Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look

Two of my poems have been published in an anthology of stories, poems, and essays by disabled writers produced by our organization of the same name, of which I am President. You can read these poems by clicking here. I’m including below a media release which provides more information about our anthology. I have a limited number of copies I can sell for $17.00 each. Please contact me at the e-mail address below if you’re interested. For more information about Behind Our Eyes, click here.

 

Anthology Includes Local Author

 

The creative works of Sheridan writer Abbie Johnson Taylor are in the newest literary anthology published by Behind Our Eyes, Inc., a 501C-3 nonprofit organization. Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look is the second anthology by a unique collection of sixty-five writers with disabilities. The topics range from humorously absurd to tragically abusive, from cats and rabbits to guide dogs and even a guide horse, from medical fiascos to survival tactics, and through pangs of deprivation to heights of success. The vivid tapestry of life woven through their stories, poems, and essays demonstrates what a captivating and diverse group of writers they are; yet their creative writing collection showcases their similarities to each other and the world at large.

Copies of Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look, edited by Kate Chamberlin, ISBN 978-1490304472, are available through Amazon.com for $16.96 per soft cover book. It is also available in Kindle and Nook formats.

 

Author contact: Abbie Taylor abbie@samobile.net http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

 

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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A Million Kisses

After Bill suffered his strokes, he was given to bouts of depression. For no apparent reason, he would burst into tears, and all I could do was hold him until he settled down. During one such bout, he said, “I owe you a million kisses.”

This inspired the following poem from How to  Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. It’s written from his point of view, describing how he must have felt.

 

STROKE

 

I owe you a million kisses.

I owe you a million hugs.

And now that you are my Mrs.,

I should keep you safe from thugs.

But I have been dealt a hard blow,

which leaves me unable to do

the things I delighted in so,

and that includes loving you.

If I could hold you once more,

I’d cherish the love you provide.

If fate would open the door

and allow me to walk inside,

I’d give you a million kisses

now that you are my Mrs.

 

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

Just My Luck

Yesterday in the mail, I received a copy of the 2013 edition of Emerging Voices, a literary magazine produced by Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff. To my surprise, I discovered that one of my stories was published in this issue. I pasted it below. This was inspired by a news story I heard on NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Enjoy!

 

JUST MY LUCK

 

 

The weekend after I was laid off from my job as a guidance counselor at the local high school, my husband and I went skiing. I took a flying leap off a small hill and landed spread-eagled in the snow, my skis pointing in one direction, my poles in another. My right knee was badly twisted.

On Monday, my birthday, my husband announced that he had out of town business that just couldn’t wait. After promising to return late Friday night and kissing me on the cheek, he was out the door. Here I was with no job, no husband, no one to take care of me. I lay on the couch in the living room and wallowed in self pity, as I watched a mindless game show on television.

The doorbell rang. As I struggled to my feet, picked up my crutches, and hobbled to answer it, I heard a thud followed by a commotion. As I opened the door, I shivered in my bathrobe in the cold winter air and gawked at the sight in front of me. A box of fruit lay torn open on the porch, and pears rolled everywhere, some of them broken. Two guys were punching and yelling obscenities at each other. A UPS truck was parked in my driveway, and a sport utility vehicle stood on the street directly in front of my house. “What’s going on?” I yelled.

The two men stopped and looked at me with sheepish expressions. One of them stuck out his hand. In it was a business card. “Doug Ross, Certified Massage Therapist,” it read.

“Happy birthday,” he said. “Your husband arranged for me to give you a massage today.”

The UPS driver said, “I also have a delivery for you on your birthday. Your husband sent you a subscription to a fruit of the month club.”

“And you guys were fighting over who would make the first delivery?” They looked perplexed and said nothing. “Okay,” I said. “Come in out of the cold, and we’ll talk.”

Still mute, they followed me into the house. I hobbled into the kitchen and started making coffee. The massage therapist put a hand on my shoulder. “Sit down. I’ll do that.”

“I’ll clean up the mess on the porch,” said the UPS driver. “You’ll be reimbursed for what was broken. I’m really sorry.”

A few minutes later, we were drinking coffee and eating pears that weren’t damaged or dirty. “Would one of you guys like to tell me what’s on your mind?” I asked.

The UPS driver shrugged. “Doug and I have been friends for years. A couple of months ago, I met the most incredible woman. I made the mistake of introducing her to Doug. Now, she’s seeing him and wants to break up with me. But you know what, Doug? You can have her.  I found someone better.”

“Me too, Brent,” said Doug. “Can we still be friends?”

“Sure,” said Brent, and they shook hands.

For the price my husband paid for one massage, Doug gave me daily treatments with special attention paid to my injured knee. Brent also came every day and brought fresh fruit he’d salvaged from other customers who weren’t home to receive their deliveries. 

on Monday night, I called my husband’s cell and wasn’t surprised when a woman answered. “Melanie speaking,” she said.

“I’m sorry. I was trying to reach Charles Redford. I must have the wrong number.”

