Honor the White Cane


I was inspired to write this post by an article in Consumer Vision, an online publication designed by and for blind and visually impaired people. On July 6th, 1963, the National Federation of the Blind called on all state governors to proclaim October 15th as White Cane Safety Day. On October 6th, 1964, a Congress joint resolution was signed, authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15th as White Cane Safety Day. Within hours after this legislation was passed, Linden B. Johnson was the first United States President to recognize the white cane as a symbol of independence for blind and visually impaired people. Click here to learn more about White Cane Safety Day.

Now, all states have laws requiring drivers to stop so pedestrians with white canes can cross streets safely. However, these laws are hard to enforce. Years ago when a police officer visited a support group for the visually impaired I once facilitated, he said that if we got offending drivers’ license plates, they could be ticketed. My nose needs to be against the car’s bumper in order to read the license plate. If the car’s moving, forget it.

A year or so later while walking home, I was approached by a policeman on a bicycle who asked me if drivers were stopping to let me cross streets with my white cane. When I told him what the other officer said, he responded that he would bring it up at roll call. This inspired my romance novel, We Shall Overcome, but I digress.

The next time you’re driving down the street, and you see someone with a white cane attempting to cross, please stop, even if you’re already late for work. Remember that some of us with white canes don’t see oncoming traffic. Also, please share this with other drivers, using one or more of the options below. Let’s make our streets safe for people who are blind or visually impaired.

October 15th is also National Poetry Day so here’s a poem I wrote several years ago about my white cane. It appears in my collection, That’s Life. Click on the title to hear me read it.




When not in use,

it’s folded, tucked under my arm

or stuffed in a back pack.

When I step outside,

I pull free the nylon holding it together.

It unfolds, clicks into place.

I walk away, ready to face adversity.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.


Review: Girl in the Dark


Girl in the Dark: A Memoir of a Life Without Light

By Anna Lyndsey

Copyright 2015


In this memoir, the author shares her experiences with severe photo sensitivity. It started in May of 2005. While sitting in front of her computer screen in her London office, her face suddenly felt painfully hot, as if someone were blow-torching it, she says. A fan next to her computer helped but didn’t totally eliminate the problem. Weeks later, she experienced the same thing during a meeting, perhaps as a result of the fluorescent lights in the conference room.

It got to the point where even sunlight caused her pain, and she was forced to quit her job. She asked her boyfriend Pete if she could move in to his home in Hampshire with him, and he agreed. Despite her condition, he proposed to her, and she accepted. They planned a wedding but had to postpone it because she got to the point where she needed to be in darkness most of the time in order to get any relief.

She describes how she made one room of her house completely dark and spent hours on end there, listening to audio books and the radio, venturing out only for meals and sometimes having to eat in the dark room. During the summer months, the room was unbearable, but not being in the room would have been worse.

Over the years, there were times when she was able to take walks outside between dusk and dawn. She describes how she and Pete fashioned a contraption they called a puppy cage, which allowed her to travel without being exposed to light, but because of her severe sensitivity, traveling during the day was difficult. As a result, she rarely saw a doctor and could only consult with a dermatologist about her condition by phone once in a while. She tried homeopathic and other remedies, but nothing worked for long.

She and Pete were finally able to have a wedding during one of her remission periods. This gives the book a somewhat happy ending, but Anna Lyndsey will probably have this condition for the rest of her life.

I like the way she tells her story in present tense so that it reads like fiction. I was with her the whole time, feeling her pain and frustration at being confined in the dark and her joy of spending time outdoors, appreciating nature.

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article in The New Yorker about this book. The article’s author (I’ll call him Kevin.) consulted dermatology experts in the U.S. not familiar with Anna Lyndsey’s case, who said that sensitivity that severe wasn’t possible. He then questioned the validity of her story, especially since she wrote the book under a pen name and changed people and place names to protect privacy. Intrigued, I wondered if Girl in the Dark was one of those memoirs that would turn out not to be true.

As I read the book, though, it occurred to me that Kevin may not have even picked it up, although he wrote that he had a copy with him when he went to England to interview her. If he read the book, he wouldn’t have even considered asking if he could use his digital recorder during the interview because even the light from that device might have caused her pain for hours.

I can understand why Anna Lyndsey used a pen name and changed people and place names. On the rare occasions she was able to travel during the day before her condition got too bad, she wore a mask and hat to protect her face. This elicited stares and avoidance from others on trains and in other public places. It’s way too bad that people all over the world will not open their minds and hearts to others who are different.

