To Dylan at Twenty-One

Greetings again from sunny Florida, where we celebrated my nephew’s twenty-first birthday yesterday. Below is a poem I wrote for this occasion. Happy birthday, Dylan.

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TO MY NEPHEW AT TWENTY-One

Born on St. Patrick’s Day,
named after Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas,
you were Grandma Gummy’s little dilly bar.
During your first twelve months of life,
I held your eight-pound body,
sang “Three Little Ducks,”

Then you were two.
Grandpa Grumpy’s truck fascinated you.
Being told “no” did not.
At four, you played soccer,
wanted to be big–Now you are.

Life wasn’t always kind
but now, the possibilities are endless.
With your own band,
you could create a record label,
write and record hundreds of songs,
give thousands of performances across the country,
or you could be a teacher like your dad
or a writer like me.
You could inspire millions.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Let’s Talk

Here are twenty-five fun questions I picked up from blogger Amaan Khan. I triple dog dare you to answer these, either on your own blog or in the comments field. My answers are below.

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Q1: Do you have any pets?

A: No, although I like cats and dogs, after being my late husband Bill’s caregiver for six years, I’m still not ready to care for another living thing, even though it’s been five years since he died.

Q2: Name three things that are close to you.

A: My computer, my Braille tablet, which I’m using as a display at the moment, and my closed-circuit television reading system.
Q3: What’s the weather like right now”

A: Here in Sheridan, Wyoming, it’s sunny with a blue sky and 47 degrees Fahrenheit. The multitude of snow we’ve accumulated in the past couple of months is melting.

Q4: Do you drive? If so, have you crashed?

A: No, I don’t drive because of my visual impairment. If I did, I would crash.

Q5: What time did you wake up this morning?

A: About six thirty.

Q6: When was the last time you showered?

A: This morning.

Q7: Do you participate in any sports?

A: No, for the same reason I don’t drive, but I work out regularly.

Q8: What does your last text message say?

A: That I don’t remember since I haven’t received a text message in a couple of days.

Q9: What is your ring tone?

A: It’s simply called “harp.” It’s one of about twenty that were already on my phone when I got it.

Q10: Have you ever been out of your country or traveled by plane?

A: Yes, I traveled to Mexico with my father when I was twelve. We were living in Tucson, Arizona, at the time and studying Spanish and thought it would be fun to go there and practice what we’d learned. I came home with a bad case of Montezuma’s revenge. I’ve also made many trips by plane.

Q11: Do you like sushi?

A: I’ve never had it, but I’m sure I wouldn’t like it. It sounds disgusting.

Q12: Do you have a desktop or a laptop?

A: I have a desktop computer, but I also use a braille tablet.

Q13: How old will you be turning on your next birthday?

A: I’ll be fifty-seven.

Q14: Do you wear glasses or contacts?

A: No, they don’t do anything to correct my limited vision.

Q15: What is your favorite pizza topping?

A: I like everything on a pizza. My late husband Bill, on the other hand, only liked meat and mushrooms and a little cheese. WhenEver we ordered a pizza, we always got half and half. Because of my limited vision, after I served each of us a slice, Bill often took a bite and said, “Oooh, this is your half.”

Q16: Flight or invisibility?

A: I’m not sure I’m a fan of either.

Q17: Which is your favorite book of all time?

A: I don’t have any favorite books.

Q18: Are you married?

A: Not anymore. I was married in 2005. Three months later, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. After six months of recuperation in a nursing home, I cared for him for six years until he passed in 2012. You can learn more about that by reading My Ideal Partner.
Q19: What is your favorite drink?

A: Dr. Pepper.

Q20: What was your favorite subject in school?

A: English.

Q21: What’s your favorite movie?

A: The Wizard of Oz.

Q22: How do I bring you to your knees?

A: Chocolate ice cream.

Q23: What is your favorite color?

A: Blue.

Q24: Did you graduate from high school?

A: Yes, in 1980.

Q25: What is the last thing you bought?

A: An iGoku Bluetooth speaker.

