Breath of Heaven #Monday Musical Memories

I first heard this song in December of 2005, two months after my late husband Bill and I were married. It captivated me, and for some reason, I couldn’t get it out of my head, even after Christmas.

Then in January of 2006, Bill suffered the first of two strokes. I could now identify with the feelings the Virgin Mary expresses in this song. Why me? Did I have to bear this burden alone? Our future was uncertain.

I have since realized that like the Virgin Mary, I was chosen. Unlike the Virgin Mary, I had a choice. I could have said no to Bill’s marriage proposal, but I didn’t. I could have walked away after he suffered his first stroke, but I never considered that as an option.

If Bill and I hadn’t been married, no doubt he would have been alone in January of 2006 in Fowler, Colorado, when he had that stroke. He would have spent the rest of his life in a nursing home because his family would have been unable to care for him. His quality and quantity of life would have been affected. You can read our full story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

The song I’m singing today, “Breath of Heaven,” inspired me to write the following poem, which was published in the fall/winter 2018-2019 issue of Magnets and Ladders. If you click on the title, you’ll hear me recite the poem and sing the song.

 

THE POOR BLESSED VIRGIN

 

She stands, alone, cold, weary

after traveling many days and nights.

Why was she chosen to bear this Holy Child?

Must she do it alone?

Will Heaven help her?

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Announcing BOE Fair #Thursday Book Feature

Today, instead of reviewing one book, I’m going to share an event where you can learn about fifteen books from nine different authors. I’m president of Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers scattered across the country. We meet at least twice a month for critique sessions, guest presentations, and other activities and publish an online magazine called Magnets and Ladders. We’ve published two anthologies of our work, and we’re working on a third.

We recently held a book fair, showcasing work by nine authors, myself included. This was recorded and is available to the public. Below, you’ll find information about the event plus links to the recording and to more information about Behind Our Eyes. Happy reading!

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Good Books, Unique Gifts, and New Opportunities at your Fingertips
First Book Fair

Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities, held its first book fair and two-hundred-seventy-third call attended by nine presenters and many Behind Our Eyes member listeners. Bonnie Blose and Marilyn Brandt Smith hosted this two-hour event. A brief introduction to the focus and activities of the organization was followed by a parade of books: novels, memoirs of personal challenge, writings of the holiday season, adventures and essays with agendas, and a sure-to-be-classic disability awareness book written to assist blind and visually impaired consumers in navigating the healthcare system. Fifteen books were presented by their nine authors. Visit http://www.behindoureyes.org/wp/bookfair/ to read more and download this conference recording. Share it with your friends and newsletters, magazines, etc. Visit http://www.behindoureyes.org for a contact or membership form to offer feedback, ask questions, or join this amazing organization.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Working in Public #Fiction

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The thin man with graying hair and huge glasses in the seat next to me on the airplane was squinting over his laptop. The screen was bright and had large text. He didn’t seem to be aware that I could see what was on the screen. For half an hour, I watched, fascinated, as he read his email and worked on documents.

I learned his name was Roger Newton, that he was the President of the Chase Bank branch in Casper, Wyoming, where I lived, that his wife, confined to a wheelchair, worked at a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities. The couple had no children or pets and were trying to sell their house so they could move to a condo. Then, I saw something that made my blood run cold.

An instant message appeared from someone named Dirk G. “Hey, Roger, I’m all set for tonight around eleven o’clock. You sure your wife will be in bed by then?”

“Oh, yeah,” Roger answered. “She’ll be in bed by ten. The key is underneath the mat outside the kitchen door. I disabled the alarm this morning before I left. She doesn’t know this. Try not to make too much noise. I don’t want the neighbors to hear anything, okay?”

“No problem. My pistol has a silencer. You sure your wife won’t hear me coming in the kitchen door?”

“Naw, once Carla’s out, she’s out. A train could come through the house, and she wouldn’t know it.”

