Golden Ring #Monday Musical Memories

Two months after my late husband Bill sent me a braille letter, asking me to marry him, he traveled from his home in Fowler, Colorado, to my home in Sheridan, Wyoming, to propose officially during a dinner with family and friends we’d pre-arranged. He brought a gold ring. Fortunately, I had the foresight to try it on beforehand because it was too small.

We took it to a local jewelry store, hoping they could re-size it in time for the dinner. But they had to send it away for that, and it would be a few weeks before I would have it back. Luckily, Bill had also brought a necklace. As he placed it around my neck in front of all those near and dear to me, he said, in jest, “If you say no, I’ll choke you with this.” Everyone laughed, including me. By that time, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life loving him, so it was a no-brainer.

When the newly re-sized ring was returned to me, I wore it all the time, taking it off only to sleep, shower, wash dishes, and exercise in the YMCA’s swimming pool. On our wedding day, Bill had another ring. Afterward, we had the two combined, and I wore that ring all through our marriage until he passed seven years later. Today, it still lies in a ring holder on my bureau, untouched for years. You can read our story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

At least my ring has a happier story than the one in the song I’m featuring today. That ring was purchased in a pawn shop, and the couple was married that same afternoon. Later, when the woman fell out of love with her husband, the ring was cast aside and no doubt ended up back in that pawn shop.

I hope you enjoy this live performance by George Jones and Tammy Wynette. It took place two years after their divorce. I don’t know if this song is their story, but it’s definitely a poignant one.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover 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.

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Song Lyric Sunday: I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen

Image contains: me, smiling.This blog feature was created by Helen Vahdati. This week’s theme is “take/taking.” My brother Andy’s first wife’s name was Kathleen. I sang this song at their wedding, as she came down the aisle. You can click on the title to hear me sing the song the way I sang it over twenty years ago. As far as I know, no one is taking Kathleen home again now. Andy has a new wife and is happy.

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I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen

 

Lyrics Courtesy of Google

 

I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen

Across the ocean wild and wide

To where your heart has ever been

Since first you were my Bonnie bride.

The roses all have left your cheek.

I’ve watched them fade away and die

Your voice is sad when e’er you speak

And tears bedim your loving eyes.

Oh! I will take you back, Kathleen

To where your heart will feel no pain

And when the fields are fresh and green

I’ll take you to your home again!

 

Songwriters: James Carroll / Sean Gilroy / Myles Mooney / Trevor Peak / Paul Ryan

I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust

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

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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Forever is Never Too Long


Thanks to Rhonda Partain for inspiring this. I believe that if you truly love someone, forever is never too long.

Most marriages aren’t fraught with the turmoil that ours was. When my late husband Bill and I were married in the fall of 2005, I was in my forties, and he was nineteen years my senior. Three months after our wedding, Bill suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side. A year later, he suffered another stroke, just as we were thinking maybe he’d get back on his feet again. That never happened.

For six years, I cared for him at home. With the use of only one arm and leg, he could do little for himself. Nevertheless, I loved him, and it never crossed my mind to leave him and find another. I would have cared for him for another twenty years, but in the fall of 2012, he started to decline, and it became difficult for me to lift him. I had to move him to a nursing home where he died a month later. You can read more about this in My Ideal Partner.

Some young people nowadays look on marriage as if they were buying a car. They move in together so they can test-drive the relationship. I don’t have a problem with this, but years after they’ve decided they’re right for each other, they toss the marriage aside like an old car that is no longer of use to them. Not only is this heartbreaking for the parties involved, but it’s also not fair to any children they may have had during that time. These children didn’t choose to be born and deserve a stable family environment.

If a spouse is abusive or unfaithful, that’s one thing, but simply falling out of love with your significant other should never happen. If you’re considering marriage, be sure. Be very sure you two are compatible and that you really want to spend the rest of your lives together. A marriage isn’t a car. You can’t trade it in for another model when you get tired of it. If you truly love the one you want to marry, forever will never be too long.

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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
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Thursday Book Feature: The Mistletoe Secret

The Mistletoe Secret

by Richard Paul Evans

Copyright 2016.

Eleven months after Alex’s wife leaves him for another man, he’s lonely but won’t admit it. His friends and co-workers encourage him to try an online dating service, which proves fruitless. Then, he discovers a blog written by a woman who calls herself LBH. There’s no profile, no contact information, no way to identify her. Alex feels compelled to find her. He discovers clues in the woman’s posts, and his search eventually takes him to Midway, Utah.

I was drawn to this book’s title because my late husband Bill once invited me to kiss him under the mistletoe in his home in Fowler, Colorado. Halfway through the book though, I wondered how I could have gotten into such a story. It might have been better without the prologue, in which the mysterious blogger’s identity is revealed, but the idea of a man traveling across the country in search of an unknown woman is ridiculous.

Alex turns out to be a flake. The author may have made him that way to interject some humor, but I didn’t find it a bit funny, especially as it pertained to his relationship with LBH. The ending, with its shocking revelation, gave me pause but didn’t completely change my mind.

I spent almost an entire Sunday reading this book because it was recommended as a good holiday read. To me, it was a waste of time. However, if you are young and believe in the magic of holiday romance, this book may be for you.

