Three Little Birds #Monday Musical Memories

I have a nasty habit of worrying. I keep telling myself it doesn’t do any good, that whatever worries me will work out one way or another, but that doesn’t always help. I started worrying when I was thirteen years old.

At the time, all my friends had baby-sitting jobs. So naturally, I wanted one. I didn’t need the money. I just liked the idea of caring for smaller children. My parents, who were active in community theater, finally decided I was old enough to be left home alone with my younger brother Andy.

I then discovered that baby-sitting wasn’t easy. Andy rarely respected my authority. He was supposed to go to bed at nine o’clock, but when the time came, getting him there was a feat comparable to climbing Mount Everest. I cajoled, threatened, begged. Finally, after about fifteen minutes of arguing, he gave in. He was six years old and could get himself ready and into bed. Once he was asleep, the house was oddly quiet, and the nightmare began.

I lay awake, waiting for the reassuring hum of my parents’ car pulling into the garage next to my bedroom. Most nights, they were home by ten thirty. But one night, they still hadn’t returned by eleven.

I lay there, wondering what to do. My stomach, after having been tied up in knots for the past hour and a half, finally revolted. I leaped out of bed and dashed for the nearest bathroom, which was off the master bedroom. Andy often slept in our parents’ bed until they came home. So naturally, my vomiting woke him up. For once, he was nice. He offered to call Joan, a family friend Mother said we could contact in an emergency. I thought that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe she would even come over and stay with us until our folks came home.

When Andy reached her on the bedside phone and explained that I was sick and Mother and Dad weren’t home yet, she suggested I brush my teeth and get back into bed and she would try to find our folks. I did as she suggested. Andy let me snuggle with him in our parents’ bed, a rare treat since my baby brother was getting past the cuddly stage.

A few minutes later, Joan called back and said she hadn’t been able to find our parents. I burst into tears, proclaiming that they’d been killed in a car accident and we were now orphans. This possibility didn’t seem to bother Andy. He just lay there, saying nothing.

Joan was sympathetic and patient. She assured me that our parents were probably out drinking somewhere and they would be home soon. She stayed on the phone with me until I felt sleepy. When Mother and Dad finally came home around two in the morning, they found us both asleep in their bed.

Because I’d been sick the night before, I was allowed to stay home from school the next day. Mother told me that if the incident from the previous night happened again, she would hire a baby-sitter. I wanted to tell her she could do that. I was done with that career. But I was too proud.

Mother also berated me for scaring Andy with the notion that we were orphans. What would she have done in my situation? Dad told me I just needed to go to sleep, and they would get home when they got home. That was easier said than done.

From then on, play rehearsal nights and any time our parents went out without us became a source of dread. Most nights, they were home early, but other nights, they weren’t. I thought if I went to bed while Andy was still up, I could be asleep before our folks came home and wouldn’t be responsible if Andy decided not to go to bed at his appointed time. Although I fell asleep, I had weird dreams and woke frequently. I never rested easy until our parents’ car pulled into the garage.

When I got into high school, I finally stopped worrying about our parents when they were out late. But I’ve never stopped worrying about things beyond my control. I often think of “what if” scenarios. Because of my vivid imagination, that’s why I’m a writer.

If you’re not familiar with the song I’m featuring today, you’re probably wondering what three little birds have to do with all this. In the song, three little birds deliver a message that we shouldn’t worry, that every little thing will be all right. If I’d heard this song back in my first baby-sitting days, would it have changed my perspective? Who knows?

 

How about you? Are you a worrier? Have you ever worried unnecessarily?

 

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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Like a Prayer #Monday Musical Memories

My late husband Bill once told me he fell in love with my voice. So, the song I’m featuring today expresses what he must have been feeling. I don’t think he’d heard it, or he would have included it in one of several cassette tapes he sent me containing music he’d downloaded from the Internet before we were married. I hadn’t heard it until recently while streaming an 80’s station from Amazon Music, but when I did, I immediately thought of Bill. The song must have come out after I lost interest in popular music in 1985.

