Senior Companion #Open Book Blog Hop #Wednesday Words

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s prompt is:  Write a scene or story that includes a character who has a phobia. What do they fear? How does this phobia affect their life?

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After making sure I had the right address, I parked my car in front of the white house with green trim. I spotted a wheelchair accessible van in the driveway and a gray station wagon in the garage. For the umpteen millionth time, I studied the information I’d been given about this guy.

Mark Fisher was nearly seventy years old. He’d suffered a stroke several years earlier and was confined to a wheelchair. He and his wife got help with his personal care and house cleaning from the senior center’s home health care program, but they never went out. I looked again at the wheelchair accessible van. Maybe it no longer worked, and they couldn’t afford to fix it.

I’d been a mechanic before going into law enforcement. I could probably fix the engine, I thought, as I climbed out of my car and locked my driver’s side door. It wasn’t too hot, and there was a nice breeze, but it may as well have been over 100 degrees, as evidenced by the sweat trickling down my back. I wished I’d told my wife what she could do with her idea of me volunteering as a senior companion now that I was retired with nothing else to do.

She still worked as the senior center’s volunteer coordinator. I still loved her and still wanted to please her. So, with trepidation, I made my way up the walk to the front door.

A newspaper lay at the bottom of the steps. The front door opened a crack, and I glimpsed a woman’s face peering at me with a weary expression. I smiled and said, “Hi, you must be Terry, Mark’s wife.”

She opened the door a little farther and gave me a weak smile. “Yeah, you must be Dennis McGuire.”

“In the flesh,” I said with a wave.

As I picked up the paper, a smile of relief crossed her face, and she said, “Oh, thank you so much. Our paper boy can’t throw a newspaper to save his soul, or maybe he does this just to spite me. Who knows?”

I thought this sounded strange but said, “Well, I was a paper boy once, and I didn’t have very good aim, either.”

Then, eyeing the overflowing box next to the steps, I asked, “Want me to grab the mail?”

“Please,” she answered, again looking relieved.

I retrieved a bunch of letters and junk and followed her inside. She quickly closed the door and took the newspaper and mail. “I’ll just put these in my office,” she said before hurrying into an adjoining room.

I found myself in a small living room. A television was tuned to a baseball game, and Mark sat in his  wheelchair nearby. Terry appeared in her office doorway. She wore jeans and a t-shirt, and I couldn’t help noticing the long, uneven, dark strands of hair that fell in waves down her back. Mark was also wearing jeans and a t-shirt. His gray hair also looked a bit scraggly, but he was clean-shaven and otherwise well-kempt.

I smiled at him and was relieved to see that he, unlike his wife, wasn’t scared of me. He grinned and extended his hand. “Hey, Dennis.”

“How you doing, buddy?” I said, walking up to him and shaking his hand.

“Great! But the Rockies are losing again. They’re rotten to the core.”

“That’s too bad. They made it to the play-offs for the World Series last year.”

“Yeah, but they must have let it go to their heads or something because they did pretty bad after that. They didn’t even come close to winning the World Series.”

“Well, maybe they’ll do better this year.”

Terry cleared her throat. “I put Mark in his wheelchair because he would like to visit with you outside. Would you mind taking him out?”

I looked uncertainly at the door through which I’d come. “Uh, I’m not sure how I’ll get him through there and down those steps.”

“Oh, no,” she said, blushing. “You can go out the kitchen door. There’s a ramp.”

“Honey,” Mark said. “Get my radio, so I can hear the game.”

“Oh, you silly goofball.” Terry laughed, as she ruffled his hair, and he grinned.

To me, she said, “It’s the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Rockies are way behind. There’s no chance they’ll win now, but he’s faithful to the end.”

“It’s not a problem,” I assured her. “Hope springs eternal, right, buddy?”

“Yep,” Mark answered with another grin.