Girl in the Dark was one of those books that helped me put my life in perspective. Caring for my late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes for seven years is nothing compared to spending days and hours on end in the dark or bearing painful consequences otherwise. I’m so thankful each day I can sit at my computer and write and not be affected by the glow from the screen or sunlight streaming through the windows.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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A Losing Battle (A Poem)




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I just found out that today is World Alzheimer’s Day. This inspired me to post a poem I wrote years ago that appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. Click on the title to hear me read it.


A Losing Battle


My get up and go

just got up and went.

I’m feeling so down.

My whole life’s been spent.


I sit in my chair

day in and day out.

Sometimes I cry.

Sometimes I shout.


I don’t know one soul

from the next, don’t you see?

I can only smile

when they talk to me.


I need help each day,

am unsure what to do.

Everything’s jumbled.

Everything’s new.


Although I can walk,

I don’t know where to go.

Nothing’s familiar.

There’s nothing I know.


Sometimes it’s hopeless.

I see no light

at the end of the tunnel,

no daybreak in sight.


It’s just as well

there’s no forthcoming dawn–

for my get up and go’s

gotten up and gone.


I’m so thankful that my late husband Bill never had Alzheimer’s. His mind was clear until almost the very end. To read more of our story, please check out my new memoir. I can just imagine how awful it would be to care for a loved one who didn’t know who I was.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.


Review: Tuesdays with Morrie





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Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson

by Mitch Albom

Copyright 1997


Years after graduating from college, sports writer Mitch Albom reconnected with Morrie, his former psychology professor, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He describes how he and Morrie spent the last few months of the old man’s life together. His visits were considered his last class with the professor. The only course requirements were to adjust the old man’s pillows from time to time and do other personal care tasks. Graduation was the professor’s funeral, and the final paper was this memoir. The author also describes his life during and after college and gives some biographical information about Morrie.

This book was featured not too long ago on BookDaily. I found it depressing, but what could I have expected from a book about a young man learning lessons about life and death from a dying one? In a way, Morrie reminded me of Bill, although Bill wasn’t terminally ill. Morrie always talked about his death. The only time Bill even touched on the subject of his demise was when he planned his own funeral.

Morrie said something that struck me as interesting. When you depend on others for everything, even wiping your bottom, it’s like being a baby again. You enjoy being cared for the way your mother took care of you in your infancy.

Bill often laughed when I cleaned him up after a bowel movement or inserted a suppository. At first, I thought he was embarrassed, but now I realize he was enjoying the physical attention. That was why he often asked me to scratch his back or perform other physical ministrations he couldn’t do himself. He was craving the attention his mother gave him because it provided comfort. Realizing that probably wouldn’t have made dropping everything and performing these tasks any easier. To learn more about his experiences in being a baby again and my caregiving adventures, check out My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Visit My Facebook Page.


Little Apartment in the Big City

Thanks to Ella for inspiring this. In her post, she talks about moving to a different location and starting a job in a place where she knows no one and has to prove herself. This is daunting for anyone but can be complicated by a disability. In what I’m about to relate, some names have been changed to protect privacy.

In 1987, Fargo, North Dakota, was large compared to my home town of Sheridan, Wyoming. A music therapy student, I was accepted for an internship in a nursing home there. Although I was anxious to be on my own in a new place, I felt some trepidation, as my parents and I drove into the town late one Sunday night in August after being on the road for twelve hours. I was comforted by the fact that my parents would stay with me until I found a place to live and got settled and that my internship wouldn’t start until the middle of September.

We found a motel near the freeway where we spent the night. The next morning, Dad bought a local paper and a city map. He scoured the classified ad section for apartments. After making phone calls and arranging to see a few that he found, we checked out of the motel and ate breakfast before beginning our home hunting adventure.

Because of my visual impairment, it was important to find a place within easy walking distance to the nursing home where I would work for the next six months. We had no luck. The apartments were either not affordable, too small, or didn’t meet my needs for other reasons.

A few hours later, discouraged, we were driving aimlessly, looking for a place to eat lunch when Mother said, “Oh look, there’s a senior citizen high rise like the ones in Sheridan.”

“It’s a little too far for her to walk to the nursing home,” said Dad.

“They probably have a minibus like the one in Sheridan that could take her,” said Mother. “They could also take her to the grocery store.”

“She doesn’t want to live with old folks,” said Dad, as he pulled into the parking lot.

I was thinking the same thing but said nothing. As we walked into the lobby, Mother said, “There’s a bulletin board, and it says which apartments are empty. It looks like there are several.”

