The Flip Side of the Past

July 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

Back in March, I posted some lyrics inspired by half of the older couple my sister and I lived with while our mother worked nights as a cocktail waitress. That song, about the husband, was inspired by the memories I have of him working away in his small shop. (He once made me a wooden box with a locking hasp in which to store all of my treasures. I kept that box for years.)

The wife was someone I did not remember as fondly. She was the disciplinarian, the one who made us go to church and Sunday School every week, and the one who made sure for the most part that we stayed out of trouble.

She was tough. Looking back across the years, I imagine she had to be. Her husband was a happy-go-lucky guy who had little use for discipline. She was the adult in the marriage and, in large part, in the lives of me and my sister. (Because our mother often worked six nights a week, we usually only saw her on weekends.)

Having already written about her husband, I figured it was time I wrote about her. I’m not sure I did her justice, but hopefully I came close. Some of what follows is based on my memories. The rest is imagination and conjecture.


Nora Penguilley was harder than steel
If she had a softer side, she never revealed it
To anyone, not even her husband and son

Her childhood was hard and life only got worse
Felt like she had to be under a curse
For something she’d said or something she’d done

When she was younger, she looked for a love
To last her the rest of her life
Common sense won out over fairy tales
When at last she was a wife

Nora Penguilley had nothing to lose
Though there were times when she wished she could choose
To turn her back on it all and just walk away

Not easy to love or easy to know
Her feelings stayed hidden, buried below
What she showed to the world every day

As she got older, she gave up on love
Exchanged for a warm bed at night
Locked away dreams she’d had as a girl
Forever banned from the light

Nora Penguilley was harder than steel
But even metal will finally feel
The onset of age, the passage of time

She died alone as she knew that she would
Her final wish was a hope that she could
Find something more than that left behind

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust
So says the book that she read
Here on this earth never quite felt alive
Hoped for life when she was dead

Nora Penguilley was laid in the ground
No one to say a prayer or make a sound
Over her soul left to drift away
Into the heavens, her demons at bay

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.


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