He switched off the television with a remote control he held in his hand, then laid it on the table next to him. Terry retrieved a transistor radio from another nearby table and handed it to him. He found the station broadcasting the game.

I grasped the handles of his chair and followed Terry into a spacious kitchen. She opened another door, and I spotted a ramp that led to the driveway. “The gate to get into the yard is around back. Mark can show you.”

Looking hesitant, she added, “I can get drinks ready for you, but would you mind coming back and getting them?”

“Honey, we’ll just be outside this other door,” Mark said, pointing to a separate door at the other end of the room that I assumed led out to the yard but had no ramp.

Terry turned white as a sheet and grasped the handle of the nearby refrigerator door for support. “Mark, you know I can’t do that.”

Mark gave an exasperated sigh. Not knowing what to think, I put a hand on his shoulder and said, “It’s okay, buddy. I’ll park you out there, then come back and get the drinks.”

I turned to Terry, who looked like she was about to pass out. “Why don’t you sit down and rest? I’ll come back and make our drinks once I get him settled, okay?”

Shakily, she made her way to a nearby chair and flopped into it. “I’m so sorry,” she said, her whole body trembling. “There are just some things I can’t do anymore, like Mark can’t walk or dress himself or take himself to the bathroom anymore.”

“It’s not a problem,” I said. I was tempted to put a hand on her shoulder but thought better of it. “I’ll be right back.”

I wheeled Mark out the door, pulling it closed behind us, then down the ramp and around to the back of the house, where we entered a cement patio. Mark directed me to park him next to a picnic table in the shade of an oak tree. “This feels so good,” he said. “I haven’t been outside in a long time.”

This was odd, I thought, but I forged ahead. “What would you like to drink?”

“A beer, straight out of the can.”

“Coming right up,” I said.

Pointing to a nearby door, I asked, “Can I get back in the house this way?”

“You bet! That’ll take you through our back porch and up two steps into the kitchen.”

Inside, I found Terry still sitting where I’d left her. She wasn’t shaking any longer, and some color had returned to her cheeks. With a weak smile, she said, “There’s a case of Coors in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. There’s also a pitcher of lemonade if you’d rather have that.”

I smiled back at her. “No, beer is fine for me, too.”

To reassure her, I added, “I’ll only have one, so I’ll be able to drive home later.”

Looking relieved, she said, “Thank you again so much.”

Out in the yard, I put our beer cans on the picnic table and sat on the bench facing Mark. “Would you mind opening this?” he asked. “I can only use one hand. My stroke, you know.”

“Oh, sure,” I said, picking up his can and flipping the tab. Not realizing that a stroke might have made this task nearly impossible, I blushed.

Mark took a swig of his beer. “You must have been a bartender.”

“Yep,” I said, opening my own can and taking a swig. I was a bartender, then a mechanic, and then finally, I decided to become a policeman.”

“Wow! How long were you on the force?”

“For about forty years. I finally retired a few months ago.”

“Wow!” he said again, then belched.

“How about you?” I asked.

“Well, I majored in IT in college, then decided to open a computer store. I ran it for years but had to retire when I had my stroke.”

“That’s too bad,” I said. Then, it was my turn to belch.

I wanted to ask him about his wife but didn’t think that was a good idea.

He must have read my mind, for he said, “Terry has agoraphobia. It’s a fear of being out in public. She can’t even go out and get the mail or newspaper, let alone take me out in this yard.”

Now, it was my turn to say, “Wow!”

“Yeah, it started a few months ago. She was at the beauty shop one day when she had a panic attack. She got all sweaty and shaky, and she had trouble breathing. She somehow managed to get to her car and drive home, but she told me she couldn’t go out anymore, and she doesn’t, not even to her exercise classes at the Y, which she loves.”

“Oh, brother,” I said, now realizing why he hadn’t been outside in quite a while.

“We now get our groceries delivered, and we even get food from Schwan. She cuts her own hair and sometimes mine, but she doesn’t do a very good job.” He fingered his unruly locks and blushed.

