the path we would have chosen, coming home has proven to be heel-clicking good because we are building a house in Columbia Lakes right next door to Miss Peggy!
Ron says he’s going to build a 38-foot-high fence between our houses. Perhaps in the years we have been gone he has forgotten my go under, go over, or go around personality! Suffice it to say, he probably thought his years of service in the ministry would have granted him some peace in his later years. Alas, it was not to be. He may not be granted that kind of peace, but he was granted the greatest gift next to Jesus - Miss Peggy.
For those who may think a simple woman from the hills of North Carolina has little value in today’s world, they would be missing the forest for the trees.
Theodore Roosevelt captured her perfectly in his famous quote:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
So, here we are home again and anxiously waiting to move next door to Miss Peggy who makes me feel so loved that I stand a little taller, fluff my hair and put on lipstick.
UPDATE: It was not meant to be. This article was originally written on April 2. On May 2, Miss Peggy got to leave this world and go home. Godspeed, Miss Peggy, until we meet again.
(To contact Shirley, please send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)