You Light Up My Life #Monday Musical Memories

After my family moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in the 1970’s, I entered a talent contest every year. The Stars of Tomorrow show was usually held in February. Prizes in first, second, and third place were awarded in three age groups: elementary, junior high, and high school. When I performed, I accompanied myself on the piano.

⠠⠔ 1974 when I was in the sixth grade, I sang “El Condor Pasa” by Simon and Garfunkel. I didn’t win but didn’t let that keep me from entering every year after that until my sophomore year when I sang “You Light Up My Life” and won first place. Since there were only two other contestants in that division besides me, I figured I would win something, but I never expected to win first place.

I still remember that night. They always announced the third and second-place winners first. After the other two contestants received their third and second-place trophies, the realization hit me. It was all I could do to contain myself. When my name was finally called, despite my limited vision, I sprinted across the stage to receive my prize.

I was then entitled to enter the state competition, held that year in Powell, a five-hour drive across the mountains. This contest only had two divisions, representing each of two parts of the state, with three prizes awarded in each division. My division had a lot more than three contestants, and the competition was stiff. I didn’t win, but like all other contestants, I received a trophy for participating. I still felt like a star.

The song, “You Light Up My Life,” played an important role in my adulthood as well. One year, after my late husband Bill suffered two paralyzing strokes, and I became his caregiver, I gave him a special Valentine gift. It was a doll wearing a red dress. When her hand was squeezed, she sang “You Light Up My Life.” I should have played the piano and sung him the song instead, and I eventually did. But every night before we went to bed, I would squeeze the doll’s hand, and as she sang the song, we would embrace and kiss. It was our nightly routine for a long time.

Bill did light up my life, and I didn’t realize it until after he was gone. Even when he could no longer use his left side, he lit up my days. Although he couldn’t sing, he filled my nights with song. I was drifting at sea until he told me he loved me and pulled me to shore.

Sometimes, you don’t know a good thing until it comes along, then leaves you. Bill was that good thing. Now, I’ll sing the song the way I did the night I won first place in the Stars of Tomorrow contest.

you light up my life

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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A Compelling Look at Firefighting and Inner-City Culture #Thursday Book Feature

Beneath the Flames

by Gregory Lee Renz

Copyright 2019

 

Mitch is a farmer and a volunteer firefighter in a rural Wisconsin town. After a devastating fire, he falls into a deep depression, harboring guilt that he didn’t do more to save a child who died in the flames. Then 9/11 happens. After seeing news reports about heroics of firefighters at Ground Zero in New York City, he decides to leave his family’s farm and become a firefighter in Milwaukee.

After a grueling training process and being assigned to an inner-city district, he becomes embroiled in the culture of poverty, drugs, and gang violence. When he’s not fighting fires and socializing with new friends, he tutors inner-city children who come to the fire station every day and helps out at a nearby school. After his father suffers a debilitating stroke, Mitch must decide between continuing to work in Milwaukee or returning to the farm.

As a retired fire captain, Gregory Lee Renz uses his experiences to craft a compelling, yet satisfying story of loss and renewal that shuttles readers from a rural farm to an inner-city firehouse and places in between. From the first page, I was riveted. I usually don’t like violence in books, but throughout this story, I had a feeling things would work out. I like the way the author starts and ends with a fire. Reading this book not only gave me more of a perspective on firefighting, but it also made me grateful that the problems I face on a day-to-day basis are nothing compared to living in an inner-city or on a farm that’s about to be foreclosed.

 

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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The Sound of Music Medley #Monday Musical Memories

When I was in second grade, I was first introduced to The Sound of Music while hanging out at a friend’s house on weekends. Her family had the soundtrack, and we listened to it a lot. In fifth grade, I sang in the school choir, and we performed “Climb Every Mountain” for graduation. In seventh and eighth grade glee clubs, we used variations of “Doe Ray Me” to warm up before practicing songs we would perform.

When I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home, one resident liked to yodel. So, I sang “The Lonely Goat Herd” with her. I wasn’t the best yodeler, but she sang along with me and seemed to enjoy it.

A couple of years ago when I started entertaining at an assisted living facility on a regular basis, one lady told me she’d lived in Austria when they were filming The Sound of Music, and her favorite song was “Edelweiss.” So, I sang that song for her every time. She has since passed away, but I still perform the song there occasionally.

The Sound of Music was my late husband’s favorite. In My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, I describe the agonizing process of getting him to sing with me, which the speech therapist recommended. Before his strokes, he was a pretty good singer. But afterward, although he could intone the words in the right rhythm, he couldn’t carry the tune.

Now that he’s gone, I enjoy singing songs from The Sound of Music because it brings me closer to him. I hope you also enjoy my medley of songs from this precious musical. May your hills always be alive with the sound of music.

 

Sound of Music Medley

 

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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The Impossible Dream #Monday Musical Memories

The musical this song is from was one of my late husband Bill’s favorites. After he suffered his first stroke, and it was evident that he wouldn’t be walking anytime soon, I worked to achieve what some might consider an impossible dream, caring for him at home. It was hard work, learning to perform all of Bill’s personal care tasks, but I did it.

