Seven Deadly Sins I Learned in My Youth (Poetry)

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.It’s wrong to ask someone for help.
You should never ever play with matches.
You shouldn’t let people see your underwear.
Don’t spit food out of your mouth.
Don’t throw up all over the floor.
Don’t say, “damn,” “shit,” “fuck,” or “hell.”
Don’t ever drink the water in Mexico.

***

Now it’s your turn. The above poem contains seven lines, each with seven words and is about seven things I learned not to do when I was growing up. Write your own such poem. It doesn’t have to be about seven deadly sins. It could be about seven favorite foods or songs. Please share your poem on your own blog or in the comment field below. I look forward to reading it.

 

My 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

My Other Links

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Monday Musical Memory: Song and Poem for Graduates

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Today, I’m giving you a two-for-one special. Not only will I sing a song with a powerful message for graduates but I’ll also read a poem I wrote several years ago that I share with those in my life who are graduating. This year, my niece Ana in Florida and my cousin Darby in Colorado are graduating from high school and college respectively.

In The Sound of Music, the Reverend Mother sings this song to Maria, encouraging her to follow her heart. At the end, the song serves as a background for the family’s escape from Nazi-occupied Austria. When I was in fifth grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf & Blind, I sang in the school choir, and we performed this song for the commencement ceremony at the end of the year. Ana, Darby, and anyone else graduating this year, this poem and song are for you.

Graduate

 

Go out into the world–never look back.
Reach for the top–always look forward.
Aim as high as you can.
Dream as big as possible.
Use your mind, heart, hands,
and know you can do anything.
Trust your instincts.
Energize your life.
***
What do you remember about graduation? Did you receive gifts from family and friends? Were you in the school choir that performed during the commencement ceremony? What song did the choir sing?

 

My 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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

Thursday Book Feature: Our Souls At Night

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Our Souls At Night

by Kent Haruf

Copyright 2015.

 

In Kent Haruf’s last novel, published posthumously, Addie, a widow, is lonely after the death of her husband. In desperation, she asks her long-time neighbor, Louis, a widower, to spend nights in her bed, keeping her company. Their relationship blossoms from friendship to romance amid gossip from people in the small town where they live and despite their families’ objections.

From the beginning, this author takes us directly into the story with little description of the setting. As the story progresses, we learn about our main characters’ lives through dialog instead of paragraphs of narrative back story. All this make Our Souls at Night a sweet story about two people finding happiness in their older years. The ending, though, leaves a lot to be desired.

 

My 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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Making a Peanut Butter Sandwich for Your Partially Paralyzed Spouse If You Can’t Stand Peanut Butter

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Place two slices of whole-wheat bread on a plate, facing each other. Open a jar of Jiff chunky peanut butter, wrinkling your nose. Holding your breath, with a knife, spread generous amounts of peanut butter on both slices of bread, ⠺⠊⠩⠬ your spouse preferred creamy peanut butter, which is easier to spread. Don’t worry about the jelly. Your spouse doesn’t like it on a peanut butter sandwich.

If you haven’t passed out by now, fold both slices of peanut-buttered bread in half, smoothing the creases so the bread stays folded and wincing if your fingers come in contact with the peanut butter. This will make the sandwich easier to eat, since your spouse can only use one hand. Breathe.

Then serve your spouse the sandwich with a kiss. Note- If you two French-kiss after your spouse has eaten the sandwich, you might get the taste of peanut butter in your mouth. Gag!

In My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, I neglect to mention the fact that my late husband Bill loved peanut butter and I could never stand it. However, I talk about other foods he enjoyed eating and my cooking successes and disasters. For more information about the book and ordering links, click here.

How about you? Does your spouse like any foods that you can’t stand? How do you work around this? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment field.

 

My 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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Musical Memory Monday: A White Sport Coat

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Tis the season for the junior/senior prom. Unlike the fellow in the song I’m about to sing today, my date never changed his mind about taking me to the prom, although he almost chickened out.

When I was a senior in high school, I had a crush on Milward, but neither he nor any other boy asked me to the prom. Since Dad worked with Milward’s parents in community theater, he trusted Milward, so he said that if I asked him, and he said yes, he could borrow Dad’s station wagon. In 1980, I don’t think many boys had vehicles of their own. In any case, I never worked up the courage to ask Milward, so Dad promised to take me himself.

However, the night before the event, he suggested that we all go out to dinner instead. I was crestfallen. Mother and I were planning to shop for a dress the next day. I really wanted to go to the prom but didn’t want to go by myself, although Dad would have been willing to drop me off and pick me up later, since I couldn’t drive due to my visual impairment. I don’t remember how, but I convinced him to keep his promise.

We did all go out to dinner, though, before the prom. First, Mother gave Dad and me each a flower to wear. Then we went in two separate cars: Dad and me in one and my mother and younger brother in the other. After a nice dinner at one of the fanciest restaurants in town, Dad and I drove to the prom.