I smiled to reassure him. “Buddy, in my years on the force, I’ve seen a lot worse. But isn’t there anything to be done about your wife’s condition?”

“She won’t see a doctor. That’s the funny thing because she used to be a nurse. She had to quit after I had my stroke and we realized I probably wouldn’t walk again. She makes some money doing freelance writing, and we get monthly disability checks from Social Security, but that’s it.”

I looked around at the green lawn and wanted to ask who mowed it, since neither Mark or Terry could. As if reading my thoughts, Mark said, “The senior center has a chore service that shovels our walks in the winter and mows our lawn in the summer. They do a pretty good job and charge us according to the income we make. I qualify for Medicaid, which covers in home health care services. So, we get along okay, financially, that is.”

“That’s good, but don’t you have any family or friends who could help?”

“My son and daughter are both married and have moved away. They have their own lives. My daughter will be coming next month with the grandkids, but my son hasn’t kept in touch much since the stroke. I guess he’s not sure how to deal with that and now his mother’s condition. Most of my friends haven’t kept in touch, either.”

We finished our beers in silence, punctuated by a belch now and then, while the game droned on. Finally, Mark reached over to where he’d lain his radio on the picnic table and switched it off. “Terry’s right. They’re not gonna win, at least not this game.”

“Well, there’s always tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah.” He smiled. “They’ll do better tomorrow.”

“By the way, does your wheelchair van still work?”

“Yeah, but we haven’t taken it anywhere in months. You know Terry…” His voice trailed off.

“Well, I can drive. So, why don’t we go, um, maybe to the barbershop, that is, if you really want a haircut.”

He grinned. “Is the Pope Catholic? I know just the place. Hank’s is on Main Street, right across the street from Wally’s Bar and Grill. Terry used to take me to both places. So, we should be able to get my chair in both of them.”

“That’s funny. I never pictured Terry as a drinker. But maybe that was before.”

“No, she’s always been more partial to Dr. Pepper than beer.”

I laughed, then, on impulse, reached over and slapped him on the back. “I’m also a Pepper. Since I’m the designated driver, that’s what I’ll be drinking.”

I stood and picked up our empty cans. “Where can I dispose of these and get the keys to the van?”

“There’s a trash can we use for recycling in Terry’s office next to the living room. She’s probably there now. She keeps the keys in the top drawer of her desk.”

“Okay.”

“It may take some convincing to get her to hand them over. I read in an article online that agoraphobia also causes separation anxiety. That’s why she won’t go and see a doctor or go anywhere else for that matter.”

“It sounds like I have my work cut out for me, but I’m up for a challenge.”

“Good luck.”

After rinsing the cans in the kitchen sink, I found Terry in her office, typing on a computer. A nearby radio was tuned to an oldies station. When I walked in, she stopped and pointed to a can underneath her desk. “You can toss those in there. Thanks. I suppose Mark wants another.”

“Nope,” I said, flinging the cans into the receptacle with a loud clatter. “I need the keys to the van. Mark wants a haircut.”

Her face turned pale, and she gripped the arms of her office chair. I waited, giving her space. Finally, she regained her composure and said, “Of course. I’m not the best of barbers.”

Her hand shook, as she reached into her desk drawer and retrieved the keys. As I took them, I squeezed her trembling hand. Then, I bent to her level and looked deep into her blue eyes, still wide with fear. “Look, I used to be a cop. If you don’t believe me, you can call the station and ask if a Dennis McGuire used to be on the force.”

She smiled. “I’ve seen your name in the paper associated with a case or two.”

“Well,” I said, standing up to my full height. “I’m sure you realize now that Mark will be safe with me. I promise I won’t drink any more beer at Wally’s, and I’ll get him back here safe and sound.”

“I know. I just can’t shake this fear, but I’m going to try, for Mark’s sake. He loves getting out.”

“Of course he does.”