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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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Review: Elizabeth the First Wife

Abbie-1

Elizabeth the First Wife

By Lian Dolan

Copyright 2013.

 

Elizabeth is a professor at a community college in Pasadena, California. Ten years earlier, she divorced her movie-actor husband, and she’s content with her life, although her family encourages her to be more ambitious. Then her ex, out of the blue, makes an appearance in her classroom, much to her students’ delight, and asks her to work with him on a summer theater production of Shakespeare’s A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream in Ashland, Oregon.

A cast of such characters as Elizabeth’s meddling mother, her Nobel-Prize-winning physicist father, an Australian film director with weird ideas about how A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream should be staged, and a Congressional Chief of Staff make this a comical, heartwarming tale. There’s also a political controversy, but as Shakespeare once said, “All’s well that ends well.” The book includes a Q & A with the author and book club discussion questions.

I was drawn to this book because of my family’s love of theater. When I was born, my parents were living in New York City, and I believe they hoped to make it to Broadway, but when I came along, I guess they decided to make more realistic career choices. My brother and I acted in high school and college plays and participated on speech teams but also chose other occupations. My brother’s a physicist, like Elizabeth’s father, but hasn’t won a Nobel Prize yet.

At the beginning of each chapter of the book, the author inserts humorous commentary on Shakespeare and relationships in the form of excerpts from a book Elizabeth is writing. Although these are cute, I found them distracting at times, especially when the previous chapter ended on a cliffhanger. However, I slogged through them because the story intrigued me, and I wanted to know how it turned out. If you like humor and romance, you’ll enjoy this book, even if you’re not into Shakespeare.

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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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Review: A Girl’s Guide to Moving On

A Girl’s Guide to Moving On

By Debbie Macomber

Copyright 2016.

 

Leanne and her daughter-in-law, Nichole, divorce their cheating husbands and move from a suburb to separate apartments in downtown Portland, Oregon. Both ex-husbands try to convince their wives to return to them, but Nichole and Leanne have had it. Nichole meets Rocco, a tow-truck driver, who pulls her car out of a ditch. Leanne meets Nicholai, a Ukrainian student in an English class she teaches at the community center. Things heat up when Leanne’s ex-husband is diagnosed with terminal cancer and Nichole’s ex-husband threatens to file for full custody of their three-year-old son, claiming that Rocco is a negative influence.

This is another of many books I’ve enjoyed from Audible. The two narrators who read alternating chapters from Leanne’s and Nichole’s points of view do an excellent job. Debbie Macomber’s reading of her introductory letter at the beginning of the book adds a nice touch.

My favorite scene was at the beginning of the book when Nichole, after finding out that her ex-husband has finally decided to sign the divorce papers, backs her car into a ditch, and Rocco, the tow-truck driver with whom she falls in love, eventually comes to her rescue. The most memorable character, I think, is Nichole’s three-year-old son, Owen. His resilience in the face of his parents’ divorce is inspiring, and his interest in tow-trucks after meeting Rocco is amusing. This book delivers a powerful, yet uplifting message about forgiveness. I recommend it to everyone and hope those in Leanne and Nichole’s situation can learn to let go of the past and move on.

Reading this book helped me put my life in perspective, especially at the end when Leanne cares for her dying ex-husband. At least my late husband Bill didn’t cheat on me so caring for him after he suffered his first stroke that confined him to a wheelchair was a no-brainer. I did this for six years, and my caregiving experiences are detailed in my new memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, which can be purchased online from Amazon, Createspace, and Smashwords in paperback and various eBook formats.

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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

 

Mother’s Secret

Sister Earnest came into our lives, unexpected. We weren’t Catholic. In the fall of 1985, Mother was teaching English and communications at Sheridan College in Wyoming, and the nun was one of her students. She was part of a contemplative Benedictine monastery located about fifteen miles south of town near Big Horn where people could retreat to meditate and swim in their pool.

At Christmas that year, while I was home on break from the University of Montana in Billings where I was doing graduate work in music therapy, Mother made a startling announcement. We were walking in the park on Christmas Day. Dad and my younger brother Andy were off somewhere so it was just her and me. Because of my limited vision, I held her arm, as she guided me along the snowy road while the sun shone overhead. “I’m moving out,” she said.

“What?”

“There’s a house I can rent about a mile from the monastery. It’s on the Walters Ranch property, and there’s a swimming pool which I could use. I’ll probably move there in January.”

Shocked but intrigued, I said, “Okay, it sounds like you’ll be settled there by the time I come home for summer vacation. I can’t wait to try out the pool.”

“Actually, there won’t be room for you and Andy. The house only has one bedroom. There’s a utility room, but it has a washer and dryer and not much space.”

My heart sank. Then I thought of something else. “What about Clancy and the cats?” Clancy was our Irish setter, or to be more precise, Dad’s dog.

“Andy can feed the animals, and I’ll show him how to run the washer and dryer and dishwasher so he can do all that.”

Stunned, I slipped on a patch of ice and nearly fell. After steadying me, Mother said, “I have a right to be selfish.” I didn’t know what to say.