Madonna’s words can be hard to understand at times. So, I’ve copied the lyrics from Google and pasted them below the video. To learn more about Bill and me, you can read My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

Like a Prayer
Madonna

 

Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home
When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I’ll take you there
I hear your voice, it’s like an angel sighing
I have no choice, I hear your voice
Feels like flying
I close my eyes, Oh God I think I’m falling
Out of the sky, I close my eyes
Heaven help me
When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I’ll take you there
Like a child you whisper softly to me
You’re in control just like a child
Now I’m dancing
It’s like a dream, no end and no beginning
You’re here with me, it’s like a dream
Let the choir sing
When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I’ll take you there
When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel a power
Just like a prayer you know I’ll take you there
Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home
Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there
Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there
It’s like a dream to me
Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there
It’s like a dream to me
Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there
It’s like a dream to me
Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there
It’s like a dream to me
Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there
Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery
Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice your voice can take me there
Your voice can take me there, just like a prayer
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Patrick Leonard / Madonna Ciccone
Like a Prayer lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

***

What about you? Was there something in particular about your significant other that captivated 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.

***

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The Garden of Small Beginnings #Thursday Book Feature

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Garden of Small Beginnings

by Abbi Waxman

 

Several years after her husband was killed in a car accident, Lillian is still devastated. She works as an illustrator for a publishing firm. One of her assignments is to provide pictures for a book on vegetables. For research, she and her little girls, along with her sister, take a gardening class where they meet some interesting characters. Together, they create a community garden, but vegetables, fruits, and flowers aren’t the only things that grow there.

Each chapter is preceded by a section that explains how to grow a particular plant. Those aren’t as interesting as the story. I love the humorous way the author portrays grief, gardening, romance, and healing. Her telling of the story from Lillian’s first-person point of view, as if she were talking to you face to face, gives it a more casual touch. The ending ties everything up but leaves the reader wondering.

One thing I don’t like about this book is the idea that a woman needs to have a man in order to be happy. I’ve been content to live most of my life without a man. That said, even if you’re not into gardening, which I’m not, and even if you’re not into romance, which I’m not, you’ll get a good laugh and a good feeling from this book.

 

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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The Letter That Changed My Life #Book Excerpt


Image contains: Abbie, smiling.
According to Your Daily Poem, this past Sunday was World Letter Writing Day. These days, who writes a letter with pen and paper, puts it in an envelope with a stamp, and deposits it in a mailbox? Well, in 2005 before we were married, my late husband Bill did just that. At the time, he was living in Fowler, Colorado, and I was living here in Sheridan, Wyoming. The letter he sent me was quite a shock, as you’ll see in the excerpt from My Ideal Partner below.

***

“Dear Abbie, I’m writing to ask for your hand in marriage,” the letter stated.

“Oh, no,” I said, as the index finger of my right hand scanned the Braille words on the page.

It was a Saturday evening in January 2005. This was all a bad dream, I thought, as I sat in the living room of my apartment. Any minute, my alarm clock would ring. I would wake up, and everything would be as it was before. Instead, the talking clock in the bedroom announced that it was 8:30.

***

How about you? Do you still write letters the old-fashioned way?

 

 

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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Shrimp Boats #Monday Musical Memories

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.In celebration of Labor Day, I’ll sing you a song about a job that takes men away from their families for several nights at a time. It’s sung from the viewpoint of the women, who wait on shore and sing for joy when they see the boats approach from a distance.

Shrimp Boats

How about you? Did your job ever take you away from your family for more than one night? Did your spouse or any other family members have to travel for work? What was it like when they were gone? Are any of you in the military or with family members in the military dealing with long absences?

 

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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Anthology Portrays Life in the West #Thursday Book Feature

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the Wes

by Linda M. Hasselstrom, Nancy Curtis, et al.

 

In this collection of essays and poems, 125 women from six states share their experiences living in the west. Most stories are about ranch life. Some relate childhood memories while others share reminiscences from adult years. Some pieces are by women in other professions such as a veterinarian and a teacher in a one-room school. All these works are about women who survive what life throws at them, whether it’s a cantankerous bull or an undesirable husband.

I met several of the authors featured in this anthology through Wyoming Writers. It was refreshing to read their work, some of it for the first time. Having been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, I enjoyed reading these women’s stories of hardships on the prairie and being thankful I wasn’t there.

In one essay, a woman talks about how some people think ranch life is glamorous. If you’re under this misconception, read this book. It’ll open your eyes to a world of hard work, hard times, and some rewards. You’ll respect the rancher when you finish the book.

