Lost in a Medical Labyrinth #SixSentenceStoryThursdayLinkUp #WritingPrompts #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

When my late husband suffered his first stroke in 2006 here in Sheridan, Wyoming, he was airlifted to a hospital in Billings, Montana, about 150 miles away, because it was thought he might need surgery. That hospital in Billings, like many big city hospitals, had labyrinths of corridors on each floor. Signage was everywhere, but for someone like me with a visual impairment, that was no help.

After it was determined that Bill would be there for a while, Dad drove up to Billings and helped me figure out how to get from the hotel across the street where I was staying to Bill’s room and other locations in the hospital such as the Subway sandwich shop and the cafeteria. Even so, I still got lost a few times when I wasn’t paying attention. Once, I ended up in a parking garage with no way to get back into the hospital building.

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Thanks to Girlie on the Edge for inspiring the above true story with this week’s six-sentence prompt, in which the given word is “labyrinth.” You can participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ six-sentence creations by clicking here. You can also learn how I met and married Bill, then cared for him after he suffered two paralyzing strokes by reading My Ideal Partner, which is available free from Smashwords this month. See below for details.

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And now, I’m pleased to announce that until the end of the month, all my books can be downloaded from Smashwords ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of its summer/winter sale. You can click here to visit my author page and 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?

***

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My Man Bill #TuesdayTidbit #Jottings #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

My late husband was the bravest person I ever knew. He was tall with gray hair and often wore sunglasses. A soft-spoken, gentle soul, he rarely got mad. When he did, it wasn’t for long. He endured so much hardship in his life, yet remained positive.

At an early age, he lost some of his vision as a result of rheumatoid arthritis, which also affected his legs. Through surgery, he was able to walk, but he lost the rest of his eyesight twenty years later. As an adult, he had one or two more operations to fuse limbs that were giving him trouble.

In 2003, we met through a magazine. A few months after we started corresponding, he contracted the West Nile virus. It took him several months to make a full recovery, but he got back on his feet.

In January of 2006, three months after we were married, he suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. After spending nine months in a nursing facility, he returned home, and I became his caregiver.

We hoped that through outpatient physical therapy, he would be able to walk again. But in January of 2007, almost a month after his first stroke, he had a second one, not as severe, but enough to set him back to the point where he would never walk again.

With the use of only one arm and leg, he could do little for himself. I dressed him, prepared his meals, and helped him with various devices he enjoyed using for email and listening to audiobooks and ball games. All the while, he was stoic and loving. Whenever I felt the pressure, all I had to do was hold him and be reassured by the touch of his arm around me and the feel of his body against mine.

But in the summer of 2012, his appetite decreased. As a result, he lost strength, making it harder for me to lift him. In September, we consulted a physical therapist, who told us it was no longer safe for Bill to remain at home. He reluctantly agreed to move to a nursing home permanently.

Over the next month, he continued to decline, eventually getting to the point where he couldn’t eat without help. All the while, he remained alert and upbeat until he finally got to the point where he was no longer aware of what was going on around him.

One day, while an aide tried to feed him lunch, the food just dribbled out of his mouth. He apparently couldn’t or wouldn’t swallow. He also started having trouble breathing. I signed end of life papers, and he was put on oxygen.

But even then, although he could no longer talk, and I didn’t know if he could understand what we were saying, he hung on. After three days of watching him in this state, I realized I needed to give him permission to go, which I did. On October 30th, 2012, he finally left this world. I’ll always love him and admire him for his courage in the face of all the adversity in his otherwise good life.

You can read our full story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, which is available free from Smashwords this month. See below for details. I was inspired to write the above while taking a memoir writing class from fellow author Glenda Beall, who blogs here.

How about you? Who’s the bravest person you know? Please tell me about it in the comment field below. Alternatively, you can post about it on your own blog with a link to this post.

And now, I’m pleased to announce that until the end of the month, all my books can be downloaded from Smashwords ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of its summer/winter sale. You can click here to visit my author page and 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?

***

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Accidental Death #TuesdayTidbit #Fiction #Inspiration

ACCIDENTAL DEATH

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2022.

 

“I love you so much,” said Anna, as she knelt over her father’s casket one rainy morning.

“Now you’re being dramatic,” said Ginger, glaring at her stepdaughter. “People might think you were having, well, um, a sinful relationship with your father.”