In the office, we spoke to the manager. “You really don’t want to live with old folks, do you?” he asked.

Were my thoughts being broadcast to the world? “She’ll be working at Red River Care Center,” said Mother. “It’s a little far for her to walk so maybe your minibus could take her.”

“Our van only takes people shopping and to medical appointments,” said the manager. “Besides, this facility only serves senior citizens.” I was relieved, but where would I live?

After lunch at a nearby McDonald’s, we found several other apartment buildings that weren’t designated for senior citizens, but none of them had vacancies. “What about downtown?” asked Dad. “You could take the bus to the Red River Care Center.”

“Yeah, why didn’t I think of that?” I said, feeling hopeful. “When I went to that stupid rehab center in Topeka several years ago, I learned how to take buses.”

“I don’t know,” said Mother. “You might have to change buses and…”

“Maybe not,” said Dad. “If you get an apartment downtown close to the transfer point, then you’d just have to take one bus. Let’s go take a look.”

We found the city bus transfer station which was right next to the greyhound terminal. “Now you know where to go to catch the bus home for Christmas,” said Mother, as we parked in the lot between the two bus stations.

The holiday season was farthest from my mind, as we entered the city bus center. To my surprise, the gentleman behind the counter was very helpful. When we told him I was looking for a place to live downtown in the hope of having easy access to work, he said, “Oh yeah, if you live close to here, you’ll just take one bus to the Red River Care Center. In fact, there’s a building a few blocks away that might have an opening. It’s an old hotel that was converted into apartments. It’s called Grant Street Place.”

We found a pay phone, and after locating the apartment building’s address and phone number, Dad called and made an appointment for the next day. We then found another motel room.

The next morning at 9 a.m., we arrived at Grant Street Apartments, a six-story structure located on a busy downtown thoroughfare. In the lobby, a woman greeted us and introduced herself as Becky, one of two managers. “We have a lot of young people here,” she said. “There are also quite a few older people. We all look out for each other.”

The two vacant apartments were an efficiency and a one-bedroom. I liked them both, but the efficiency only had a couch that folded into a bed, and I didn’t want to mess with that. Since the rent on both apartments was about the same, I chose the one-bedroom.

The rooms were small but usable. There was a combination living and dining room with a kitchenette, a full bathroom on one side, and a bedroom on the other. The kitchenette had a sink, microwave, two-burner stove, and small refrigerator with freezer under the counter. The main room and bedroom had light gray carpeting, and the bathroom had a white-tiled floor. The apartment overlooked an alley so although there wasn’t much of a view, there wasn’t much street noise, either. It was simply furnished with an armchair, end table, and dining table with lamp in the main room and in the bedroom a double bed, small table, and wardrobe.

My apartment was on the fourth floor, and the basement contained a huge laundry room. All the machines were coin-operated, and I could use them easily despite my limited vision. The basement also had a beauty shop which I frequented several times during my stay.

The building had two elevators: one in the back that tenants could use independently and one in the front that was the old-fashioned kind operated by Andy, a fellow who also picked up our garbage three days a week if we remembered to leave it outside our doors. Mailboxes were located inside the rear entrance near the self-service elevator.

The next few days were a blur of activity, as we got settled in my new home. The first order of business was to get a phone. Once that was working, Mother arranged for a cleaning service to come every other week while I was at work. Dad set up an account with a local taxi company. My parents paid for both these amenities. Since utilities and cable television were included in the rent, the only expenses I had to worry about were the phone and groceries.

We found Leeby’s, a small grocery store a few blocks away, and a supermarket called Hornbacker’s, easily accessible by bus. Buses ran every hour during the week and every two hours on weekends.

My parents stayed in the apartment with me, Mother and me sleeping in the bedroom, and Dad sleeping on the floor in the main room. On Friday night, they left on their long drive back to Sheridan. Once they were gone, I was truly on my own, but I was excited.

Before I left Wyoming, I was given the phone number for the North Dakota commission for the blind in Grand Forks. I called them, and a mobility instructor came and helped me with some routes my parents and I worked out. She also gave me phone numbers for a couple of people involved in blind bowling groups in the area. I phoned them and enjoyed bowling twice a month, and I met some nice people. This was one of few good things about that city.

At first, I rarely used the taxi. It was easy to take the bus to and from the nursing home where I worked 40-hour weeks. On Saturdays, I took the bus to Hornbacker’s and did my weekly shopping. Since I didn’t have to be at work until eleven on Wednesday, I often walked to Leeby’s early that morning if I needed a few things.

