The Girl with the Flaxen Hair #TuesdayTidbit #Poetry #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

I’m posting the following poem in response to Stevie Turner’s Friday Write feature. You can click here to participate.

This poem was published in Mingled Voices 6, an annual poetry anthology produced by Proverse Poetry of Hong Kong. I’m planning to review this book here Friday. So, please stay tuned. You can click on the poem’s title to hear me read it. Below the poem, you’ll find a back story and YouTube video of the classical piece referenced. Enjoy!

 

THE GIRL WITH THE FLAXEN HAIR

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2021.

 

With fine, golden curls gleaming in summer sunlight,
gazing eyes, long lashes,
cherry lips so tempting to kiss,
she stands on grass, silent.

As my father struggles to play, on the piano,
the flowing melody and harmony
that Debussy so beautifully created to depict her,
the girl with flaxen hair
dies a slow, torturous death,
every wrong note, every pause
a stab to her heart,
until she crumples to the soft grass.

Oblivious, Dad continues
to plod through the piece,
note and chord by painstaking note and chord
until he brings it to a discordant conclusion.

 

BACK STORY

 

My father enjoyed playing the piano when I was growing up. He had no formal training but could read music, and I think he wanted to be like his brothers, who played the piano and guitar, and his father, who played the saxophone. My father played jazz standards pretty well after he practiced them. But he never fully mastered the one classical piece he took an interest in playing, Debussy’s “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.”

I was inspired to write my poem, “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” after reading a similar poem by a fellow critique group participant about how his father played Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” I found, on Wikipedia, the original poem on which “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair” was based. I incorporated concepts from that poem to explain how my poor, dear father, may he rest in peace, inadvertently destroyed this beautiful creature with his attempt to play Debussy’s work.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Oh When I Die #TuesdayTidbit #Jottings #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

 

My late husband Bill loved organizing things. He planned every little detail of our wedding, including who would bring us a plate of food at the reception. Naturally, a few years after he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side, he decided to plan and pay for his own funeral.

We visited one funeral home and weren’t impressed. A representative from another came to our home. Right away, we liked him and what he had to offer.

At the time, we were living in Sheridan, Wyoming, where I still reside today. Bill wanted to be buried with his family in Fowler, Colorado, about 500 miles away. We were assured that when the time came, that could be arranged.

It felt strange, planning a funeral for someone who was still alive. But when Bill’s time came, I was glad everything was arranged in advance. He wanted only a graveside service, which turned out to be lovely, despite the November wind. Many people attended, including my dad, two uncles, an aunt, and cousins. Several of Bill’s friends shared their memories of him. As he requested, I played my guitar and sang “Stormy Weather.” You can read more about this in My Ideal Partner.

I just turned sixty last summer. I should start thinking about planning my own funeral. It would make things easier for my family like Bill’s making and paying for his arrangements did for me. But I have so many questions.

My brother once told me that when people die, they simply cease to exist. So, what is it like not to exist? We talk about pets crossing a rainbow bridge when they die. Why can’t humans do the same thing like in this song by Abba?

Then again, what if, when you die, you’re still aware of what’s going on around you, even though you can’t move or talk. If this is the case, cremation is definitely out for me, since I’ve always been fearful, yet respectful of fire. Lying underground would be boring but not painful. Yet, burial is more expensive than cremation.

I know one thing for sure. I want to sing for my own funeral. When I’m ready to make arrangements, I’ll provide the funeral home with one or two recordings of me singing songs with piano or guitar accompaniment that can be played during the service. I know this sounds vain, but when I die, I want a celebration of life, where people can hear me sing one last time and share memories.

How about you? Have you thought about what you want done when your time comes? Thanks to Morpethroad for inspiring this post.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

Books

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A Novel About Loss #FridayFunReads #Inspiration #BookReviews

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Optimist’s Daughter

by Eudora Welty

 

What Amazon Says

 

This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel tells the story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a young woman who has left the South and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Along in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents.

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

It should also be said that Laurel is a widow, having lost her husband, I’m assuming, during World War II. Because I lost my own husband and father, I can relate to her. Her stepmother, the New Orleans doctor, and the people in the small Mississippi town where Laurel and her stepmother return help create this short, heart-wrenching tale of loss. However, preferring stories with a more positive ending, I found this one’s conclusion disappointing. But I’m not sorry I read the book.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

An Impoverished Little Princess #OpenBookBlogHop #WritingPrompts #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Do you remember the first book that made you cry? Or maybe the last one?”