Meanwhile, he tried to reach his unreachable star, to walk again. He never reached that star, but I reached mine, caring for him at home for six years, almost until his last days. You can read more about this in my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

Susan Boyle’s beautiful rendition of this song brought all this to mind. I hope you find it as moving as I did.

 

How about you? Did you have a dream that you or anyone else thought was impossible? Did you achieve it?

 

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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Lay Down Your Weapons and Lie on the Couch #Essay

In my new novel, The Red Dress, my main character’s mother used to be a librarian before she developed Alzheimer’s and ended up in a nursing home. Now, she’s fond of correcting everyone’s grammar. When aides ask her if she’s ready to lay down, she says, “No, I want to lie down.”

When I was my late husband’s caregiver after he suffered two strokes, we would often have a similar conversation. He would say, “Can I lay down?”

I’d say, “No, I will lay you down. You can lie down, but you cannot lay down.” He’d only laugh, and the next time he was ready for a nap, the conversation would be repeated. He wasn’t losing his memory. He just loved getting my goat by using incorrect grammar. You can read more of our story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

The use of “lay” and “Lie” can be confusing. So, here’s one way to look at it. You can lay down your weapons, but if you want to take a nap, you need to lie on the couch.

 

! 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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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You #Monday Musical Memories

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

In February of 2005, a month after my late husband Bill, living in Fowler, Colorado, proposed to me, living here in Sheridan, Wyoming, he sent me a care package. This included, among the obligatory chocolates and other items, a cassette of love songs he’d downloaded from the Internet. This song was one of them.

I was amazed that a man wanted to spend his lifetime loving me. After Bill suffered his first stroke, the song inspired me to write a poem, which appears at the end of My Ideal Partner. You’ll find it below the video link and can click on the title to hear me read it.

This song would be easy for me to sing. But even now, almost seven years after his death, I tear up when I hear it. So, I’m not even going to try. But I think you’ll be moved, as I was, by this stunning duet performance. Although Bill is no longer with me, I’ll spend the rest of my life loving him. By the way, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds is still available free from Smashwords through Wednesday.

 

I WANT TO SPEND MY LIFETIME LOVING YOU – TINA ARENA DUET WITH MARC ANTHONY (YouTube)

THE RISE AND FALL OF MY ZORRO

 

With cape, hat, mask, rapier,
he rode out of the darkness.
“Take my hand. Dance with me,” he said,
“I want to spend my lifetime loving you,”
but happily–ever–after was not to be.
My hero fell and rose many times.
I felt the glory
until he fell for the last time.
Where there’s love, life begins again.
When life dies, love goes on.

 

***

How about you? Did your spouse have to convince you to marry? If you were the one proposing, how did you convince your spouse to marry you?

 

My Books

 

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

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

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

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The Defiant Mind #Thursday Book Feature

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke

by Ron Smith

Copyright 2016.

 

In this memoir, Canadian author and publisher Ron Smith describes what it was like for him to have and recover from a stroke. He starts by describing, in great detail, the day he had his stroke in November of 2012. He then discusses his hospitalization and recovery: how he re-learned to eat, walk, and perform other personal care tasks and how he developed friendships with his roommates and other patients in the hospital.

Because of his determination and by some miraculous twist of fate, he was able to go home for Christmas that year. He describes the period After that when he went through several more months of outpatient rehabilitation, then tried other treatments such as acupuncture and massage therapy.

Throughout the book, he describes the love and support from his wife and other family and friends he received during his recovery. He explains how not being able to eat right after the stroke triggered memories of a trip to Europe fifty years earlier when he nearly starved to death. He shares other memories brought on by his experiences after the stroke. He quotes other sources of information about strokes and provides a bibliography at the end of the book.

Having been a caregiver to my late husband Bill, who suffered two strokes, I agree with many of the points made in this book, including the fact that the system often gives up on stroke victims too soon. In Mr. Smith’s case, he only had about six months of rehabilitation before he was left to fend for himself. With Bill, therapists claimed he’d reached a plateau two months after his first stroke. When I brought him home, we tried two outpatient facilities. They both gave up on him after a few months. I don’t know about Canada, but part of the problem here in the U.S. is that Medicare and other insurance programs don’t cover therapy if progress isn’t being shown. There’s no coverage for therapy to maintain the strength you have once you reach a plateau. So, unless you can afford $70.00 or more per session, you’re out of luck.

I wish Ron Smith’s book had been around when Bill was alive. Maybe if Bill had read it, he would have been inspired to write about his own experiences, with my help, of course. I’d suggested it to him, but he hadn’t been interested. So, after he passed, I wrote My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, which is available from Smashwords free until the end of the month. I hope those who read both books will be encouraged, if they’ve suffered a stroke, or if they haven’t,  be persuaded to do all they can to prevent one. As Bill once said, strokes are no fun.

 

My Books

 

New: The Red Dress: A Novel

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

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.