After that, Doug and Brent took turns spending the night. They gave me more than massages and fresh fruit. Charles never called, and I didn’t try to reach him again.

On Friday evening when they both showed up at the same time, ready for another fight, I said, “Both of you can have me tonight. Let’s get a pizza and watch a movie.”

When Charles walked in late that night, he found the three of us snuggled on the couch in the living room watching Casa Blanca. Doug was rubbing my injured knee, and an open box of oranges stood on the coffee table. As Charles gaped at us open-mouthed, I placed an arm around each of them and said, “Hi honey, did you have a nice time with Melanie? Thank you for the lovely birthday presents.”

In divorce court, Charles told the judge, “If only I’d picked either the massage or the fruit.”

 

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

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life

In the summer of 1980 after graduating from high school, I went with my parents and brother to see Coal Miner’s Daughter. I was so taken with Loretta Lynn’s story that I wrote my own song about being the daughter of a man who sold and serviced coin-operated machines. I don’t remember all the words, set to the tune of “Coal Miner’s Daughter, but looking back, that song was one of the silliest things I ever wrote. “I’m proud to be a service man’s daughter. If you should see a broken jukebox, holler.” I was still too young and privileged to understand Loretta Lynn’s life growing up in Butcher Hollow.

Sissy Spacek, who portrayed Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter, decided after graduating from high school that instead of going to college, she would go to New York and try to make it as a singer. She eventually did, and I just finished reading her memoir, My Extraordinary Ordinary Life. Sissy was born on December 25th, 1949. She grew up in Quitman, Texas, and first became famous for her roles in Badlands and Carrie. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Coal Miner’s Daughter. She received Oscar nominations for her roles in Carrie, Missing, The River, Crimes of the Heart, and In the Bedroom. Click here to learn more about her.

In My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, Sissy starts by describing how when she was born, her mother went into labor on Christmas Eve in 1949 but wouldn’t let her father take her to the hospital until she had finished decorating the tree. She discusses her idyllic childhood when she was a tomboy who climbed trees, hated wearing dresses, and participated in numerous adventures with her older brothers. She explains how she became involved in music and acting as a teen-ager and how the drama teacher told her she wouldn’t succeed as an actress. Years later, when she won the Oscar for Coal Miner’s Daughter, the drama teacher approached her mother in the grocery store and told her Sissy wasn’t cast in any of the school’s productions because she didn’t learn her lines.

Sissy also explains how she was affected by the death of one of her brothers from leukemia and how she fell in love with the idea of being a singer when she spent a summer in New York  before he died. She describes how after her high school graduation, she sang in various establishments and worked several jobs in New York before landing her first movie deal and moving to L.A. At one point in New York when a record producer told her they already had another singer who sounded just like her by the name of Loretta Lynn, she said, “Loretta who?”

She describes in detail the process of making most of her movies including Badlands, Carrie, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and Streets of Laredo to name a few. She talks about her marriage to Jack Fisk, a set designer who worked with her on most of her films, and how they settled on a farm in Virginia, raised two daughters, and eventually bought a home near the ocean in Los Angeles. She briefly touches on her older daughter’s career as an actress and musician. At the end of the book, she describes encountering a teen-aged fan with a tattoo of Carrie in the movie on her arm and her induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.

I downloaded a recording of this book from Audible, and Sissy does an excellent job  narrating it. She even sings one of her songs a capella. I got the feeling she was telling me her story, not just reading it. I’m sure this book is available from bookstores and online retailers. I recommend it if you’re saying, “Sissy who?”

 

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

Video Book Trailer

This month, my publisher is launching a video marketing campaign for How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver that includes a 60-second video. This has no voiceover, just music, text, and images. If you use a screen reader, you probably won’t be able to read the text so I’ve pasted it below along with a description of the images and a link to the video. If you like it, please feel free to share on  Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media.

 

One night will change two people’s lives forever.

(Visuals of an animated statue’s head crumbling to the left – this symbolizes the stroke and it’s damaging effect)

A happy couple will be transformed.

(Elderly couple sitting on the bench, we see their backs, the old man kisses the lady on the cheek)

In January of 2006, tragedy strikes

(Old man in pain, head down, about to have a stroke)

 when Abbie Johnson Taylor’s husband suffers a debilitating stroke.

(MRI computer scans of the brain and skull as would be done post stroke)

Through pain and perseverance,

(Close up of hospital patient’s hand being held)

 Abbie cares for her beloved,

 nurturing and supporting him

(Picture of Abbie and her beloved husband)

during the ups and downs of recovery

(Elderly man being pushed in wheelchair)

and the aftermath of a crippling condition.

(Close up of elderly man being hugged and kissed on the cheek – we only see his nose and mouth so it doesn’t look like a different man)

Discover the heartbreak and the triumph in this very human story

(Close up of the couple holding hands – hands only)

 available online at: www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com  

 

http://youtu.be/j9hgGhwL7pA

 

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