“Okay, I’ll sneak in the back door, through the kitchen and living room, and right into the bedroom. I’ll have to use a flashlight so I can see what I’m doing, but if I can aim for her head, she won’t know what hit her, and she won’t feel any pain.”

“Good deal.”

“Okay, so, what about the money?”

“Carla’s jewelry case is on the bureau in front of the bed. She doesn’t keep it locked. Inside are some really expensive necklaces and bracelets I bought her over the years. You can take and sell those, and that’ll be your deposit. Once the life insurance claim settles, I should be able to write you a check for the rest.”

“Sounds great! Let me be sure I have the right address. That’s 1531 Apple Tree Lane, right?”

“Yes.”

I was a realtor in Casper. That address sounded vaguely familiar. I stood and made my way to a nearby lavatory, where I sat on the toilet and opened my phone. Sure enough, 1531 Apple Tree Lane was a house I’d shown the previous week. The woman interested in buying it needed a place that was handicap accessible because her husband had just suffered a paralyzing stroke. The house was listed with a different realty company, and she hadn’t made an offer.

Right then and there, I wanted to call my husband, Rick, a police detective, but I didn’t want to make my seat mate suspicious if he even noticed my absence. So, I stood, flushed the toilet for good measure, washed my hands, and returned to my seat. I leaned my head back, closed my eyes, and tried unsuccessfully to sleep.

The plane couldn’t have landed in Denver, Colorado, soon enough. After retrieving my baggage and rental car, all the while making sure Roger Newton wasn’t anywhere near me, I locked the car doors, and, with trembling fingers, punched in Rick’s cell number. It was only seven thirty, so he wouldn’t be at the station yet. When he answered, my voice was shaking when I said, “Oh, honey, you’re not gonna believe this.”

“Lucy, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

After I explained the situation, Rick gave a low whistle. “Jesus! Are you sure he didn’t see you watching him?”

“I’m pretty sure. He was hunched over that monitor the whole time, squinting. It’s a wonder he doesn’t have a headache.”

“He probably does. I sure hope he isn’t driving. I think I told you that only last week, my buddy Tyler, who works at Magic City Computers, spoke to a group of Chase Bank employees about protecting themselves while working in coffee shops or airplanes.”

“I remember that.”

“Well, he said Roger Newton, the President, wasn’t there. Go figure. Well, when I get the cuffs on him, I’ll tell him if he’d come to Tyler’s presentation, he wouldn’t be in this mess.”

I laughed, in spite of myself. “Seriously, I don’t know if there’s anything he could have done to protect himself. He looked like he was really having trouble seeing.”

“And he’s plotting to murder his wife so he can cash in on her life insurance policy. Don’t that beat all? Well, I’ll get on this right away. You stay safe. Call me when you get to the hotel, okay?”

“I will.”

I started the car and looked at my watch. The real estate convention I planned to attend wasn’t scheduled to start until nine. The Holiday Inn, where I would stay and where the convention would be held, was only about a fifteen-minute drive away. I figured I’d have plenty of time to get settled and grab a bite to eat before the first session started.

When I walked into the hotel lobby, I stopped short. Roger Newton stood at the registration counter, rubbing his temple as he spoke to the clerk. My heart pounded. His back was to me, so I didn’t think he saw me, but I wasn’t about to take any chances. I turned and marched out the way I’d come. With trembling hands, I unlocked my car, got in, and locked all doors. I drove away from the loading zone and found a secluded spot at the back end of the building, constantly checking my rear view mirror to be sure he wasn’t running after me.

After I parked, I called Rick again. When he answered, he said, “Babe, I was just about to call you. I just got off the phone with Chase Bank. Mr. Newton is in Denver at a bankers’ conference at the Holiday Inn where you’re staying.”

“I know. I just saw him in the lobby. I’m back in my car now, and I don’t think he saw me.”