The teen-ager stood and looked around at the deserted tent where the graveside service had taken place and the closed coffin, waiting to be lowered into the ground. “Nobody’s here. Besides, what would you know about relationships? You killed Dad because he didn’t like your stupid cats.”

Ginger gasped. “I don’t believe this. I know you never liked me, but why would you make such an accusation?”

“Dad told you it was either him or the cats. You couldn’t have them both.”

“Now that was a dumb thing for him to say. Who would take care of him? He couldn’t walk after his stroke.”

“I could have taken care of him. He was all I had after Mom died.”

“You couldn’t have given him the care he needed, not with school, your other obligations, and, not to mention, your social life.”

“Dad could have gone to the adult day care program at the senior center while I was in school.”

“You’re not even an adult. What do you know about such things?”

“I looked it up on the Internet last year after Dad had the stroke,” said Anna, her voice breaking. She wiped an eye with her sleeve. “I didn’t think you were going to stick around. I should have known better. You married him for his money, and you were hoping he would take out a life insurance policy. That’s the only reason why you didn’t hit the road when you found out Dad couldn’t use his left arm or leg.”

“How did you know about that?”

 

“How could I not know what you two were fighting about? You were so loud I could hear you clear upstairs in my room. You thought I was doing my homework. Well, I was until I heard you and Dad start yelling. Then I had to know what was going on. I heard everything from the second floor landing, and you didn’t even know I was there. This was before Dad’s stroke. He should have picked you up and thrown you out the front door, then tossed your cats out after you.”

Ginger grasped Anna’s shoulders and turned the girl to face her. “I’m your guardian now. So, don’t you dare talk ill of me or my kitties.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s another fight I overheard. You wanted Dad to fix his will so you would get custody of me if something happened to him  before I became an adult and that  money in the trust fund he set up for me would go to you until I’m twenty-one. That’s the only reason you’re my guardian.”

“I swear to God, Anna, if you say one more word, I’ll smack you.”

“With what? That hammer you knocked yourself out with after you shot Dad.” Ginger released her hold on Anna and stepped back. “Don’t think I didn’t know about that, too. Who do you think emptied the litter box the next day?”

“Now you decide to help with housework.”

“The next afternoon when I came home from Lauren’s slumber party, the smell from that litter box in the kitchen was enough to make me gag. When I picked it up and emptied it into the wastebasket, the gun and hammer fell out along with the jewels you told the police the thief stole.”

“I was planning to empty the litter box in the dumpster.”

“I’ve watched enough of those cop shows to know not to touch evidence with my bare hands. I went in the bathroom and found the gloves you used to clean Dad up after he pooped. I put them on and picked up the gun, hammer, and jewels and put them in a plastic bag. When I walked into the living room, I wasn’t surprised not to see Dad in his recliner. I went to your room. Dad’s side of the bed was empty, and there you were, with all ten of those cats you got at the shelter after you married him. You opened your eyes and started crying and told me this sad story about a robber breaking into the house, knocking you out, and shooting Dad. I got you a cold compress for your head and told you I was meeting Lauren downtown.”

“I thought you were a typical teenager. Your father dies, and you go shopping.”

“I went straight to the police station. That detective who came to the house when you called didn’t know I existed. You told him you had a daughter who was going to school at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, and when he called up there to find her, he was told there was no such student there.”

Ginger sighed.

“He told me the whole story once he pieced it together. He was really nice and said he was sorry I lost my dad. He also said he didn’t think you were a flight risk since you were expecting to inherit Dad’s estate. So, he’ll wait to arrest you until after the funeral.”

“We don’t have to wait any longer,” said a voice behind Ginger. She turned to see the two officers who responded to the 911 call. Next to them stood two gentlemen in suits and ties.

One of them extended his hand. “Mrs. Lloyd, I’m Jake Jones with Teggler & Associates. I’m afraid I have more bad news. I’m sorry you weren’t home when I came by to see your husband after his stroke. His life insurance policy only covers accidental death.”

“But a burglar…”

“Now Mrs. Lloyd, we all know that’s not the case,” said one of the officers, placing a hand on Ginger’s shoulder.

