Two years ago after Bill died, I started working on a memoir about meeting, marrying, and caring for him. After a couple of months, I had to put it aside because it was too difficult to deal with emotionally. Two years later, I’m ready to start work on it again. After reading Marge Piercy’s Sleeping with Cats, I decided to combine prose with poetry to tell the story the way she does. I’m revamping what I’ve written so far.
Before I even finished the book, I found a possible publisher. Something or Other Publishing has a different concept. I posted my book idea on their site where readers can vote for it. The more votes I get, the better chance I have of publishing the book with this company. I’m asking you, my readers, to go to the publisher’s site and vote for my book idea. The working title is My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. I’ll paste a brief description and prolog below.
In September of 2005, Abbie Johnson married Bill Taylor. She was in her mid-forties, and he was nineteen years older. Three months later, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side and confined him to a wheelchair. Abbie Johnson Taylor uses prose and poetry to tell the story of how she met and married her husband and then how she cared for him for six years despite her visual impairment.
At first, there was a glimmer of hope that Bill would walk again, but when therapists gave up on him seven months after his second stroke, Taylor resigned herself to being a permanent family caregiver. She discusses trials and tribulations: learning to dress him and transfer him from one place to another, sitting up with him at night when he couldn’t pee or move his bowels or because of other medical problems, battling doctors and bureaucrats to obtain necessary equipment and services, purchasing a wheelchair accessible van and finding someone to drive them so they wouldn’t always depend on the local paratransit service’s limited hours.
She also talks about balancing caregiving with writing and how she managed to publish two books and various poems and stories in journals and anthologies. In the end, she describes the painful decision she and Bill made to move him to a nursing home when he became too weak for her to care for him in September of 2012. He seemed to give up on life after that and passed away a month later.
THE BIG DAY
This couldn’t be happening, I told myself, as in my underwear, I paced the upstairs hall in Grandma’s house between my aunt’s old bedroom and the bathroom. It was a warm September afternoon in 2005, and out in the yard, I heard strains of music from the string duo my father hired for the occasion mingled with the chatter of arriving guests. Soon, the ceremony would start. Would I have to walk down the aisle on my father’s arm in my underwear? Where was my sister-in-law Kathleen who agreed to be matron of honor?
She was probably still at the motel with my brother Andy, their two sons Dylan and Tristan, ages eight and six, who were to be ushers, and their two-year-old daughter Isabella, who would serve as flower girl. Not only did we not have ushers or a flower girl but my dress was with Kathleen at the motel. Why wasn’t she here?
The front door banged, and to my relief, I heard the excited voices of my nephews and niece. “Go out back, and don’t mess up your nice clothes,” Kathleen called before rushing up the stairs to greet me.
“You have my dress?” I asked, noticing she wasn’t carrying a garment.
“No, it’s right there on the bed,” she said, pointing to somewhere I couldn’t see. With my limited vision, I could only make out people and objects close to me, and in the heightened emotional state of any bride-to-be, I didn’t think to look closely for the dress. I’d been pacing the floor and ringing my hands for twenty minutes, wondering where it was, and all this time, it was right in front of me.
Later, fully dressed, I sat on the toilet while Kathleen applied my make-up. From the yard below, the string duo’s music and the din of voices drifted up and in through the open bathroom window. When I was ready, Kathleen said, “Okay, we need something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Let’s see…”
While she wandered through the upstairs rooms, I made my way to the ground floor, feeling anxious. The living room was deserted. Everyone was outside, waiting. Just as I sat on the couch to compose myself, Dad appeared and said, “Honey, they’re starting Pachelbel’s Canon.”
I leapt to my feet and called up the stairs to Kathleen, “Screw something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Let’s do this.” I took Dad’s arm, and we maneuvered through the living and dining room and kitchen and out the back door. In minutes, Kathleen was at my side.
Isabella strolled down the makeshift aisle. “Oh look,” said someone in the crowd. “She’s dropping rose petals and picking them up again. Isn’t that cute?”
I wanted to be annoyed, but she was only two. Still, I couldn’t help wondering what else could possibly go wrong. Finally, I heard the musical cue for my entrance. “Okay now,” I whispered to Dad, and we descended the back porch steps and moved down the aisle.
At first, I didn’t see Bill. Was he still at the Mint Bar? Then all of a sudden, there he stood with his gray hair and sunglasses, wearing a green suit that complimented my gown. He took my hand and said, “Hello sweetie. Are you nervous?”
As usual, his touch and voice were reassuring, and I smiled and said, “No, now that you’re here.”
Nothing else mattered, not the lost and found wedding dress, the late arrival of the matron of honor, the absence of something old, new, borrowed, blue, or the errant flower girl. After a long day of preparation and celebration away from each other, we were finally together.
I’LL KEEP THIS MEMORY
of my wedding always,
guests seated in rows of white plastic chairs,
an arch framed by flowers and balloons,
the string duo that played Pachelbel’s Cannon,
as I marched down the aisle
and “Ode to Joy,” as we recessed,
unaware that tragedy would change our lives.
If you like what you’ve read so far, please vote for this idea at http://soopllc.com/blog/book-ideas/ideal-partner-met-married-cared-man-loved-despite-debilitating-odds-abbie-taylor/?doing_wp_cron=1420821398.1607348918914794921875 . Thank you.
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.
Order That’s Life from Amazon.