Hope After Adversity #FridayFunReads #Fiction #Inspiration

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

 

How to Walk Away: A Novel

by Katherine Center

Copyright 2018.

 

What Amazon Says

 

From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes the instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018), an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best—a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

Given my experience with my late husband Bill, who was partially paralyzed by two strokes, I don’t think this book accurately portrays paralysis. Granted, in the hospital, the author shows Margaret learning to use a transfer board to move from her bed to her wheelchair, and she touches on how Margaret learns to perform certain tasks through physical and occupational therapy. But once Margaret is discharged from the hospital, other than a ramp being built to allow her easy access to her parents’ house, no mention is made of grab bars or other equipment she needs to help her accomplish daily living tasks.

Some authors might think this sort of thing could be left to the reader’s imagination. But some readers who are unfamiliar with paralysis might think it’s easy for people with no use of their legs to manage. However, as Margaret points out in the epilog, losing the use of her legs was the hardest thing for her. This could have been shown earlier in the book.

That having been said, I was hooked from the first page. I liked how the author drew me into Margaret’s story by telling it from her first-person point of view. I loved Ian and couldn’t help wondering what would have happened had Bill worked with a physical therapist like him soon after transferring to the nursing home to recuperate from his first stroke. If Bill were still alive and reading this, he could have identified with Margaret’s feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration during her recovery. If you like a sweet love story with a feel-good ending and no explicit descriptions of sex, you don’t want to walk away from this  book.

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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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Third Thursday Poets #WednesdayWords #WeeklySmile #Poetry

 

Attending my local poetry group’s monthly meetings always makes me smile. Most of the time, I’m inspired to write a poem, and we always have fun together.

The Third Thursday Poets started meeting in 2006 as a weekly class at the senior center. Having just started caring for my late husband at home after he suffered his first paralyzing stroke, writing poetry was a great way for me to deal with the stress of being a family caregiver. You can read more about my experiences in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. But I digress.

After the class ended in nine weeks, we decided to meet monthly at the same location. We’ve been meeting there ever since. When the COVID pandemic started, we met via phone conference until we could gather in person again. Members have come and gone, but the idea is still the same. Write, share, and have fun.

We each take turns running the meeting. Our facilitator begins with a prompt that we work with for about twenty minutes. Then, we each share what we’ve written. The facilitator then gives us a “homework assignment,” a suggested prompt for a poem we can bring to the next meeting. We spend the remainder of our time together critiquing poems we brought, some of which were inspired by the “homework assignment” from the previous meeting.

Last Thursday’s meeting was no different. Our facilitator asked us to pick a word from a list she gave us. We were then prompted to write down about three other words or phrases we associated with that particular word. We could then organize all that into a poem.

My chosen word was “meadowlark.” Below is what I came up with. You can click on the title to hear me read it.

 

Meadowlark

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2022.

It’s song rings out over the lake
on a sunny cloudless Wyoming afternoon,
as our boat glides through smooth waters.

Dad and younger brother try to fish
while Mother and I enjoy the bird’s song,
gentle breeze that carries with it
the scent of pine trees,
whiff of worms used for bait.

At the age of thirteen,
I know little about the meadowlark,
enjoy the boat’s gentle motion,
observe, with limited vision, the lake, grass, trees, sky,
happy in summer.

***

What made you smile in the past week? You can comment below or click here to participate in this week’s feature.

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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My Caregiving Journey #It’s Six-Sentence Story Thursday Link-Up

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

In January of 2006, three months after we were married, my late husband Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. After several months in a nursing home, therapists determined that he’d reached a plateau and there was nothing more they could do for him. I found a house that could be modified for a wheelchair, and, after the necessary renovations were completed, I brought Bill home in September of 2006. He started outpatient therapy at another facility, and we hoped he would eventually get back on his feet, but in January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke, not as severe. After a couple more months of inpatient rehabilitation, he came home and returned to the outpatient facility. One day in August, when he said the therapists had given up on him and he would never walk again, I resolved to take care of him for the rest of our lives, and what a journey that was!