I don’t remember how the school gymnasium was decorated, but I do recall a swing in one corner where Dad and I sat while someone took our picture. Grandma displayed that photo in her music room for years.

I had a great time. One or two boys may have asked me to dance, but most of the time, I danced with Dad. He’d taught me how to dance when I was fifteen, so after three years, I’d gotten good at it.

Looking back though, I think Dad may have felt a little out of his element. There weren’t many people his age, and the music the band played wasn’t his style. After the garter ceremony, in which I removed the offending item from my stocking and placed it on his arm, he’d had enough. Now, I don’t blame him for almost chickening out, but I’m glad he kept his promise. It would have been my only opportunity to attend a senior prom.

What do you remember about your senior prom? Who was your date? Had you been dating this person long before you two went to the prom together? Did your date change his/her mind? What did you do?

In my new novel, The Red Dress, which is now in the hands of the publisher, DLD Books, my protagonist catches her date in the act with her best friend on Prom Night. So, which do you think is worse, that or having your date change his/her mind at the last minute?

 

My 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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

Thursday Book Feature: The Unwinding of the Miracle

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After

by Julie Yip-Williams

Copyright 2019

 

In 2013, Julie Yip-Williams, wife and mother of two, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. In her memoir, published posthumously, she details events during the five agonizing years leading to her death. She flashes back to her earlier life: being blinded by cataracts as an infant in Vietnam after the war, escaping with her family to the United States and settling in southern California, having most of her sight restored through surgery, growing up to become a lawyer, traveling all over the world, meeting and marrying her husband, and the birth of her children. In her last chapter, she encourages us to take advantage of the time we have. Her husband Josh wrote the epilog, and in the recorded version I downloaded, he reads it.

I admire this author’s courage in the face of adversity, and I’m not just talking about the cancer. She was born into a society that considers disability a weakness. Although she regained most of her vision, it was a struggle for her to learn to use what she had. When she was a kid, she was excluded from movies and other social events with her siblings and cousins because she wouldn’t be able to see anything and someone would have to take care of her. Despite all this, she went on to do remarkable things. I respect her decision to stop treatment and let the disease run its course, despite having a husband and two young children who loved and depended on her. Knowing the outcome, this is a hard book to read, but the story is well worth it.

 

My 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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

French Silk Pie (Fiction)

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.I glanced up from my dessert and saw him. He was sitting at the next table, also alone, also eating French silk pie. Our eyes met. He stood, picked up his plate, and carried it to my table. Sitting down across from me, he asked, “You like French silk pie too?”

“Yes,” I answered, surprised by his boldness.

“You come here often?”

“Yes,” I said.

We stared at each other for a moment. Then, I picked up my fork and started eating again. Being a happily married woman, the last thing I needed was to be distracted by another man. Couldn’t he see the wedding ring on my left hand?

Finally, he extended his hand. “I’m Jack Baker.”

With an inward sigh of resignation, I put down my fork and took his hand. “I’m Jill Tanner.”

“Jack and Jill, how about that? I was transferred here a couple of weeks ago. I work at the Veterans Administration Hospital.”

“My husband was at the VA for a few days after his stroke. We weren’t too impressed with his care. We thought he’d be better off in a nursing home.”

“Yeah, I don’t blame you. Our nursing department has been short-staffed. I’m the volunteer coordinator, and I’m trying to recruit more people to help, but there isn’t much they can do unless they’re certified. It would be nice to get people who could fill patients’ water pitchers and do other tasks that don’t require certification. I already have a woman who’s blind and plays the guitar and sings. Those old guys really like that.”
“Linda was one of the few things we liked about that place. She has such a sweet voice. She knows all those old songs the men like, and she’s so good with them. Fortunately, she also volunteers at Fernwood Manor, so my husband can still listen to her music.”

“How badly has he been effected by the stroke?”

I sighed. “He can’t use his left arm or leg, and his speech is somewhat affected. His mind is still pretty good, but he might have lost some short-term memory. The therapists at the nursing home have been great, but the neurologist says there’s no telling if or when he’ll walk again.”

Jack reached across the table and took my hand. “I’m sorry. How long ago did this happen?”

I dislodged my hand and picked up my fork again. “A few weeks ago,” I answered.

“You look awfully young. How old is your husband?”

“I’m forty-six, and my husband’s sixty-four.”

He stared at me in amazement. “You don’t look a day over twenty.”

“I know,” I said, and I smiled in spite of myself. “but when I’m sixty-six, it’ll be a blessing.”

“There’s quite an age difference between you and your husband.”

“Yeah, when Don’s mother saw a picture of me, she accused him of robbing the cradle.”

He laughed. “How did you two meet?”

“I met him at a writers’ conference. I write romances, and he writes science fiction mysteries. I don’t like mysteries of any kind, and he doesn’t care for romances, but somehow, we hit it off. We both like to write, and that’s what matters.”

He looked thoughtful. “Wait a minute. Your husband is Don Tanner?”

“Yes,” I said.

“I love his stuff! I bought a copy of his latest yesterday and started it last night. He just had a stroke?”