The other man in a suit and tie took Ginger’s hand. “I met you a while back, Mrs. Lloyd. I’m Ken Sherman. I was your husband’s lawyer. Before Anna’s mother died, she and my wife were really good friends. We had an appointment this afternoon to go over your husband’s will, but it looks like you won’t be able to make that, so I’ll just tell you this. You weren’t home when everything was finalized after your husband’s stroke. So, here’s the deal. Everything your husband owned will go to Anna when she’s twenty-one. In the meantime, I’ve been named executor of your husband’s estate. The will also stipulates that in the event that anything should happen to him before Anna turns twenty-one, my wife and I will become her legal guardians.”

“No!” screamed Ginger, as she turned and tried to flee. But the two policemen grabbed her. As she was handcuffed and led away, Anna knelt by her father’s casket and let her tears flow while the lawyer who would now be her guardian tried to console her.

***

Note: The above story appears in the spring issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, which can be read here.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

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?

***

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Ode to a Recliner #OpenBookBlogHop #Inspiration #WritingPrompts

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Do you have a favorite piece of furniture? Take a picture. Show and tell!

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Well, with my limited vision, if I were to show, it would look like something the cat dragged in, and I don’t have a cat. Besides, I don’t think a cat could drag in this or any piece of furniture. So, I’ll do my best to describe it.

My late husband Bill’s recliner is brown with a pocket on one side. It has two buttons: one that will allow me to lie almost all the way down and one that will let me sit up, almost to a standing position. After Bill suffered his first stroke, we were able to purchase the recliner with the help of Medicare, and being able to get him almost to a standing position made it easier for me to transfer him from it to his wheelchair. He once proclaimed that when he was in his recliner, he was king of the mountain.

Now that Bill is gone, it’s my recliner. I should feel guilty because surely there’s someone else who needs such a chair more than I do. But I may eventually need it. So, I’ll hold onto it for as long as I can.

Several years ago, I wrote a poem about this recliner, which appears in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. By the way, this and two of my other books are now available from Smashwords absolutely free as part of its end-of-year sale. Please see below for details.

Anyway, here’s the poem. You can click below to hear me read it.

 

Ode to a Recliner

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2014

You once belonged to him.
Feeling his presence,
I sink into your depths,
lower my head, raise my feet,
listen to books, podcasts,
radio programs, sometimes doze.
Your embrace gives me peace.

48 ode to a recliner

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How about you? What’s your favorite piece of furniture? You can tell me about it in the comment field below or click here to participate in this week’s hop and read what other bloggers have to say.

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Now, I have two exciting events to announce, and I hope you’ll be able to take advantage of both of them. First of all, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, The Red Dress, and My Ideal Partner are now absolutely free as part of the Smashwords end-of-year sale, which will run until December 31st. You can click here for more information and to download these books.

 

Also, I’ll be playing the piano and singing on Thursday, December 23rd, at noon mountain time at The Hub, here in Sheridan, Wyoming. If you live in my neck of the woods, you’re welcome to come and enjoy a delicious, nutritious lunch while listening to my music. If you’re unable to attend, you can view the event on Facebook, and a recording should be available later. You can click here to visit the event’s Facebook page. Again, I hope you can take advantage of these exciting events.

 

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

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?

***

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Hunting and Pecking #It’sSix-SentenceStoryThursdayLinkUp #Excerpt

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

This week’s six-sentence prompt word is “method.” Below, I’ve copied a passage of exactly six sentences from my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. Here, I show my late husband Bill using his computer for the first time in months since his first stroke. After powering up the machine, I stood nearby in case he was unsure of what to do. But as you’ll note, there are some things you don’t forget, even after you’ve had a stroke.

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To my astonishment, after the Windows welcome screen and then the desktop came up, and the screen reader indicated it was ready, he went straight to his music folder and found “I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You.”

I hugged him, and for the first time since his stroke, we snuggled while listening to the song, with him sitting in his wheelchair and me standing next to him. It wasn’t the same as cuddling on the couch together, but it was the closest we could come, and this time of loving each other was the first of many.

When the song ended, he said, “I’ll do email now.”

I left him and spent the next couple of hours in my office. As I worked, I was comforted by the distant sound of the synthetic text–to–speech voice on his computer, reading his email and saying the characters he typed. Even though he needed to use the hunt and peck method with his only good hand, this felt right.

This was in 2006. A couple of years later, we found software that allowed Bill to send email via voice recordings. If you’d like to know more, you can read My Ideal Partner.

Thanks to Girlie on the Edge for inspiring this. If you’d like to participate in this week’s hop and read other people’s six-sentence stories, click here.

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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.

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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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