Mr. Smith’s Mistake #Essay, #Tuesday Tidbit

On this day in 1999, my mother passed away peacefully during her afternoon nap. For six months, she’d been suffering from cancer but had been given a good prognosis only a week before. So, her death was a shock to all of us.

She didn’t live to see my first ever published piece, which appeared  in SageScript, a literary journal produced by Sheridan College that she once edited. Nor did she witness the publication of my five books and other poems, stories, and essays in various magazines and anthologies, my marriage, my husband’s two strokes, which caused me to be his caregiver for six years, or his passing.

In memory of her, I would like to share that first essay that was published in SageScript in April of 2001. It won second place in a local writing contest in May of that year. It has since been revised. Enjoy!

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MR. SMITH’S MISTAKE

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

During the 1940’s when my mother was in the eighth grade, her teacher, Mrs. Gammel, was fond of terrorizing her class with a ruler. When I was in the sixth grade in Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1974, one of my teachers, whom I’ll call Mr. Smith, taught math, not my best subject. Instead of trying to help me understand long division and other difficult concepts, he threatened to hit me with an eighteen-inch ruler if I didn’t improve.

One day, he kept me after school to work on some problems, as he’d done many times. When I ran into trouble, I asked him for help. “Maybe I should hit you right now,” he said, as he reached into his desk drawer.

At that moment, the school secretary entered the room. “Abbie, your mother’s on the phone,” she said. Relieved, I followed her to the office. After that, Mr. Smith never threatened me again.

It’s possible that he could have been singling me out because of my visual impairment. But although he never threatened any of my classmates with an eighteen-inch ruler, he wasn’t always nice to them, either.

Mr. Smith left the elementary school in Sheridan after my sixth grade year. I heard he was driving a truck. He eventually ascended to the position of principal at a school in Casper, Wyoming, approximately 150 miles south of Sheridan.

Years later, an article about me appeared in a newsletter that was produced by the Wyoming Department of Education and distributed to schools and visually impaired people living in the state. At the time, I was working as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. I received a letter from Mr. Smith. I was surprised because it was the first time I’d heard from him since the sixth grade.

In his letter, he said that after reading the article, he admired me and hoped that I remembered him. I wrote him back and said that yes, I definitely remembered that eighteen-inch ruler. After putting the letter in the mail, I thought that would be the end of it.

To my astonishment, he replied, saying that through the years, he realized that he hadn’t been a good teacher. “Corporal punishment isn’t always the answer,” he said. “I hope you’ll forgive me.”

Since he didn’t have my home address, he sent his first letter to me in care of the nursing home, which was mentioned in the article. I had a great relationship with Joan, my supervisor, and since I didn’t want her to think I was in the habit of receiving personal mail at work, I mentioned our correspondence. Jean, one of my co-workers, happened to be in the office when we were talking, and she said, “I’ve never heard of an eighteen-inch ruler. I don’t think there is such a thing.”

“Oh, that’s just too funny,” said Joan. “Maybe the next time I have to go to Casper, you should come with me, and I can drop you off at his school.”

“That’s a great idea,” I said. “I could walk into his office and say, ‘Okay, Mr. Smith, I see your eighteen-inch ruler and raise you a forty-six inch white cane.”  We all laughed.

But after giving the issue some thought, I came to the conclusion that teachers make mistakes like everyone else. Mr. Smith never hit me with the ruler. Since I didn’t see it, it may not have existed.

On the other hand, my mother was a victim in the eighth grade. I wonder if Mrs. Gammel ever saw the error of her ways.

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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

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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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

A Novel About Reconciliation #Friday Fun Reads, #Reblog

Note: I posted this review last spring when the book came out. It was recently discussed by one of the groups in which I participate. So, I thought it worth a second look.

 

Goin’ Home

by Phyllis Staton Campbell

Copyright 2020

 

What Amazon Says

 

Pastor Jim, blinded in Iraq, and his wife Amy settle down after the storm that has almost destroyed the town, only to find that the most peaceful garden can harbor a serpent. The town is thrown into chaos, when a mass killer is returned home to die after fifty years in prison. The town is divided and they find themselves in the middle.

There is humor when the new church secretary confuses names, and sends the hearse to pick up a dog. A country music singer appears on the scene, and Jim learns a secret from the past.

For readers who enjoy the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I met Phyllis Staton Campbell several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers to which I belong. Goin’ Home is the sequel to Where Sheep May Safely Graze, which I reviewed here.

I was riveted from the first page. I laughed, got mad, but was finally rewarded in the end. I love the way the parsonage cat appears in the first and last chapters.  I was left wanting more.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services 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

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.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

A Compelling Adventure Story of Forgiveness #Friday Fun Reads

Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel

by Katherine Center

Copyright 2019.

 

What Amazon Says

 

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about courage, hope, and learning to love against all odds.

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew—even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…and it means risking it all—the only job she’s ever loved, and the hero she’s worked like hell to become.

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt and healing tour-de-force about the strength of vulnerability, the nourishing magic of forgiveness, and the life-changing power of defining courage, at last, for yourself.

 

My Thoughts

 

With plenty of riveting action and compelling dialog, this book was hard to put down, especially close to the end. According to the acknowledgements, the author’s husband, a firefighter, helped her with the book.

Two ironies struck me. First of all, most firefighters I’ve met have been nice. But these firemen can make a new crew member’s life miserable, especially if that crew member is a woman.

Also, there seems to be a rule, written or not, that firefighters can’t become romantically involved with other firefighters. Cassie and the rookie are aware of this but eventually no longer able to deny their attraction to each other. It’s interesting to see how they get out of the awkward position in which this places them.

I also enjoyed learning some things about firefighting I hadn’t known before. The ending is satisfying, and I’ll definitely read more of this author’s work.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. Thank you for reading. Stay safe, happy, and healthy, and may you always have positive experiences.

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.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Reblog: Unbroken

I got my weeks mixed up. The feature about me I thought would go live on Lynda Lambert’s blog today is actually not scheduled until next Saturday. So here’s and old book review from a few years ago. This is one of two books my regional talking book library has chosen to discuss this month, so I figured it was worth another look. Happy reading.

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Unbroken

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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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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