Her cell phone pinged. “Oh, excuse me. That’s probably from Mark. He loves to text me, even though it takes him longer with just one hand, and he won’t use Siri.”

She picked up her phone and smiled as she read what was on the screen. “He says you like Dr. Pepper, and would I please add it to our grocery list?”

I laughed. “I understand you like it, too, and I didn’t see any in the fridge earlier. We could pick some up for you on our way home.”

“Oh, no, that won’t be necessary. We’re expecting a grocery delivery tomorrow. I can hang on till then. Thanks, anyway.”

“You’re welcome. By the way, you know you can always call Mark on his cell if you get anxious, and I’ll give you my number in case, for some reason, you can’t reach him.”

“Okay,” she said, handing me a sticky note from her desk.

After I scribbled my number and handed it to her, she did something I didn’t expect. She stood and hugged me. “Oh, Dennis, you are such a godsend. I don’t know what I would have done if the senior companion coordinator told me she didn’t have any men.”

Then, she opened another desk drawer and handed me a wallet. “This is Mark’s. There should be more than enough cash in there to cover the barber and the bar.” She winked.

“If not, I’ll take care of it,” I said, pocketing the billfold. “Thanks.”

On the radio, Bonnie Tyler was singing “Holding Out for a Hero.” Terry said, “You’re our hero.”

“No problem,” I said, blushing.

Outside, with Mark’s direction, it didn’t take me long to figure out how to use the van’s lift. As I was getting ready to load him, I noticed Terry looking out the kitchen window. Standing on the lift next to Mark’s chair, I gave her a thumbs-up, then said to Mark, “Okay, buddy, up we go.” I pressed the button to lift the wheelchair into the van.

After securing the chair to the floor and buckling Mark in, I jumped out and closed the door. Terry was still at the window. I gave her another thumbs-up before walking around to the driver’s side, climbing in, fastening my own seatbelt, and starting the engine. I was relieved it still ran, even though it hadn’t been used in months.

As I backed out of the driveway, Mark said, “Ah, now, this is the life.”

“You bet, pal!” I said, as I drove away. I was now glad my wife had insisted I volunteer as a senior companion.

Although, at least in this country, things are slowly returning to normal, a lot of older adults are still isolated. Many senior centers offer companion programs that match older adults with others who are shut in and want social interaction. If you’d like to help such a person or if you or someone you know might benefit from a companion, please contact your local senior center.

If you’d like to participate in this week’s Open Book Blog hop, click here. You can learn more about agoraphobia by reading this Wikipedia article.

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And now, I’m pleased to announce that throughout the month of July, My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress are available from Smashwords ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of its annual summer/winter sale. You can visit my Smashwords author page to download these books. Happy reading!

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.

***

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A DAY OF FIRSTS #Fiction #Tuesday Tidbit

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

I’m forty-seven years old, and for the first time in my life, I have a cavity. Here I am, in the dentist’s chair, about to have it filled. Because this is one of my worst fears, I feel as if my world is being turned upside down. I’m also afraid of being arrested and getting stuck in an elevator, none of which has happened, at least not yet.

“If you’d prefer, I could give you gas,” the dentist says. “but you’d need to rest at home afterwards.”

“No. My husband is partially paralyzed as a result of two strokes, and I need to be able to take care of him.”

“I understand. I’ll give you Novocain.”

As the drill whines, I close my eyes and imagine myself lying in bed with my husband while my next-door neighbor is boring holes into something. To my surprise, there’s no pain, only a cold sensation.

When I arrive home, a policeman is waiting for me. “Did you know you were supposed to appear for jury duty today?” he asks.

“No, I just got back from a dentist appointment,” is all I can think to say.

“You were sent a notice last week. I found it in the bushes under the mailbox.” He holds up a white envelope.

“I see by your cane that you’re blind. So, I understand why you didn’t get it.”

“Actually, I have some vision,” I say, looking at my husband, sprawled in his recliner.