We finished our walk in silence. After returning home, I rushed upstairs to my room and found Howard, our tiger-striped cat, stretched out on my bed. As I did many times when I was a child, I flopped down next to her, buried my face in her fur, and let the tears flow. She purred as if to say, “There, there, it’ll be all right.”

In January, I returned to school and tried not to think about Mother moving out, leaving Dad, Andy, Clancy, and the cats to fend for themselves. It wasn’t too hard not to dwell on our dysfunctional family since my studies took a lot of my attention.

About a month later, Mother called. “Your dad is moving out. He found an apartment, and he’ll take Clancy.” I was relieved that Andy and the cats would still be in good hands. I wasn’t as attached to Clancy but knew Dad would take good care of him.

Soon after that, Mother came to visit and brought Sister Earnest. I hadn’t met her before. Although I couldn’t put my finger on it, I thought she was weird. She said, “Why don’t I rub your feet? Massage is my specialty.”

I took her up on the offer, not knowing what else to say or do. It felt pretty good, but for some reason, I didn’t sleep well that night.

I compared notes with Dad later when he came with Clancy. He said, “Yeah, you’re right. There is something strange about her.”

During the following summer, Mother spent more and more time with Sister Earnest. She stayed overnight at the monastery once in a while, and I was often invited to play my guitar and sing for their religious programs and swim in their pool. I liked the other nuns, and the pool was great.

Mother seemed to be a different person around Sister Earnest. It was as if the nun brought out something in her that nobody else could, but I didn’t know what. I felt uncomfortable when I was around them both or when Mother talked to her on the phone for long periods of time.

“Her original name was Jackie,” Mother said. “She used to be a nurse.” That didn’t help.

Sister Earnest also spent nights at the house with Mother, sometimes when I was home on breaks. The following Christmas, she took over the decorating of the house and wouldn’t let me or Andy help Mother with the tree. She was overbearing and often patronizing, and I was nervous around her. When she ate Christmas dinner with me, Andy, Dad, Mother, and Grandma, she insisted on saying grace before the meal. This was something we never did, and I could tell everyone besides Mother was just as uncomfortable as I was.

One night, Mother and Sister Earnest had been in the study where the nun slept when she stayed with us. After they left to start dinner, I passed the study on my way downstairs and noticed the sofa bed already unfolded and the sheets in tangles. I felt sick to my stomach but told myself this couldn’t be. Nuns didn’t have sex with women or anyone else. She was just giving Mother a massage, right?

In the fall of 1987, I moved to Fargo, North Dakota, where I completed a six-month music therapy internship. As luck would have it, next door to the nursing home where I worked was a convent. Although they weren’t the same order as Sister Earnest’s, she contacted them, hoping I could perhaps live in a cottage on their premises. No such accommodations were available so I rented an apartment instead.

I was invited to eat Thanksgiving dinner at the convent. One nun brought me a care package containing pop, canned goods, and other non-perishable items sent by Sister Earnest and invited me to a Christmas concert. Another often asked me to play my guitar and sing for religious activities she conducted at the nursing home.

Sister Earnest was hoping I would stay in Fargo after my internship ended and get a job. Mother suggested as much. At first, I liked the idea, but by April of 1988, I’d had enough of that town, the brutal winter, my bank that wouldn’t cash a check from Mother because of limited funds, and my internship supervisor who, from January on, made my life miserable.

Despite the D grade I received in my internship, I was eventually able to become registered as a music therapist, but that didn’t make finding a job any easier since the profession was little known back then. For the next six months, I lived at home. Andy was in college by that time so it was just me, Mother, and often Sister Earnest. I had lunch with Dad and helped him with the business occasionally, but I spent most of my time sending out resumes and filing job applications with little success. Mother and Sister Earnest did their thing, and I was often left to my own devices.

In January of 1989, Sister Earnest left the Benedictine order and moved to California. I half expected Mother to follow her, but she didn’t. Instead, she suggested I find an apartment since I had enough in savings, and I could get by for a while with the money I received from Social Security every month. I was only too happy to move out. At that time, I was offered a volunteer position at a nursing home in Sheridan. In March, I was hired as an activities assistant.

Although my parents separated and eventually divorced, they got along a lot better than they did when they were married, especially after Sister Earnest left. Mother traveled to California frequently to visit her, and the former nun came to Sheridan once in a while. A couple of years after I moved out, our family house was sold, and Mother moved first to a townhouse in Sheridan and then a cabin in Story, , a small town twenty miles away at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains. Andy was married by this time and living in Colorado.

One day while Dad and I were visiting Mother in Story, she said, “Earnest keeps asking me to return things she gave me, and now, she wants to come and live with me. I don’t think I can take any more of this.” I was relieved that Mother had finally come to her senses.

Years later, Mother was diagnosed with cancer. When she became weak as a result of chemotherapy and malnourishment, Dad moved to the little house in Story to care for her for six months before she passed away unexpectedly in December of 1999. In November of 2012, after my husband’s funeral, Dad, perhaps a little drunk, said, “Your mother wanted a divorce because she was in love with Sister Earnest.”

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This was published in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders. Names were changed to protect privacy.

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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