“I’m afraid so. Before it happened, he signed a contract for another book. I talked to his agent, and he said he would see if he could get an extension, but I don’t know…”

As the stress of the past few weeks settled over me, I found myself looking deep into his blue eyes. After a moment of silence, he said, “Maybe I could be his ghost writer.”

“Have you done any writing?”

“I’ve had a few stories and poems published, but with a forty-hour-a-week job, it’s hard to find the time. This could be a big break. I’ve read most of your husband’s books, and I know his style. If I could meet him and get some idea of the direction he wants to go with his next book, I could write it for him.”

“I’m not sure how the ghost writing business works. Besides, Don has always been very independent. I’m not sure he’d like the idea of someone else writing his work, even though he may not be able to write it himself.”

“Are you finished here?” asked the waitress, as she started to remove our plates.

“Yes,” I answered, anxious to end this conversation. “Could you please bring us our checks?”

“Actually, we’re both on one check,” he said.

The waitress hurried away before I could protest. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Yes I do. I’m one of Don Tanner’s biggest fans. I’m not going to let a stroke interfere with his career. I’ve made up my mind. I want to help him.”

The waitress returned, and after she left with his credit card, he said, “Why don’t you come over to my place, and we’ll talk about it some more? We could even go online and do some research on ghost writing.”

I looked at my watch. “It’s late. I really should see Don. He goes to sleep early, and I like to talk to him while he’s awake.”

“I understand, but this is important. If we could work something out tonight, we could both see Don tomorrow, and I could give him a proposal.”

The waitress appeared. As Jack signed the slip, I considered making a run for it, but I happened to glance into his eyes. He looked so sincere. “Okay,” I said with a sigh. “I’ll follow you to your place.”

He lived in a red brick building with four apartments, two upstairs and two on the ground floor. His was on the second floor and had a balcony plus a living room, two bedrooms, and a kitchen. After giving me the grand tour, he asked, “Can I get you a drink?”

“No thanks,” I answered. I wandered into one of the bedrooms which had been converted into an office. The shelves were lined with books, and I was reassured to see some of Don’s titles. I sat in an armchair next to Jack’s computer, hoping he would take the hint when he appeared with his drink.

My heart sank when he said, “It’s more comfortable in the living room.”

“I thought you wanted to research ghost writers.”

“We can do that later,” he said, as he approached me, extended his hand, and pulled me to my feet. “Come on. The night is still young.”

With trepidation, I allowed him to guide me into the living room where we sat side by side on the couch. We talked about this and that, as he drank glass after glass from a bottle of Scotch on a nearby coffee table. I tried several times to steer the conversation in the direction of our project and suggested we get started on the research, but he kept putting me off.

After the third drink, he set the glass down and put his arm around me. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I thought. “Excuse me, but I’m a happily married woman,” I said, trying to pull away.

He tightened his arm around me. ”I find that hard to believe. Your husband is partially paralyzed. He may never be able to walk, let alone write, and he’ll never be able to make love to you like I can.” He pulled me into an embrace.

With my free hand, I slapped him hard on the cheek. Startled, he released me, and I jumped to my feet. “You bastard! My husband may never be able to walk or write or have sex, but I still love him, and he loves me, and that’s all that matters.” I snatched my purse from a nearby chair and hurried through the kitchen and out the back door, slamming it behind me.

My legs were shaking, as I descended the steep wooden staircase to the parking lot. I expected to hear the door open and his running footsteps behind me, but the only sound was the faint chirping of crickets. When I reached the car, I climbed in and locked all doors and windows. I took several deep breaths. When I felt calm, I started the engine and glanced at my watch. It was late, but I had to see Don.

When I reached the nursing home, I was surprised to find the main entrance still unlocked. “Hi Jill, you’re a little late, aren’t you?” said Beverley, Don’s nurse, as I passed the desk.

“Yes, I got held up.”

“I’m sure Don’s still awake. In fact, Bernadette might still be with him, although I doubt it.”

I’d forgotten about Bernadette, Don’s speech therapist, but would she be here this late? Because she worked somewhere else during the day, she came early in the evening to work with Don and other residents. In her mid-twenties with long blonde hair and blue eyes, she was also a fan of Don’s books.

The door to his room was closed. Thinking Bernadette was gone and Don was asleep, I inched it open and stepped into the darkness, stopping short at the sounds of kissing and voices. “Oh Don, even though you only have one good arm and leg, you’re such a lover,” said Bernadette.

“Ummm, you’re so soft, so silky, so delicious, my French silk pie,” said Don in the same seductive voice he’d used with me. “If I could write with the same part of me I use for loving, my troubles would be over.”

“Don’t think about that now. Just love me some more,” said Bernadette, and I heard more kissing. In shock, I cried out and flung the door open wide, flooding the room with light from the hall that illuminated the naked bodies on the bed.

***

The above story was published in this year’s spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders, an online journal featuring work by authors with disabilities. It won an honorable mention in the magazine’s fiction contest. It also appeared last year on Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

 

My 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

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.