Magnets and Ladders Fall/Winter Issue Now Available Online

The fall/winter issue of Magnets and Ladders is now online. This publication features stories, poems, essays, and other articles by yours truly and other disabled authors such as Bruce Atchison, whom I’ve mentioned on this blog before. You’ll recognize my article about how to write an abecedarian poem from an earlier post. A short story of mine, “Cab Driver,” also appears in this issue. Bruce provides a sneak preview of his memoir, When a Man Loves a Rabbit. You can read these and more here. Enjoy!

 

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

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Making the Big Move

I started thinking about placing Bill in a nursing home last January when a new facility opened, but Bill wasn’t too keen on the idea until now. Greenhouse Living is a new concept in long-term care. Residents are housed in cottages with a capacity of twelve people. They have their own rooms and baths and can receive more individual attention from staff. The cottages have large living dining areas with fireplaces and patios. It’s a more home-like environment.

Lately, Bill has become almost too heavy for me to lift. I called in two therapists to see if there was any way to make transferring him easier. Both determined that it’s no longer safe for me to care for him at home. A couple of days ago, we went to look at Greenhouse and discovered that since Bill will be a Medicaid patient, there’s a waiting list, and it will be at least six months to a year before he’ll be able to move there. I can’t wait that long. He’s on the list, but in the meantime, I’ve moved him to Sheridan Manor where he normally goes for respite care when I go out of town for writers’ conferences and other events. He’ll stay there until he can be moved to Greenhouse.

Although he would rather be at home, Bill seems to have accepted the idea of nursing home placement. To tell the truth, I’m relieved. I’ve been caring for him for six years. When he came home after his first stroke, we thought he would eventually walk and regain some use of his left arm, but after he suffered his second stroke, and his therapy was discontinued six months later, it became apparent that I would be doing this for the rest of his life. I didn’t think I could do it forever, but I vowed to do it for as long as I could. Now, the time has come.

Yesterday, someone told me I would be lonely. I don’t think so. I was single for many years before I married Bill, and I hate to admit it, but I’m more used to being alone than living with someone. I’ll miss having him around the  house, but it’ll be nice not to have to plan my life around someone else. I can go out and not worry about leaving him alone. Of course I’ll visit him as often as I can, and we’ll keep in touch by phone. I’ll always love him, and he’ll always love me, and life will go on.

 

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

Anniversary, Anthology, and Publication

I can’t believe that Bill and I have been married for seven years. This may not seem like much, but given our circumstances, it’s quite a milestone. As some of you know, three months after we were married, Bill suffered the first of two strokes, and since then, he has not been able to walk or use his left arm. I’ve been caring for him at home. It hasn’t been easy at times, but we hope to have many more happy years together.

I plan to submit work for possible publication in Unteachable: An Anthology of Poets Outside the Academy. Some poets teach creative writing and other subjects. My brother’s a poet who teaches physics. This collection will be by poets like me who have other occupations besides teaching. If you’re a poet who doesn’t teach and would like to submit work, click here for guidelines.

I just received word that my poem, “Cancer,” will be published next month on Voxpoetica, a blog dedicated to promoting poetry. This poem, not in my collection, is about how my mother fought this disease, and the disease won. I’ll let you know as soon as it appears and post a link here so please stay tuned.

 

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

Poets Laureate

Today is Labor Day. I should be sitting in my back yard, reading a good book and enjoying a sunny day, but instead, I’m working. This is a day to commemorate factory workers, carpenters, firemen, policemen, miners, and others who work hard for their money and to serve us. I would like to talk about two people who are, you might say, self-employed.

Our state has two poets laureate, as do many others. Our governor appoints one of them, and this year’s candidate is Patricia Frolander. Pat and her husband Robert operate a ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming near Sundance. She has published two collections of poems: Grasslands Genealogy and Married into It. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. The poems in her second book were inspired by her forty-six years of experience working on a ranch. I met her years ago when I joined Wyoming Writers and WyoPoets and have always been impressed by her spunk and stamina.

The other poet laureate is selected by Amy Kitchener’s Angels without Wings Foundation, which holds a contest every year to choose a senior poet laureate for every state. Wyoming’s candidate for this year is Rose Hill of Sheridan. She’s in the running to become the national senior poet laureate, and the winner of this contest will be announced sometime this month.

I got to know Rose several years ago when I joined Range Writers, our local writing group, and she and I have traveled to many conferences and workshops together. She’s a remarkable lady, a grandmother in her eighties who does a multitude of tasks including caring for a grandchild not quite a year old, managing her son’s car radiator business, serving as her church’s historian, and singing in the choir. Besides Range Writers, she’s active in Wyoming Writers, WyoPoets, and a group of poets that meets once a month to write, share, and critique.

Rose hasn’t published a book of poems, but her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. Her poems center on family, nature, and interesting tidbits she reads in National Geographic and other magazines. She has also written a poem or two that have been set to music and sung by her church choir. She’s a go getter who doesn’t let age, height, or anything else stop her, and I applaud her for this.

I’m commemorating these women today because writing, unlike factory or construction work, doesn’t guarantee income, and it can be a challenge to balance a paying job or business, family, and other obligations with writing. Pat and Rose have managed to do this, and they write great poems. I can think of no better candidates for Wyoming’s poet laureate positions.

 

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