***

I don’t remember the last book that made me cry, but A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett was a tear-jerker in the middle when Sara’s father dies, leaving her penniless, and she’s compelled to earn her keep at the seminary where her father sent her years earlier. I was in high school at the time, and it was so heart-wrenching that I couldn’t finish the book.

A year or so later when I was in college, I saw the movie, with Shirley Temple. It also made me cry, but they were tears of joy because the movie had a happy ending. So, I decided to try the book again to see if the ending would be the same. It wasn’t quite, but it was still a happy ending, and that’s what I like in a book and movie.

***

How about you? Do you remember the first or last book that made you cry? Please tell me about it in the comment field or click here to participate in this week’s hop and read what other bloggers have to say.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Your Last Day #Fiction #Tuesday Tidbit

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

“When you go to sleep tonight, you’ll die,” the doctor says.

“But I feel fine,” you say.

“Your test results indicate a rare form of cancer that acts like a time bomb. When you go to bed and close your eyes, the bomb will explode.”

“Oh, my God! Isn’t there anything you can do?”

“I’m afraid not. I suggest you get your affairs in order. I know this doesn’t give you much time. I’m sorry.”

You walk out of the office in a daze. You blink in the bright sunlight and stumble towards your car, shaking your head in disbelief. When you manage to drive home, he’s in the living room, stretched out in his recliner, reading a newspaper. “Surprise!” he says, as he leaps out of his chair and flings the newspaper aside.

“What are you doing home so early?” you ask.

“I was ahead of schedule for once. So, I decided to take the rest of the afternoon off.”

You fling yourself into his outstretched arms, and you’re locked in a long, ardent embrace. When you come up for air, neither of you says a word. Arm in arm, you make a beeline for the bedroom.

After a couple of hours of the most passionate love -making you’ve experienced in years, you snuggle against him and feel the reassuring closeness of his body. You doze, but remembering the doctor’s words, you jerk yourself awake. “What’s wrong, honey?” he asks.

“Oh, nothing,” you say. “I was just thinking how fun it might be to go out to Dino’s tonight. Their shrimp fettuccini is just to die for.”

“Actually, I was hoping you would cook something here,” he says. “I love your meatloaf, and for once, I won’t be late for dinner.”

You sigh. The last thing you want to do on your last night on Earth is cook meatloaf.

“But if you really want to go out, I guess that would be okay.”

Although the restaurant is crowded, you manage to get a cozy corner table for two. You order fettuccini, and he orders lasagna. You order salad, and he orders clam chowder and a bottle of red wine for the two of you. You don’t say much, as you savor your favorite meal for the last time. He keeps up a running commentary on work and other topics.

For dessert, you both decide on spumoni ice cream. As you enjoy this and a cup of strong coffee, you look around the room at couples, threesomes, foursomes, and larger groups of people, all laughing, chatting, and eating. Will Heaven be like this? Is there even a Heaven?

“How about renting a movie?” he asks, as you leave the restaurant.

“That’s a great idea! How about ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo?’  I’ve always loved that show.”

“Actually, I was thinking of ‘Top Gun.’”

You sigh. The last thing you want to do on your last night on Earth is watch a war movie.

“But if you really want to watch ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo,’ I guess that would be okay.”

At home, you snuggle on the couch. While Mia Farrell is becoming infatuated with Woody Allen, the two of you are becoming re-infatuated with each other. Afterwards, you head back to the bedroom for another round of passionate love -making.

When that’s over, you snuggle against him. “Hold me,” you say, gripped by a sudden fear of the unknown. He does, and you are enveloped with a sense of peace.

You open your eyes and see bright sunlight. You sit up and look around. To the right and behind you are the windows. Your night stands, chests of drawers, and closet are where they’ve always been. Your clothes are scattered on the floor where you dropped them the night before. He is lying next to you, still asleep. You are filled with a sense of relief.

He wakes up and looks at his watch. “Honey, why are you getting up so early on a Saturday morning?” he asks.

“Who says I’m getting up?” you say, as you cuddle next to him and nibble his ear. “I’m not going anywhere.”

***

The above short story was inspired by a poetry prompt to write about your last day on Earth. It appears in the current issue of Magnets and Ladders, where it won an honorable mention in the magazine’s contest.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image 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.

***

Books

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