Today, I am delighted to welcome Abbie Johnson Taylor to Robbie’s Inspiration. I met Abbie through her contribution to an author collaboration called Understanding, edited by Stevie Turner and became interested in her story and her writing as a result. You can read my review of Understanding on Amazon US here: Review Understanding
Over to Abbie
Thank you, Robbie, for allowing me to be a part of your PoetryReadathon this month. “The Day My Husband Had a Stroke” details that fateful day when my late husband Bill suffered the first of two strokes that partially paralyzed his left side. This happened three months after we were married, and he was never able to walk again as a result.
I was inspired to write the poem one day while attending a regular meeting of my monthly poetry group. We were given a similar poem to use as a prompt. I don’t remember the name of the poem or poet, but I didn’t have to think twice about what I would write.
The Day My Husband Had a Stroke
It’s about a quarter to twelve on Saturday, January 28th, 2006.
I’m walking downtown where I’ll meet a friend for lunch.
Afterward, I’ll come home, finish laundry,
read a book, anticipate the spaghetti dinner he’ll fix later.
At four o’clock, I’ll listen to “A Prairie Home Companion.”
At six, I’ll meet others in my singing group at the Eagles Club
where we’ll perform for a wine tasting.
At seven, I’ll come home, expect to find supper on the table—
instead, he’ll be lying on the floor.
Our lives won’t be the same.
About Abbie Johnson Taylor
Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir and is working on another novel. Her work has appeared in The Avocet, Magnets and Ladders, and other publications. She is visually impaired and lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, she cared for her totally blind husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after they were married.
Before that, she worked as a registered music therapist in nursing homes and other senior facilities. She also facilitated a support group for visually impaired adults, taught braille, and served on the advisory board to a state trust fund used by visually impaired children and adults to purchase adaptive equipment. Please visit her website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
What Amazon says
In January of 2006, Abbie Johnson Taylor’s husband suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. After months of therapy in a nursing facility, he returned home in September of that year. Although he still had little use of his left arm and leg, it was hoped that through outpatient therapy, he would eventually walk again. In January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke that wasn’t as severe, but it was enough to impact his recovery. In August of that year, his therapy was discontinued because he showed no progress. He has never walked since. The first five poems tell the story of how Taylor found her husband when he suffered his first stroke, detail events in the first few months afterward, and describe Taylor and her husband’s reactions. The rest of the poems in the first part were inspired by Taylor’s experiences while caring for her husband. Covering such topics as dressing, feeding, toileting, their relationship, and his computer, they often provide a humorous outlook. Some poems are from the husband’s point of view. Poems in the next two parts cover childhood memories and other topics. The last section of poems was inspired by Taylor’s fifteen years of experience as a registered music therapist in a nursing home before marrying her husband.
How to Build a Better Mousetrap is a memorable book of poetry which covers two distinct time periods in the author’s life.
Part 1: On Being a Family Caregiver, revolves around the poet’s role as caregiver to her husband following his having two strokes, a year apart, and becoming partially paralysed.
The second section section of the book comprises of Part 2: Recollections, Part 3: Reflections and Part 4: In the End which describes through the medium of freestyle poetry, the various states of the poet’s life from her early childhood through to her old age. There is little mention throughout the book of the author’s visual impairment, but I am aware of it as I have previously read an anthology, Understanding edited by Stevie Turner, that disclosed this information.
The poetry in this book is compelling and quite fascinating in its honesty as the poet ventures to express feelings and emotions that many people might seek to hide. It is refreshing to read expressions of helplessness and even the occasional anger and resentment towards a set of circumstances that have so drastically and unexpectedly impacted on the poet’s life. These emotions are overwhelmed by the poet’s clear devotion and love for her partner.
These verses from three different poems in this collection illustrate this internal conflict:
“In the beginning, you knew all about me
which buttons to push,
how to hook me up,
install programs, fix problems.
Now, you hesitate,
push the wrong buttons.
When I don’t give you the desired response,
you beat my keyboard, proclaim I don’t work.”
From Before and After
“I open my eyes,
gaze upon his sweet sleeping face,
long to hold, kiss him,
caress his hair, his cheek.”
“I’ll never tell you you’re stupid
when you forget something or don’t understand.
I’ll never tell you you’re lazy
when you sit at the kitchen table in your wheelchair
while I fix dinner, clean up.
I’ll never tell you you’re a baby
when I must do most things for you.”
from Things I’ll Never Tell You
Purchase How to Build a Better Mousetrap
Thank you, Abbie, for participating in my Poetry Readathon.
More poetry next year
From January 2020, Kaye Lynne Booth and I will be hosting a new poetry series on Writing to be Read on the last Saturday of each month. The series will be called “Treasuring Poetry” and will be a platform where poets and poetry lovers can meet and greet each other, learn about each others poetry and poetry collections. We also plan to share the work of some of the great poets every quarter.
You can read more about this new monthly feature here: https://kayelynnebooth.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/a-look-at-the-evolution-and-future-of-writing-to-be-read/
Poetry sharing group on Facebook
I also host a poetry sharing group on Facebook where poets can share their work and meet other poets. You can join here: Poetry Sharing Group