Leaf Disposal

We usually get rid of leaves in the fall, but with Mother’s Day around the corner, I would like to share a poem about something my mother and I did together. In the fall of 1988, I was living with my mother in Sheridan, Wyoming, while looking for work after completing a six-month internship at a nursing home in Fargo,North Dakota, and becoming a registered music therapist. One day, Mother and I were in the front yard raking leaves when she got a sudden urge to relive her childhood memory of burning them. According to the poem from How toBuild a BetterMousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, this could have been a disaster but wasn’t.

Leaf Disposal

We gathered them into bags, placed them curbside. Mother said, “We used to burn the leaves. It was the smell of fall. Let’s burn a few now.”

It had been a dry year. Forest fires raged around us. I couldn’t remember the last time it rained. “I don’t think this is a good idea,” I said.

“Stop being such a chicken. Help me gather leaves into a pile.” With a sick feeling in my stomach, I did as I was told.

She struck a match–nothing happened. The wind came up. Leaves drifted away, as if they knew of their fate. She tried again with no results. After several more tries, she gave up, to my relief. We got rid of the leaves in the usual way.

The End

My mother passed away from cancer on December 15th, 1999, but the memories still remain. What about you? Please feel free to tell me about something you did with your mother by leaving a comment below.

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

Coming Home

During the last few years of my mother’s life, she lived in Story, a small town about twenty miles south of Sheridan, Wyoming, nestled at the foot of the Big Horn mountains. She and my father were divorced but still good friends. At the time, I was single, living in an apartment in Sheridan, working as an activities assistant at a nursing home, and volunteering at other facilities in the community that served senior citizens. Dad, Grandma, and I often drove to Story with Maud, Dad’s Irish setter, to visit Mother. Sometimes, she fixed us a meal, and at other times, we ate at a nearby restaurant. At Christmas after my brother’s first child was born, he and his family came from their home in Los Alamos, New Mexico. We spent the night in Story and had a traditional family Christmas complete with Santa’s usual nocturnal visit.

To get to Mother’s house, we drove to Story on a main highway. We then turned onto a dirt road that wound through the woods for about a mile. At the dirt road, Dad stopped and let Maud out so she could run alongside the car for the rest of the trip. This is described in more detail in the following poem from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver.

Coming Home

The car turns onto the dirt road and stops.

The rear left passenger door opens.

Out jumps an Irish setter.

The door slams shut.

The car moves down the road at a moderate pace.

The dog runs alongside the car,

her red, floppy ears and mane blowing in the breeze,

the multi-colored kerchief around her neck visible in the sunlight.

She hesitates, sniffs something along the side of the road.

The car stops–Dad calls, “Come on, Maud.”

Maud turns toward the car–we’re off.

About a mile down the road,

the car turns into the driveway of a log cabin–

Mother hurries out to meet us.

Maud rushes up to her, tail wagging in frantic anticipation.

She strokes the dog’s shaggy neck–

Maud gives her a sloppy kiss.

She runs in joyous circles around the car,

as we alight and items are removed from the trunk.

It’s so good to be home!

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