 

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

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 Other Books

 

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome: A Novel

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Leaving #Fiction

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.The following was published in Magnets and Ladders, an online magazine featuring work by authors with disabilities. It also won second place in a contest sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind. It’s my submission to Stevie Turner’s Share Your Short Story contest for this month.

Leaving

Sally felt a strange tension at the breakfast table one sunny April morning. Her husband Jack appeared nervous. He usually seemed confident and in control, but today, it was as if he were waiting for the right moment to tell her something, something she didn’t want to hear. Just as she took a bite of her bagel, he looked her in the eye and said, “I’m sorry, honey, but I’m leaving you for another woman.”

She choked on her bagel and wondered why she was bothering to try and remove the obstacle. Maybe it would be for the best if I went right here and now.

Jack, a prominent heart surgeon at a Denver hospital, knew the Heimlich maneuver. In a flash, he was behind her, his arms wrapped around her middle, his fingers on her chest pressing inward and upward. After a few thrusts, the piece of bagel flew out of her mouth and landed on her plate with a soft plop.

“Here honey, drink some orange juice.”

Obedient as usual, she took the glass in her trembling hand and sipped from it. “April Fools, right?” she said.

“No, it’s no joke.”

Sally stared at him, trying to comprehend. “Is it that bitch you recently hired as your receptionist?”

“That’s not a nice thing to say about Martha. She’s been a big help in the office, and I was lucky to find her after Darleen quit at the last minute.”

“And she’s a good looker,” said Sally, her body stiffening. “Don’t think I didn’t notice her that day last week when you forgot your lunch, and I dropped it off on my way to the DAR meeting. I saw her skirt cut just above the knees, her see-through blouse that showed way too much cleavage. She would have been a good catch for any man. Why did it have to be you?” She fought back tears.

Jack knelt by her side and took her hand. “Honey, I don’t know how it happened. I guess I was captivated by the long blonde hair falling down her back.”

Sally ran her free hand through her short dark curls. “I thought you liked my hair,” she said, as tears cascaded down her cheeks.

“I did like your hair before you had it cut short and got that permanent and coloring.”

“I’m fifty-five years old. My hair is turning gray. I wanted to look good for you.”

Jack stroked the top of her head with his free hand. “Honey, you were beautiful the way you were.”

Sally brightened. “Okay, I’ll grow my hair long. I won’t have Rachel at Clips and More curl it, and I’ll ask her if she can restore it to its natural color. Will you stay with me if I do that?”

Jack sighed. “Honey, I’m afraid it’s too late for that. Martha’s pregnant.”

“Pregnant!” Sally jerked her hand away and shoved her chair back from the table. “You’re the same age I am. How could you be so stupid? She must be at least twenty years younger.”

“I don’t know,” said Jack with a sigh, as he hung his head. “but I have to do the right thing.”

“She could get rid of the baby like I had to do with Shirley.”

“That’s not funny. You know as well as I do that our daughter would have been mentally retarded. She wouldn’t have had a happy life. As far as we know, Martha’s baby is healthy. I see no reason why she should have an abortion.”

“You bastard!” said Sally. It was all she could do to keep from striking him. “Do you love Martha?”

“I guess I do.”

“More than you love me,” said Sally, wiping her nose with the sleeve of her bathrobe. Jack sighed again.

“I should have known something like this was going on. You seemed to be spending too much time away from home. I know how dedicated you are to your work, and you don’t like to leave your patients until they’re out of the woods, so I shrugged off my suspicions. Then last week when I saw Martha, I wondered if you two were having an affair. I had no reason to think so.”

She rested her head in her hands. “Last night when Maria Gonzales was rejecting her heart transplant, and you needed to stay with her, I tried to reach you on your cell a couple of hours later, and you didn’t answer. I called the hospital, and the operator said you left an hour earlier.”

Fresh tears fell, and Sally removed a Kleenex from her pocket and wiped her eyes. “I told myself Maria had died, and you and your colleagues were drowning your sorrows at My Buddy’s Place like you do sometimes after you lose a patient. You didn’t come home until two in the morning, but when I smelled booze on your breath, I was reassured. Now, before I can offer my condolences, you drop this… this… bomb.” She blew her nose.