Life in my little apartment wasn’t always a bed of roses. Although the building was well maintained, and most of the neighbors I met were nice, the people above me often played loud music and had parties. I called the security officer late at night when it happened and complained to the manager, and the noise subsided for a while but started back up again.

The management had a contract with an exterminator who came every six months. Because of his process of ridding the building of rodents, all cupboards, closets, and drawers had to be emptied. The night before he was scheduled to come, I took clothes, dishes, and other items out of my drawers, cupboards, and wardrobe and laid them on every available surface except the bed. When I came home from work the next day, I put everything back. This was time consuming, and because I never saw one rat, mouse, or termite, I didn’t think it necessary. For the first time, I considered not staying in Fargo after my internship ended.

Late one night, the fire alarm rang, and as we gathered in the lobby, there appeared to be no security personnel or managers in sight. The fire department arrived and found nothing so we returned to our apartments.

Winter came and with it, extreme cold, twenty-foot snowdrifts and freezing rain. One morning during a particularly bad storm, my supervisor called and told me I didn’t need to go to work. I was relieved since the local radio announcer advised against unnecessary travel, and I wasn’t sure if I could get a cab. It was nice having a snow day. After that, I used the taxi more frequently, but since Dad often talked of walking to and from school in such conditions as a kid, I wasn’t sure how he would take the higher cab bills. I needn’t have worried.

In December, I was given two weeks off for Christmas and went home. In January, my parents drove me back to Fargo. On the morning I was to return to work and they to Sheridan, it was 40 below zero. Dad went out to start the car, returning a few minutes later to say, “Dead as a doornail.”

My parents planned to drop me off at the nursing home on their way out of town. Instead, we walked to the nearby terminal and caught the bus just in time. “God damn, it’s cold,” said Dad, as we slogged through the snow from the bus stop to the nursing home. “How the hell do you do this?”

“You’ll see when you get the next taxi bill,” I said.

Several hours later after the car was fixed, they stopped by the nursing home to say goodbye before leaving town. “Don’t worry about the cab bill,” said Dad. “It’s too cold for walking.” I was relieved.

One day, my supervisor said, “I don’t think this internship is working out.”

This was a shock since I thought things were going well, though I had difficulty keeping up with the paperwork, and it took me longer to complete other tasks. I was tempted to tell her that I didn’t like her cold city and would be only too glad to go home, but I wasn’t a quitter. When times were tough, Dad always told me not to let bastards get me down. Close to tears, I said, “I’m sorry you’re not happy with my progress so far, but if you’ll give me another chance, I’ll try harder and hope to do better.”

She gave me a second chance, but I could tell she didn’t think it would work out, and it didn’t. For the next three months, I did my best, but it seemed that almost everyone including my supervisor was against me. Others in our department were cold and came down on me for minor infractions, and one or two nurses snapped at me. The only things that kept me from giving up were the residents, who appreciated my music activities, and the love and support of my parents. My little apartment downtown became a place to which I was glad to retreat at the end of the day and a refuge I hated leaving in the morning.

The staff at the nursing home weren’t the only ones with frozen hearts. Because I was only getting so much from Social Security per month and no salary from my internship, it was hard making ends meet at times. One day when I tried to cash a check Mother sent me, the bank teller said, “There isn’t enough in your account to cover this so I can’t do it.”

At the bank in Sheridan, the employees knew me. This would never have happened. I was relieved when the manager at Leeby’s agreed to cash the check.

In March, the six months of my internship were up. My overall grade was a D. I was anxious to get home, but one of the nurses who supported me asked me to sing for her wedding in April. The day after the nuptials, I was on the bus to Sheridan.

In May when the lease on my apartment was up, Dad and I returned. By then, even the apartment manager’s heart appeared frozen, although the weather was warm. “You didn’t vacuum,” she said when she inspected my apartment. “We won’t return part of your deposit for that.” Dad and I loaded all my earthly possessions into his station wagon, drove away, and never looked back.

It was a depressing six months, and perhaps I should have felt defeated, as we left town, but I did not. I took Dad’s advice and didn’t let those North Dakota bastards get me down. Despite the D grade I received in my internship, I became a registered music therapist. Six months after I moved back to Sheridan, I found a job in a nursing home where I worked for fifteen years. In the earlier part of this century, I met my late husband Bill through a magazine. The rest of the story is in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.


What do you remember about your first time on your own after college? Tell me about it in the comments field.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.


Review: After You

After You

by JoJo Moyes

Copyright 2015.