“Good, look, I think you’d better skip this realtors’ convention and come home as soon as possible. This guy may not see very well but still…”

Normally, I rebelled against Rick’s protectiveness, but this time, he was right. What if Roger Newton did see me and was involved with some sort of mob? It wasn’t worth the information and insight I would gain at the convention. “Okay, I’ll see if I can get a flight out today.”

My heart sank when I discovered that there were no seats on any of the flights returning to Casper from Denver International Airport that day. I booked a seat on a flight that left early the next morning.

When I called Rick with this information, he said, “That’ll have to do. Now find another hotel, preferably with room service. You shouldn’t be going out once you get settled.”

“You’re right. I’ll see what I can do.”

The Mariott wasn’t too far, and they had a cancelation. It was more expensive than I would have liked, but it had room service, free wireless Internet, and other amenities I could use while hiding out.

Once I was settled, I called Rick to tell him where I was. “Great!” he said. “I’M heading out now to Mountain View, where Carla Newton works. Try to get some rest. I’ll be in touch.”

Despite my anxiety, I slept for a couple of hours, then spent the rest of the day working, watching television, and ordering delicious meals from room service. Every time someone knocked on the door, I looked through the peep hole and didn’t open the door until I was sure it wasn’t Roger Newton or a possible henchman.

Rick called every so often with updates. Carla Newton would spend the night at the rehab facility where she worked, since she needed specialized equipment to help with her personal care. Rick and another officer would steak out the property so they could arrest Dirk G. when he arrived. There wasn’t evidence of Roger Newton’s involvement in any criminal activity other than the plot to murder his wife.

I was still anxious when I turned in that night, but the bed was so comfortable, and I was tired. The door to my room was locked and chained, so there was no way anyone could come in without me knowing it.

When I woke the next morning, I found a text from Rick. “We nabbed him. Call me when you get to the airport. I’ll be up.”

I did just that while waiting for my flight in the terminal. “How did it go?” I asked.

“Great! This Dirk G. character was a real amateur. Right away, he told me who hired him and where he was. The Denver police have Roger Newton now.”

“That’s a relief.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you at the airport when you get into Casper.”

“You don’t have to do that. My car is there.”

“Then I’ll follow you home. Will see you then.” For once, I didn’t argue.

When my plane landed in Casper, I found Rick in the baggage claim area talking to a woman in a wheelchair. Could it be Carla Newton, I wondered. If so, what was she doing here?

Rick saw me, and we rushed into each other’s arms. After a quick embrace, he turned to the woman in the wheelchair and said, “Mrs. Newton wanted to come and thank you personally for being such a nosey seat mate to her husband.”

I smiled, bent,  and extended my hand to her. “I’m glad I could help, but I’m so sorry about all this.”

She took my hand and smiled in return, then shrugged. “I should have known something was up. I recently discovered him having an affair with a woman with two good legs. When I confronted him, he told me she meant nothing to him and the relationship was over. He then insisted I buy this life insurance policy and was so happy when I agreed. I thought a move to a new place would give us a fresh start, but I guess I was wrong. It’s a good thing we hadn’t yet signed the lease on the place we found.”

“Did you have an offer on your house?” I asked.

“Nope,” she answered. “and I called the realtor yesterday and  told him to take it off the market. I’ve got enough to deal with right now, and the last thing I need to worry about is moving. However, your husband tells me you’re a darn good realtor, so if I ever decide to sell, I’ll call you.”

“Thank you,” I said. I retrieved a business card from my purse and handed it to her.  “If there’s anything else I can do, please let me know, and again, I’m so sorry.”

“Hey, I’m alive, thanks to you, so don’t be sorry. By the way, Roger called me this morning from the Denver police station. He said somebody set him up. I told him that if he’d only taken my advice and learned braille, he could have gotten one of those braille tablets, and nobody would have been the wiser.”