I turn back to the cop. “You’re right. I didn’t see the notice. I’d be glad to serve on a jury anytime, but I need advanced notice, so I can make arrangements for my husband’s care. He’s partially paralyzed as a result of two strokes, and he depends on me for everything.”

“I’m sorry, but I have to take you in, anyway. You need to appear in Judge Watkins’s court this afternoon.”

I feel a sick sensation in the pit of my stomach. My husband, knowing my fears, bursts out laughing. I turn and glare at him. “That’s not funny. What the hell am I supposed to do with you?”

Between paroxysms of mirth, he answers, “Call Westwood Manor.”

Westwood Manor is the nursing home where he recuperated from his strokes and where he goes occasionally for respite care when I need to be out of town. It’s also the place where I worked for fifteen years before I decided to write full-time.

I turn again to the policeman. “Can you wait while I make arrangements?”

“Of course.”

With trembling fingers, I pick up the phone and dial the number I know by heart. I ask to speak with the admissions director I’ve known for years. Thank goodness he doesn’t laugh when I explain the situation. He assures me there will be no problem. “It just so happens I’m driving the van today because our regular driver is sick,” he says. “I have nothing else to do. So, I’ll be there to pick him up in a few minutes.”

The cop waits with infinite patience while I toss items into a suitcase for my husband. I’m glad of the distraction that keeps my apprehension at bay. As soon as I park my husband in his wheelchair by the kitchen door, the nursing home’s van pulls into the driveway.

If I’d taken the gas at the dentist’s office, I would be totally numb. I wouldn’t feel the handcuffs biting into my wrists or hear my husband laughing at me. I wouldn’t be shaking, as the policeman helps me into the back seat of the patrol car. At the station, I’m locked in a holding cell with four other people who also failed to appear for jury duty.

We swap stories. The others had either forgotten, or like me, didn’t know they had to appear. One guy had just returned from a long vacation and hadn’t gone through his mail yet.

Later that afternoon, after being given the regulation orange jump suits to wear, we’re taken to the courthouse in leg irons and handcuffs and herded into an elevator. The car ascends, stops with a jerk. After a moment, one of the sheriff’s deputies says, “I think we’re stuck.”

“Oh great!” I say, my heart pounding. “This day couldn’t have gotten any worse if it tried.”

A gentle hand touches my shoulder. I’m relieved to open my eyes and find myself snuggled next to my husband in our dark bedroom. My talking watch tells me it’s four in the morning. My husband says, “I need to pee.”

For once, I’m not irritated, as I crawl out of bed, pull him into a sitting position, and hand him the urinal. After he does his business, I climb in bed beside him, resting my head on his shoulder, as his good arm encircles me.

“Don’t you have a dentist appointment today?” he asks.

***

Those who know me might think this is a true story, but I assure you it’s pure fiction. I was inspired to write it years ago after reading a newspaper account of how four people who failed to appear for jury duty were hauled into court in leg irons and handcuffs. This story appears in the current issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, which can be downloaded here.

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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.

***

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Spring’s Hopelessness #Poetry

Today’s poem comes from my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. My late husband Bill loved to sit outside in the sun. One year, when spring came after a difficult winter, he was anxious to do this but frustrated because it still wasn’t warm enough. That is what inspired me to write this poem. You can read more about Bill and me in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, which can be downloaded absolutely free this month from Smashwords. See below for details.

This poem is a haibun. It contains two paragraphs of prose followed by one stanza of haiku. You can click on the title to hear me read it.

 

Spring’s Hopelessness

 

 

Spring comes wet with little sun. Hope is dashed by the wind that buffets the house, rattles wind chimes, rain that drums on the roof. Without enough warmth, grass, flowers, trees, shrubs won’t grow.

He loves the sun, can’t get enough. It’s one of his few pleasures, since he can no longer walk or use his left arm or care for himself. After a brutal winter with endless snow, frigid temperatures, he longs to enjoy the sun’s healing warmth.