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Now, you know almost everything there is to know about me. As I said before, I encourage you to answer any or all of these questions, either in the comments field or on your own blog. If you answer the questions on your blog, please include a link to this post. I look forward to reading your answers.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Saturday Song: B.J. Thomas: Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head

This is the song I mentioned in last Tuesday’s post. It was what my late husband sang to me when he discovered a leak in our roof years ago. You can learn more about that by reading My Ideal Partner.

Years before that, when I was in the second grade, I sang this song during a school talent show while the music teacher accompanied me on piano. I wore a long dress and held an umbrella. Enjoy this blast from the past, and have a great Saturday.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Snowdrops Keep Falling on My Head

One night last week, I found a roof leak in the master bedroom, apparently due to a build-up of snow on the roof. The spot was located above the head of the bed. Fortunately, I wasn’t sleeping at the time, or I might have dreamed of being the victim of the Chinese water torture method.

After discovering the leak, I was able to reach the roofer I used last year. The next morning, I called the insurance company. Later, two guys from the construction company came and shoveled snow of the roof. I asked them to have their boss give me a written estimate if repairs are needed. They may not be able to do anything until spring, so will see what happens.

This reminded me of a similar incident that happened while my late husband Bill was still alive. As you’ll note in the following excerpt from My Ideal Partner, a memoir in which I describe how I cared for Bill after he suffered two strokes, we discovered a leak in almost the same spot on a rainy May morning.

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One rainy May morning, as Bill sat on the side of the bed, clutching the pole, and I maneuvered the wheelchair in place so I could transfer him, he intoned, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

Not knowing any more words to that BJ Thomas standard, I hummed a few more bars.

“I’m serious,” he said. “I think the roof is leaking. It’s dripping on my head.”

I placed my hand on top of his head, and to my horror, I felt a drop a moment later. My heart racing, I said, “What do I do?”
“Put me in the chair. Then call John.” (John was our landlord.

As I transferred him to the wheelchair, my mind was reeling. “You’ll probably have to go to Eventide (nursing home) until we can get the roof fixed.”

“No, a roofer can put a tarp over the place where the roof is leaking until they can fix it.”

I was relieved and hopeful as I dialed John’s number. He promised to call someone right away. About twenty minutes later, as Bill predicted, a roofer arrived, and the leak was temporarily stopped.

“Tell Suzanne at the bank,” Bill said. “She can add the cost of repairing the roof to the loan.” When I called her, she said she would need an estimate. I gave her the name of the roofer John called.

We needed a new roof, but Suzanne said adding that cost wouldn’t be a problem. The rain eventually let up, and our days became warm and sunny with no worries about the roof.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Saturday Song: Paul Simon: Kodachrome

My younger brother was the photographer in the family, so he might have been able to better relate to this song if he were my age when it was popular. However, my mother occasionally threatened to confiscate certain possessions of mine, so that’s why this song strikes a chord. Enjoy, and have a great day.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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The Parking Lot Slog

Thanks to Alice Massa for inspiring this. In her post, she shares her winter travel adventures with her guide dog and explains why her accomplishments should have earned her an Olympic medal. I don’t have a guide dog, but here’s something I did last week that should have earned me an Olympic medal.

Last Thursday, a friend, who uses a walker, picked me up, and we drove to a restaurant downtown where we planned to meet others for our monthly friendship club luncheon. There were no empty parking spaces close to the restaurant, so we ended up in a lot about half a block away. Most of the week had been cold, with temperatures only in the teens most of the time, dropping below zero at night. On this particular day though, it was up to thirty degrees, which meant everything was turning to slush, including the parking lot.

The only thing to do was slog through the slush. Because of fear of falling at our age, my friend and I, clinging to her walker for dear life, made our way through the slush like two little old ladies out for an afternoon walk. We somehow managed to get to the street and across it to the sidewalk, which was clear, without falling flat on our backs. Now that should have earned us a gold medal.

Can you think of any winter adventures you survived that should have earned you an Olympic medal? I hope you’re staying warm and upright through these frigid, treacherous winter months. Take heart. Spring is just around the corner.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Saturday Song: Unchained Melody

I often sang this song to my late husband Bill. After his strokes, whenever I hit the high note close to the end, he was always moved to tears. I hope my rendition of this song, as I sang it to Bill many times, moves you, too.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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