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Thanks to Girlie on the Edge’s six-sentence story prompt for this week, which inspired the above. To learn how you can participate, click here. You can read more about my caregiving journey in My Ideal Partner, which, along with The Red Dress, is available for free this week from Smashwords. See below for details.

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I’m pleased to announce that from now until March 13th, The Red Dress and My Ideal Partner are available from Smashwords for free as part of Read an eBook Month. You can click here to download these books.

 

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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Hemorrhage #Poetry #Tuesday Tidbit

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Barely coherent, drenched in sweat, he lay on the floor. “What happened?” I asked. His response was unintelligible.

“I don’t need to go to the hospital,” he told the paramedics. “but if my wife wants me to go, I guess I will.”

“The stroke was caused by bleeding on the right side of his brain,” said the doctor. “He may need surgery.”

“In this case, surgery won’t help,” another doctor told us. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

“He’s not strong enough to participate in our rehabilitation program,” said the social worker. “He’ll have to go to a nursing home.”

“I don’t know how much you’ll recover or how long it will take,” a third doctor said. “Continue the therapy, and watch your blood pressure.”

“We’ll work on strengthening your legs and try to get you up and moving,” the therapist promised him.

“They’ve given up on me. I don’t think I’ll ever walk again.”

***

The above was recently published in The Writer’s Grapevine, a publication produced by TELL-IT-TO-THE-WORLD Marketing, containing prose, poetry, and advertisements. To subscribe, send a blank email to:  writersgv+subscribe@groups.io  This poem also appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. You can click the Play button below to hear me read it.

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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My Ideal Nursing Home #Wednesday Words

If I had unlimited funds to start and maintain a business, I would open a nursing home. But this wouldn’t be just any nursing home run by a corporation whose bottom line is money and not the elderly and infirmed residents who live there. In my facility, caring and not money would truly be the heart of the matter. My facility probably wouldn’t have the capacity that many large, corporate-run homes do, but with a smaller population and more staff members, each person could have more individual attention.

The facility would be all on one floor and divided into four or five units, each with the capacity of twelve residents. Each resident would have his or her own room with an attached bathroom that wouldn’t just contain a toilet and sink but also a roll-in shower. Each unit would have one tub room in case a person prefers a bath instead of a shower.

Each room would also have its own phone, and wireless Internet service would be readily available. Of course, many nursing home residents are unable to use the Internet, but for those few such as my late husband who would benefit, the service would be there. Family members could use it when they come to visit.

Each unit would have its own nurse’s station, dining room, and a lounge with recliners where residents could watch TV or just relax and read a book. Each recliner, like each room, would be outfitted with a call button to make it easier for residents to request assistance when necessary.

Residents would be able to choose what they want to eat each day. At mealtime, a menu would be given to them or read to them if necessary, and their choices would be served restaurant-style.

Residents suffering from dementia would be placed in a locked unit, no different from the others except that all staff working in this unit, including therapists and activity specialists, would have had specialized training in helping residents with dementia.

Of course, my facility wouldn’t have to be a permanent home. It would offer respite care and rehabilitation. The therapy department would have all the necessary equipment and even a swimming pool of no more than five feet, where residents could participate in water therapy and water exercise classes. There could even be a hot tub.

Last but not least, my facility would have a large, centrally located activity room. One half of the room would contain chairs and tables for bingo and social events. The other half would be open and used for church services and other group activities. Any resident from any unit would be able to attend any activity and be notified of events in advance.

Of course, money doesn’t grow on trees or flow freely from a stream. But isn’t it fun to dream of what you could do with a never-ending supply? If you’d like to know more about the nursing home where my late husband recovered from his strokes, you can read My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

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Thanks to Stevie Turner for inspiring the above post. In this week’s Open Book Blog Hop, she asks what kind of business you would start if you had unlimited funding. To learn how you can participate on your own blog, click here.

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.

***

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.