 

wishes for the sun

fall on the deaf ears of God

wait for warmth to come

 

By the way, for the next month, My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress are available on Smashwords as part of its sale to support those isolated as a result of the coronavirus situation. Please click here to visit my Smashwords author page and download these books. Thank you for stopping by and reading today.

 

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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Review: Me Before You

Me Before You

By Jojo Moyes

Copyright 2012

 

In 2009, Louisa, after losing her job as a waitress in an English village, gets a job as a caregiver to Will, a young, wealthy former business executive and daredevil who became almost totally paralyzed as a result of a motorcycle accident two years earlier. At first, Will is hard to get along with, but he eventually opens up to Louisa, and they develop a special bond. She soon discovers that in six months, he will go to a clinic in Switzerland where he will end his life.

After that, Louisa tries unsuccessfully to convince Will that life is worth living. She takes him out to a horse race, concerts, and even to the wedding of his former girlfriend. After he suffers a bout with pneumonia, she spirits him to a faraway tropical island where they spend ten glorious days. She realizes she has feelings for him which complicate her life since she already has a boyfriend, Patrick, a marathon runner. Louisa breaks up with Patrick and reluctantly accepts Will’s decision.

Having been a caregiver, I could identify with Louisa’s feelings of insecurity when she first starts the job and her sense of accomplishment when she gains more confidence in her abilities to perform many of Will’s personal care tasks. My favorite scene takes place close to the beginning of the book after Will suffers from a fever not related to the pneumonia he catches later. She snuggles in bed with him and sings him a silly song, and he tells her in no uncertain terms that she’s not the best of singers. It reminded me of times when I cuddled with and sang to my late husband Bill. Of course he loved my singing. As a matter of fact, he fell in love with my voice, thank goodness.

This book gives readers a negative impression of people with disabilities. Having a terminal illness and wanting to end your life before it gets too painful is one thing, but Will had at least ten good years ahead of him. Being wealthy, he could have been a philanthropist, funding research on spinal cord injuries or the development of adaptive equipment, perhaps opening a recreation or rehabilitation center for people with disabilities.

When I was single and employed and lived in an apartment building, one of my neighbors, Pat, was a quadriplegic like Will. She depended on others for help doing almost everything, but she never let that get her down. Before the accident that left her almost totally paralyzed, she was a motorcycle cop. Naturally, she couldn’t do that anymore, but she was able to use her computer to become involved in advocacy for the disabled and edit the apartment complex’s monthly newsletter. Like Will, she had her bad days, but she always worked through them. When my work hours were cut back as a result of my own disability, she was there for me, faxing documents to my attorney and other locations and providing encouragement and support.

When I got married and moved out of the building, we lost touch. I often wonder what happened to Pat. If she has left this world, I would like to think that unlike Will, she lived the last years of her life to their fullest.

My late husband Bill is another example of courage in the face of adversity. In 2006, three months after we were married, he suffered the first of two strokes that left him partially paralyzed. Like Will and Pat, he needed help doing almost everything, and he suffered from occasional depression, but I don’t think it ever occurred to him to end his own life, even if it was possible. For six years while I cared for him, he enjoyed listening to recorded books and ball games and used his computer to do email, surf the Internet, and even bet in a football pool. He also enjoyed talking on the phone daily to friends and relatives. Thank goodness for unlimited long distance. He was happy until 2012 when his body decided it was time to go. All this is detailed in my new memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

As for Me Before You, I would like to have seen a more positive ending. After Louisa finds out that Will plans to take his own life, she visits the local library where she learns to use a computer. She does research and networks with quadriplegics and their caregivers.

I would like to have seen Louisa encourage Will to do the same. Perhaps Will could have met someone like Pat and realized that becoming almost totally paralyzed isn’t a death sentence. If you read this book, please take the author’s negative portrayal of a quadriplegic with a grain of salt.

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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