“I called the hospital a little while ago. Maria is doing much better. The anti-rejection medication we gave her last night seems to be working.”

“I sacrificed a lot. It was bad enough I had to give up my job at the flower shop when I married you and be a stay-at-home wife and mother.”

“I thought you wanted to…”

“I loved you, damn it, and I wanted to make you happy, and look where that got me.”

“You had Judy. You were involved in the Garden Club, the DAR, and the Civic Theater Guild. Wasn’t that enough?”

“It was until I had to give up Shirley. You don’t know what it’s like to kill your own baby, a child of your own flesh and blood. You don’t know the emptiness I felt all these years. She was just an embryo to you, but to me, she’s still a human being, and I miss her.” Huge, racking sobs shook her, as she buried her head in her hands a second time.

“Now you’re being dramatic,” said Jack, rising to his feet. “Save it for your next play, why don’t you?”

“Then I had to have my tubes tied,” said Sally through her tears.

Jack paced the floor. “You and I both know that there was a good chance you could have carried another disabled child. We were lucky Judy was normal.”

A car horn sounded outside. “Who the hell’s that?” asked Sally, jerking upright.

“That’s Martha. Since my car’s still in the shop, she offered to give me a ride.” He picked up his coat from a nearby chair and put it on.

“That’s it. You’re going to walk out, just like that.”

“I’ll come back this afternoon and pick up some of my stuff while you’re at your Garden Club meeting,” he said, jingling the car keys in his pocket. “My car ought to be ready by lunchtime.”

Sally felt a sense of desperation, as he turned toward the door. “What about me? What am I going to tell Judy if she ever calls and asks to talk to you? Just like you, she works too hard and can’t get away. She hardly ever calls or e-mails. She didn’t even come home for your fiftieth birthday party.”

“I’ll call Judy tonight when I get settled at Martha’s. You’ll be hearing from our lawyer soon. You can have the house and your car, and I’ll pay you a generous alimony each month.”

He turned back to her, and his face softened. “Maybe you and your friends should think about opening that flower shop. I’m sorry I discouraged you from doing that last year. You’ve always been interested in flowers, and I shouldn’t have insisted you quit your job and be a stay-at-home wife and mother.”

“And you shouldn’t have made me have an abortion and then get my tubes tied. Just get the hell out of my sight!” Sally rose to her feet.

The horn sounded a second time. Jack turned and hurried out the door. Sally stood and gazed out the kitchen’s bay window at Martha’s red BMW, as it idled in the driveway. She watched Jack climb into the passenger seat and the car pull away.

She grabbed several trash bags before heading upstairs. In the master bedroom, she emptied Jack’s closet, shoving his pants, shirts, jackets, and shoes into the bags. She cleared his dresser drawers of briefs, socks, and ties. His toiletries on the dresser and in the adjoining bathroom and books and CDs in the study downstairs met the same fate. She even disposed of his medical school diploma, home insurance records, and other important papers in the bottom drawer of his desk.

She would have taken a hatchet to the computer, stereo, and other items, but that would have been too much work. Besides, the sanitation truck would be there any minute, and she had better things to do.

She needed to make several trips to the dumpster in the alley behind the house. As she was stuffing the last bag into the bin, the truck pulled up. Self-conscious about being seen in her bathrobe, she waved to the crew before hurrying indoors.

She retrieved a notepad and pen from the top drawer of Jack’s desk in the study and went upstairs. The note she left on Jack’s dresser read, “You fucking son of a bitch, you are trash, and so is all your stuff.”

In the bathroom, she ran hot water in the tub. In the bedroom, she removed her bathrobe and hung it on the closet door. She placed her slippers on the floor at her side of the bed. She took off her nightgown, folded it, and placed it in its usual drawer.

In the bathroom, she stepped into the tub. Leaving the water running, she sat back, let the warmth surround her, and thought of Shirley. She hoped she and her daughter could make up for lost time.

With her right hand, she picked up the razor that lay on the side of the tub and held it poised over her left wrist. She hesitated for a moment, then cut deep, ignoring the pain. As the bath water gradually turned red, she closed her eyes.

 

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

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 Other Books

 

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

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

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