In this sequel to Me Before You, Louisa struggles to go on after watching Will, a man she loved, a quadriplegic, take his own life. After traveling through Europe for a while, she ends up in London, living in a small apartment and working at an airport bar. An accidental fall from her apartment building’s roof catapults her into a series of interesting circumstances, further complicated by the arrival of Will’s teen-aged daughter, the result of one of his numerous affairs before his accident that left him almost totally paralyzed and before he met Louisa. The ending is more positive.

I enjoyed a recording of this book produced by Randomhouse Audio in which the British narrator did an excellent job. As I mentioned in a previous post, Me Before You delivers a negative message about people with disabilities taking their own lives. After You centers on hopeful themes of love and moving on after loss. My favorite scene was one where Louisa, while eating lunch with friends in a French restaurant, mistakenly orders beef cheeks, and I don’t think they were the ones located on the cow’s face, either. Louisa is the most memorable character in the book. With no real direction in her own life, she’s only too happy to try and sort out the life of Will’s teen-aged daughter, who is misunderstood by her own family.

Like many books I’ve read, After You helped me put my life into perspective. Losing a loved one is hard enough, but imagine how you would feel if that loved one took his own life, and you felt powerless to stop him. I’m so thankful that wasn’t the case with my late husband Bill. You can read our story in my new memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds



About Me and My Ideal Partner

In a vain attempt at shameless promotion of my new book, I recently completed a Smashwords author interview. Writers can choose from a variety of questions or make up their own. From the questions available on the site, I chose thirteen. Here they are, along with my answers.


What is your writing process?

You can edit something till the cows come home and never get anything published so here’s what I do. I put down a story or poem without worrying about typographical errors or anything I might want to change later. Then, I go back and edit. Since my late husband was a baseball fan, I’ve adapted the three-strikes-and-you’re-out method. This means I usually read through something at least three times, making changes as I go. I read my work aloud as often as I can during this process. Even after something is published, while reading it again, I always think of something I could have changed so it has to stop somewhere.

How do you approach cover design?

Being visually impaired, if I were to design my own cover, it would look like something the cat dragged in, and I don’t even have a cat. The cover of my first book was designed by the publisher. Subsequent covers consisted of photos taken by friends. So far, all my book covers have turned out pretty well so I’ll always rely on others for this instead of trying to do it myself.

What do you read for pleasure?

I enjoy romances, memoirs, humorous books, and other fiction and nonfiction titles of general interest. I don’t particularly care for horror or fantasy. To each his own.

What is your e-reading device of choice?

Because of my visual impairment, I prefer to use a Victor Reader Stream. This is a little bit bigger than a credit card but fits easily into a pocket. It allows me to download and listen to recorded and printed books in specialized formats from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and Bookshare as well as certain types of text files. I can also enjoy podcasts, music, Internet radio, and more.

Describe your desk.

I use a three-corner desk that flanks two windows in my office. It contains my desktop magnifier, computer with keyboard and modem, a box of Kleenex and various papers, and my printer which sits on top of a station with drawers containing envelopes and other necessities.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

My Ideal Partner is a detailed account of how I met and married my late husband and then cared for him at home for six years after he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

When I have a great idea for a poem or story and can get it on a computer screen, that’s the greatest joy of writing for me.

What do your fans mean to you?

My fans mean a great deal to me. If I can inspire or entertain someone, that’s great. If I can show someone he or she is not alone in the world, that’s even better. With My Ideal Partner, I hope to reach out to caregivers and let them know I’ve been in their situation and encourage them to keep on keeping on.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on a collection of short stories set in Wyoming, my home state. I got the idea after reading Ann Beattie’s The State We’re in, a collection of short stories set in her home state, Maine. One of the stories in my collection is entitled “Welcome to Wyoming” so that will probably be the title of the collection.

Who are your favorite authors?

My favorite authors are Debbie Macomber and Danielle Steel.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

I think of all the things I need to do, ideas for promoting my book and other projects, etc.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I enjoy reading, listening to podcasts, and going out with friends to a restaurant, concert, or movie. I belong to a women’s singing group that practices once a week and performs occasionally.

How do you discover the eBooks you read?

I find books to read mostly by word of mouth. I follow a couple of blogs that review books regularly, and occasionally, friends recommend books they’ve enjoyed.


You can read this interview on my author profile page. While you’re at it, you may as well buy a copy of My Ideal Partner for only $3.99. If you’re visually impaired like me and don’t use a Kindle or Nook, Smashwords offers various eBook formats that can be read on a computer or other device.

Do you have any questions about me or my new book? Please leave them in the comments field, and I’ll answer them. Happy reading.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds