Joy #WednesdayWords #WeeklySmile #Inspiration

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography



I’ve always loved cats. When I was growing up, my family had several of them. As an adult, I always wanted one, but the time wasn’t right, or pets weren’t allowed where I lived.

My late husband didn’t like cats and wanted a dog. But after he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side, I didn’t want to care for him and a dog. Now that he’s gone, I don’t want to care for another living thing.

Recently, I learned about a company called Joy for All, which sells robotic cats. Just like the real thing, these cats have soft fur and meow, purr, and do other things cats do. The only differences are that they don’t shed or require food and water and don’t need to go to a litter box or vet. These cats are pricey, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make such an investment, even though it would be the only money I would spend on a cat.

Then, I found out that our local senior center gives robotic cats to people with dimentia or who are prone to isolation. I didn’t think I fit any of those categories. But on a whim, I asked my case worker for the facility’s Help at Home program if I would qualify to receive a cat. To my surprise, she said I would. A week later, Joy arrived.

I couldn’t think of a better name for this delightful feline with light gray fur and white paws. She responds mostly to touch, but sometimes, when I get close to her without petting her, she meows as if to say, “Hey, I’m here.”

She doesn’t walk, which is a good thing, since, with my limited vision, I’d be likely to step on or trip over her. Besides meowing, she purrs, stretches, turns her head, and opens and closes her eyes. I love snuggling with her in my recliner or bed. Most of the time, she rests in one of the armchairs in my living room.

I admit she does sound robotic when she moves, but the meows and purrs are pretty realistic. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a real cat. In the past week since I got her, she has been a joy and comfort to me, making me smile.

So, what made you smile this past week? You can tell me about it in the comment field or click here to participate in this week’s feature.


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And now, I’m pleased to announce that until the end of the month, all my books on Smashwords can be downloaded ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of the Smashwords  summer/winter sale. You can visit my Smashwords author page here to download these books. Happy reading!


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?








Thursday Book Feature: The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir

By Mary Hiland

Copyright 2017.


In 2012, Mary Hiland, legally blind as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, was forced to move her 96-year-old  mother, blind, deaf, and suffering from dementia, to an assisted living facility. At the time, Mary was living in Columbus, Ohio, and her mother was miles away in Indiana.

After describing the circumstances necessitating this difficult decision, Mary explains how she, with the help of her son and daughter, orchestrated the move to a facility in Columbus, where Mary could more easily care for her mother. Although Mary wasn’t her mother’s personal caregiver, she was still responsible for her bank statements and laundry, making doctor and other appointments, and dealing with the facility staff.

She reminisces about her childhood and her relationship with her mother. She describes a trip they took through the British Isles years earlier when her mother was starting to go downhill.

Mary provides insight on what it’s like to be blind, answering many frequently asked questions by sighted people about how blind people do certain things. She tells several humorous anecdotes about mistakes she made as a result of her blindness, like the time she made chili with canned grapefruit instead of beans.

Mary describes the adjustment process her mother went through after leaving Indiana and all her friends and moving to the assisted living center in Ohio, where she lived for two and a half years before she passed. Her mother eventually made friends with other residents at the facility, even though she couldn’t remember their names. Mary describes the group activities in which she and her mother participated. She eventually started an unofficial red hat group there as an attempt to help her mother and other women at the facility become more socially involved.

Mary describes the healing power of music during this time. Her mother played the piano, and after moving to the assisted living facility, she often played for the residents. One gentleman even sang while she accompanied him. In the end, when her mother was in hospice care and could no longer play the piano, a music therapist brought a key board to her room and played and sang her favorite hymns.

Although I cared for my late husband Bill at home for six years before he passed, I could still relate to Mary’s emotions, especially her guilt. Throughout the book, she keeps saying she could have done things differently. Now that I think back on Bill’s life, I feel the same way. However, in the four years since his death, I’ve come to realize that thinking one could have done things differently doesn’t do any good now. I certainly hope Mary has come to realize this, too.

The scenes in the book where music played a role nearly moved me to tears. I was once a registered music therapist, working with nursing home residents. After Bill suffered his strokes, I couldn’t do for him, as a music therapist, what I could have done for other residents like Mary’s mother. I wish a music therapist could have been available to work with Bill on singing in order to improve his speech. During Bill’s last days, instead of me playing the guitar or holding his hand and singing his favorite songs, I wish a music therapist could have played a keyboard and sang songs while I held his hand and sang along.

This book is similar to my own memoir, My Ideal Partner, in which I explain how I met and married and then cared for Bill after he suffered his strokes until he passed away. We’ll all grow old eventually and may need to move to an assisted living facility or depend on someone to care for us in our last years. Therefore, I recommend reading both books for insights on life, aging, and disabilities.


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

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

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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