 

THE END

 

The above story appears in this year’s fall/winter issue of Magnets and Ladders.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Thursday Book Feature: Campbell’s Rambles

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the book I reviewed last year, the author describes how her guide dog became a source of unconditional love while she was in an abusive relationship. Patty is rewriting this book and will make it part of a trilogy about her life experiences. It’ll be exciting to see how this turns out. Meanwhile, read the original.

 

via Thursday Book Feature: Campbell’s Rambles

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Essays Offer Glimpse of Life as Blind Parent #Thursday Book Feature

Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark

By Jo Elizabeth Pinto

Copyright 2019.

 

In this collection of short pieces, the author describes what it’s like to be a blind parent to a sighted child. The title was inspired by her daughter’s response when a teacher asked her what it’s like to have a blind mother.

She talks about little cooking mistakes she made like using apple sauce instead of spaghetti sauce. She explains how she educated her daughter’s classmates and others about her blindness. She discusses cooking, gardening, and doing art projects with her daughter and provides recipes and craft ideas. She reflects on school violence after her daughter endured lock-down drills in elementary school and actually became involved in “the real thing.”

Even though I’m not a parent, I enjoyed reading this book because it brought back memories from when I was a visually impaired child and when I was a visually impaired adult married to my totally blind husband Bill. The author’s cooking disasters reminded me of the time Bill, before his strokes, put what he thought were muffins in the oven, and they turned out to be fully cooked sausages. The scene where the author fell and her daughter chastised a  passer-by for laughing instead of stopping to help reminded me of how my younger brother, when we were kids, said to other children, “Stop staring at my sister.”

As a caregiver to my late husband, I could relate to her feelings of inadequacy and fear of being turned in for neglect or abuse. I loved the last piece in which she explains how she accidentally put garlic instead of sprinkles on her daughter’s ice cream sundae. It was a great way to end the collection with humor.

Some people, especially those in the social work industry, are under the misconception that blind people cannot be parents. As a result, blind parents have been forced to fight for their children after giving birth. This book should be required reading for anyone training in social work and other professions that require working with disabled people on a regular basis.

In fact, everybody should read this book. You never know when you will encounter a blind parent. Before you shove them aside in a grocery store, laugh at them because they’ve fallen on the ice, or call the Department of Family Services because you think they can’t cope, read this book and realize that blind parents are no different from sighted ones.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Impossible Dream #Monday Musical Memories

The musical this song is from was one of my late husband Bill’s favorites. After he suffered his first stroke, and it was evident that he wouldn’t be walking anytime soon, I worked to achieve what some might consider an impossible dream, caring for him at home. It was hard work, learning to perform all of Bill’s personal care tasks, but I did it.

Meanwhile, he tried to reach his unreachable star, to walk again. He never reached that star, but I reached mine, caring for him at home for six years, almost until his last days. You can read more about this in my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

Susan Boyle’s beautiful rendition of this song brought all this to mind. I hope you find it as moving as I did.

 

How about you? Did you have a dream that you or anyone else thought was impossible? Did you achieve it?

 

New! ! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

I’m a Disabled Writer #Essay

I’m taking a stand against so-called political correctness. Recently, during a meeting of one of my writing organizations, Behind Our Eyes, we discussed the use of language in writing. This got me thinking about how I’ve never liked the term “people with disabilities.” It’s too wordy, like saying, “cats with blackness” or cars with whiteness.” We normally say, “black cats” and “white cars” so why not “disabled people.”

Being disabled is part of who a person is. A cat isn’t ashamed to be black, and a car isn’t ashamed to be white. So, people with physical or mental impairments should never be ashamed to be disabled people.

That said, I’ll no longer refer to writers with disabilities. I’ll say, “disabled writers.” Instead of telling people that I have a visual impairment, I’ll say I’m visually impaired. It’s a part of who I am, and I’m not ashamed of it.

***

By the way, today, my totally blind and partially paralyzed late husband and I would have been married fourteen years. Rest in peace, sweetheart. I love you.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.