After Bill suffered his first stroke, I felt helpless, as I watched him struggle to regain his strength. He was a changed man, and the change that shocked me the most was in his voice. Before the stroke, I often sat on his lap while he sang to me. He didn’t have perfect pitch, but he could carry a tune pretty well. After the stroke, when Bill told his speech therapist I was a singer, she encouraged me to sing with him to improve his speech. He could no longer carry a tune, and it was hard listening to him intone the words to his favorite songs in rhythm with no tune.

The following poem from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver describes my feelings of helplessness after Bill came home and I started taking care of him. It also emphasizes the fact that although he’s a changed man, he’s still the one I love.


I know what to do—
I don’t know what to do.
The wheelchair, vertical bars, gait belt
offer assistance but can’t bring him back.
He’s not the man I married—
he’s still the man I love.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of two novels,, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at

2 thoughts on “Dependent”

  1. Sudden illnesses of the brain are the most frightening. All of what we are is contained there. When things don't work right, we suddenly lose abilities we once took for granted. Fortunately, we know who we can place our trust in. Thanks for posting that poem.


  2. Hi Bruce, in the fifteen years I worked at the nursing home, I met many people who lost abilities you and I take for granted. It's a difficult adjustment to make, but it was especially hard when it happened to someone I love.


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