The Man on the Flying Trapeze

Abbie J. Taylor 010

Have you ever been to a circus, watched an aerialist, and wondered how they did it or thought, oh boy, I’m glad I’m not doing that. Well, believe it or not, my late husband Bill, after suffering two strokes that paralyzed his left side, flew through the air three days a week during the six years I cared for him at home. The following excerpt and poem from my new memoir explains how.


At first, Bill didn’t like the lift, because it suspended him in mid–air while he was transferred from the bed to the commode and vice versa. I almost laughed when I saw the process for the first time, because it reminded me of the song about the man on the flying trapeze. Because Bill had no vision, I could imagine how insecure he felt during the process. We kept reassuring him that he was securely fastened into the sling and wouldn’t fall, but after his first shower, he said, “I’m not using that damn lift again.”

I was flabbergasted. It had taken one month to get the lift, and another for the carpet in the bedroom to be replaced so it could be used. For two months, Bill traipsed back and forth to Eventide for his showers. I had to dress him every day, not just on the days when his showers at home weren’t scheduled. My own back was starting to bother me. I was ready for a break. “Please, honey, just try it for another week,” I said. “It takes some getting used to.”

“It’s not a problem,” said Bonnie, our case worker. “Jean said you can keep getting your showers at Eventide if you don’t want to use the lift.”

I wasn’t about to settle for that. Because Bill joked about girls seeing him naked, I got an idea. “Okay, honey, just imagine you’re naked on a flying trapeze in a big circus tent, and fifty women are in that tent who paid $50 each to see you naked on that flying trapeze, and you’re going to get all that money.”

It sounded outrageous, but it worked. After another week, he seemed happy as a clam, being propelled across the room, hanging in mid air.



Like the daring young man on the flying trapeze,

he glides through the air, smiles down on me.

I wink, say, “Bravo!”


We’re not in a circus but in our bedroom.

His left arm and leg useless,

a mechanical lift raises him off the bed,

propels him across the room,

lowers him to the commode, ready for the shower.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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10 thoughts on “The Man on the Flying Trapeze

  1. Abbie, I always enjoy your posts about the great love you and your husband had. It’s so imaginative and courageous to think of something to help your husband get over his fear of the lift. It worked because you made it work and because your husband finally found the courage to listen to you and give it a try. Your poem touched my heart – thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post. You were definitely creative in helping your husband deal with his fear of the lift. And I love the analogy that made it an adventure with humor. You both had great courage and love for each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think there must have been many days when humour got you both through some trying times, Abbie. I love the way you got his attention and co-operation. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Abbie, the special bond between you and Bill was precious. I love how you can bring such strong emotion from so few words. You are gifted, and you and Bill obviously shared a wonderful relationship. Thank you for sharing such a humorous, yet profound part of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

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