Hello, my name is Debbie, or at least that’s the name Abbie gave me because when my hand is squeezed, I sing “You Light Up my Life,” a song made popular a long time ago by a woman with the same name as mine. I guess you could say I’m a doll, although I’m made from the same material they use for stuffed animals. I’m soft and plush. Wearing a red dress and hat with a bow, I’ve been sitting on the buffet in Abbie’s living room for over five years.
I was a Valentine present for Abbie’s husband Bill who was in a wheelchair. Every night before they went to bed, Abbie squeezed my hand, and I sang my song while they embraced and kissed each other good night. Then she wheeled him into the bedroom, and I didn’t see him again until morning.
As I understand it, when Bill proposed to Abbie, he was on his feet. Actually, he wrote her a letter in Braille, asking her to marry him so he must have been on his butt at the time, but he didn’t need the wheelchair. By the way, he and Abbie weren’t living in the same town before they were married.
A month after he proposed, he sent Abbie another doll she calls Annie because when her hand is squeezed, she sings a song John Denver wrote for his wife who has the same name. Annie sits across the room on top of the piano. Although she’s made from the same material as me, she doesn’t appear to have anything on except a light purple bow around her neck and a hat with another bow the same color.
To make a long story short, Bill and Abbie were married six months after Bill sent her that proposal letter. They would have had a happily-ever-after life except for Bill’s strokes. They made the best of it together for six long years, and I witnessed most of their trials and tribulations. Now, Abbie wants me to tell her story of the past year. I’m not the writer she is, but I’ll do my best.
Last year, Abbie spent Christmas with her brother Andy and his family in Florida, AGAIN, leaving me, Annie, and other stuffed dolls and animals scattered around the house to fend for ourselves. We expected her back on December 30th midafternoon, but she didn’t come stumbling in until three o’clock the next morning. Apparently, she missed her connecting flight in Denver and had to wait seven hours for the next one. Then because of the extreme cold, the flight was delayed three hours and didn’t get off the ground until almost eleven, arriving in Gillette close to one in the morning.
Also, while Abbie was in Florida, she got sick AGAIN, but at least she got to open presents with the family downstairs Christmas morning and didn’t start throwing up until after dinner. The day after she returned home, I overheard her telling Andy on the phone that this year, she was going to try an experiment. She would stay home for Christmas, and if she got sick, that would mean that Christmas was making her sick and not Florida.
Since then, it’s been a pretty quiet year for Abbie. Snow is on the ground so she probably won’t be walking anywhere till spring which is too bad since she just got a brand new cane. Oh well, that’s life, as stated in one of her poems. Okay, this is a Christmas letter, not a Garrison Keillor monologue so Abbie tells me. Sorry about that.
In January, Abbie started work on her memoir that she began writing a few years ago after Bill died. It’s called My Ideal Partner, and it’s about how she met and married Bill and cared for him after he had his two strokes. She finally finished the thing in August and is in the editing process. She hopes to work with a couple in Denver who help authors self-publish their work on CreateSpace, Amazon, and Smashwords. What kind of a name is Smashwords, anyway? Is it really possible to smash a word? Okay, okay, I gotcha. Just the facts, Ma’am.
In May, Abbie went to a women’s writing retreat where she hoped to spend two days working on her memoir. As it turned out, she didn’t get any more work done than she would have if she’d stayed home. They spent most of the time writing from prompts, doing yoga, and eating a vegetarian spa diet. Yuck! Actually, they did have ice cream sundaes so it wasn’t all vegetarian, and Abbie brought home about half a gallon of Neapolitan ice cream that would have been thrown out otherwise. Nevertheless, the first thing she did when she got home, after consuming a Dr. Pepper while checking email and venting her frustrations through a series of loud, rambunctious belches, was to toss a steak on the grill.
In April and June, Abbie went to her usual writers’ conferences she attends every year. This year, she was elected to the Wyoming Writers board of directors. In September, she was elected secretary of Behind Our Eyes for the third time. If you ask me, she’s a glutton for punishment. Okay, onward and upward.
Earlier this month, Abbie gave a poetry reading at a meeting of Akcita Win, a women’s organization that does community service projects and offers scholarships every year. She learned that her grandmother formed the organization years ago so feels compelled to join them, but she’s not that much of a glutton for punishment.
Anyway, they really enjoyed her program where she sang a few songs a Capella which she incorporated into her poems. They’d better have liked it. I had to listen to her practice that routine for three days. Now, she’s gearing up for more performances with her guitar at nursing homes, an assisted living facility, an adult day care program, and maybe even the senior center. I have to listen to that now for God knows how long. Oh, I suppose I should also mention her gigs with Just Harmony. She thinks she’s a better singer than I am. Well, if we ever end up on American Idol, we’ll see what happens.
That’s the news from Sheridan, Abbie’s home town, where the men are… All right, all right, never mind. You get the picture. Happy holidays.
For the past hour, I had to listen to Abbie record another holiday song, and you can click below to hear it. She’s been using a new device called a BrailleSense U2 to make the recording, and she’s had to do several takes. Oh well, I guess that’s what it’s like in a recording studio so if I want to make it to the big time, I’d better put on my big girl pants and deal with it.
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
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Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.
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