Recently our LIVE OUT LOUD Peggy Benson exited her earthly life and entered into her heavenly LIVE OUT LOUD-ER life.

Only a few days before, Gloria and I visited her and had that knowing in our spirits that she was more there than here. The attendant told us she hadn’t spoken for a while, but her eyes brightened as she looked at one and then the other of us, back and forth.

Gloria bent low and began to sing … the chorus to “Something Beautiful,” then a few phrases from “There’s Something About That Name.” When she began to sing “He Touched Me,” Peg’s lips moved ever so slightly, and as best she could, and as faintly as her shallow breath would allow, she joined us to finish the song.

I am sad; one of us is missing! But I’m also a humorist. I’m here to make you chuckle … laugh even! And with that in mind, let’s do it … let’s laugh together at some of Peggy’s famous one-liners:

“There is nothing duller than a story with just the facts. I say, if you can’t embroider it a little bit, it’s hardly worth telling.”

“A secret is something you tell one person at a time.”

“Small talk?” Peg would say. “No talk is too small for me!”

We had our little routines, did them ad nauseum at times, finishing each other’s sentences.

Peggy was the quintessential gardener, and often bragged that her Johnny Jumpups grinned at her, to which I would reply, “Mine ducked!”

“Bob said I took up knitting …” (One of us would inevitably jump in and finish the sentence!) … “SO YOU WOULD HAVE SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT WHILE YOU TALKED! Yeah, yeah, yeah! We know!

Peg was known to walk up to one of our husbands and, in her most flirty voice, announce for all to hear: “You look just like my SECOND husband.”

Timing is everything, and the girl knew it! She would pause … look around expectantly, and wait until one of us took the bait.

“Exactly how many husbands have you had?”

“ONE!” she would say in that coquettish little way of hers, and no matter how many times we had played the scene before, we would all fall down laughing!

Her most famous “act,” and she had a few, was her performance of show tunes. Give her a teeny, tiny little bit of encouragement and she would light up like a neon sign at the corner of Broadway and 42nd.

“I’m jes’ a girl who cain’t say no,” she’d sing in her nasally Ado Annie Carnes voice from the musical Oklahoma! “I’m in a terrible fix. I always say ‘come on, le’s go.’ Jist when I orta say nix!”

After having danced her way around the room a time or two, not missing a word, she would end up in one of our husbands’ laps, with the grandest of finales … “I CAIN’T SAY NO!”

The last time she performed this, her signature number, was for Bill Gaither ( feebly but nonetheless), with Gloria, me and the nurses at St. Mary’s cheering her on.

One of our children once whined, when confronted with a task left undone: “There is something wrong with my rememberer.” We repeated it often through the years when one of us forgot something.

We watched helplessly as Peggy’s rememberer slipped away. We visited her and sang to her. We grieved at her graveside. And then — and it seemed to come naturally — we began to picture her in her new heavenly surroundings. Planting gardens, potting and repotting, planting and replanting … and arranging those tiny bouquets in vinegar cruets that she was known for. And, yes, even potpourri-ing the bathrooms of Glory with the dried flowers she’d gathered.

Gloria sent me card a while back — and it applies to the “through-thick-and-thin friendship” enjoyed by Peggy, Joy, Gloria and me. It said: “We’re so much a part of each other that I can hardly remember yesterday without thinking of you … and I can hardly imagine tomorrow without feeling that you’ll be the best part of it.”

Our two books … you’ll love them … Friends Through Thick and Thin and Confessions of Friends Through Thick and Thin, are available at

Here are a couple of pictures from David Phelps’ Barn Bash. What a night! What a concert! What a storm that almost drowned us. Get-rightwith- God lightning and thunder! And 500 people who didn’t seem to mind a bit.

David and Lori, as well as the big extended family — children, parents, aunts and uncles — live full-volume in their local community. I’m sure there were 40 or 50 volunteers who gave three days of their time to make Barn Bash successful.

I’m out of room again, but be sure to read in this issue about Kevin Williams’ commitment to his Kentucky hometown and the give-back event he holds there yearly.  (It's in the article where Homecoming Friends share their passions for causes that inspire us to live out the commandment to "love our neighbor", Live Out Loud. Click here to read the article.)