Copyright 2011 by Abbie Johnson Taylor
Independently published with the help of iUniverse
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.
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.
A Caregiver’s Gift: A Unique Book of Poetry
by Carrie Hooper
I recently read Abbie Johnson Taylor’s book, How to Build A Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, published by iUniverse Inc. in 2011. I met Abbie in 2005 through Newsreel, a magazine produced by and for the blind. She and I are members of Behind Our Eyes, a writers group for people with disabilities. I have had the pleasure of reading several of her essays, stories, and poems on the group’s email list, and I also read her book, That’s Life. I always love to read her work, and How to Build A Better Mousetrap, a collection of sixty-eight poems, was no exception.
The book consists of four sections. In Part 1, “On Being A Family Caregiver,” Abbie reflects on caring for her husband, Bill, who suffered two strokes which paralyzed his left side. Abbie’s use of the future tense when describing the events surrounding Bill’s first stroke, give the opening poem a potency it would have lacked had Abbie simply related the story in the present tense. She seems to sense the impending tragedy. I felt Abbie’s frustration as she struggled to dress Bill, and I could relate to her computer problems. I chuckled at her humorous account of a romantic moment, interrupted by nature’s call. Abbie’s love for Bill permeates the poems in this section. She rises above despair and completes all tasks without complaint.
Part 2, “Recollections,” offers scenes from Abbie’s childhood and adulthood: a family picnic, a road trip with her father, unforgettable audio at a writers’ conference, etc. The poem, “Junior High,” reminded me of my middle school days. I could hear the humming of the buses, the bells, and the slamming lockers.
Part 3, “Reflections,” covers a variety of topics: a trip to Florida to escape Wyoming’s winter, a spring stroll, favorite foods, a driving mishap, and much more. I especially liked the poem, “I Admire My Handiwork,” in which Abbie contrasts a poem shaped like a Christmas tree with her attempt in fifth grade to make a Christmas tree with soda can lids on felt. Part 4, “Aging,” treats the challenges of aging and requiring care. I found the poems in this section poignant, especially “Reta’s Song” and “I Remember.”
I would recommend Abbie’s book even to those who don’t normally read poetry. Her poems are easy to understand. They are verbal snapshots which engage the senses and touch the heart.
Thanks to friend and author Carrie Hooper for a wonderful review. Reviews are important to authors because they can boost sales. If you read any of my books, please leave a review where you bought it and/or on GoodReads. Alternatively, you can use the contact form here to email me your review, and I’ll be glad to post it for you on that book’s page on this site and on my blog. Thank you.
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Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography
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