Forever is Never Too Long

Thanks to Rhonda Partain for inspiring this. I believe that if you truly love someone, forever is never too long.

Most marriages aren’t fraught with the turmoil that ours was. When my late husband Bill and I were married in the fall of 2005, I was in my forties, and he was nineteen years my senior. Three months after our wedding, Bill suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side. A year later, he suffered another stroke, just as we were thinking maybe he’d get back on his feet again. That never happened.

For six years, I cared for him at home. With the use of only one arm and leg, he could do little for himself. Nevertheless, I loved him, and it never crossed my mind to leave him and find another. I would have cared for him for another twenty years, but in the fall of 2012, he started to decline, and it became difficult for me to lift him. I had to move him to a nursing home where he died a month later. You can read more about this in My Ideal Partner.

Some young people nowadays look on marriage as if they were buying a car. They move in together so they can test-drive the relationship. I don’t have a problem with this, but years after they’ve decided they’re right for each other, they toss the marriage aside like an old car that is no longer of use to them. Not only is this heartbreaking for the parties involved, but it’s also not fair to any children they may have had during that time. These children didn’t choose to be born and deserve a stable family environment.

If a spouse is abusive or unfaithful, that’s one thing, but simply falling out of love with your significant other should never happen. If you’re considering marriage, be sure. Be very sure you two are compatible and that you really want to spend the rest of your lives together. A marriage isn’t a car. You can’t trade it in for another model when you get tired of it. If you truly love the one you want to marry, forever will never be too long.

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I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.

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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.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

A Plantain is Not the Same Thing as a Banana: Merging Family Menus

by N. M. Cedeno

My husband got lucky in food when he married me. He didn’t have to adapt to a foreign flavor palette the way I did. When people create a new joint household, whether they like it or not, the foods they eat regularly will change depending on each family member’s culinary history. Recipes from each side of the family will get adopted, adapted, or eliminated from the household menu depending on how flexible the couple is and how palatable each finds the other’s food to be. While regional differences between couples can expose variations in traditional holiday meal dishes or recipe ingredients, cultural differences can introduce you to cooked critters you didn’t know anyone would eat.

Cultural differences can make the culinary learning curve particularly steep, a baptism by fire even. For instance, before I met my husband, I’d never had a plantain. Or seco de pollo. Or, ick, guatita. Or even weirder, cuy. If you can’t identify those items, they are traditional foods in Ecuador. My husband, on the other hand, had never had kolaches, homemade chocolate chip cookies, or Southern-style white gravy. I had to learn a lot about South American cooking. My husband, as far as I could tell, got off easy, since he’d lived in Texas for over ten years by the time we married and had been exposed to most of my cuisine.

Maduros with brown sugar

As I suspect happens in many cases, the first of my husband’s family’s dishes that got adopted in our household were the ones that I found the tastiest and that had the least ingredients. Consequently, plantain dishes were first. Plantains, despite looking like bananas, taste nothing like bananas. They must be cooked. You can eat them roasted, mashed, formed into balls, thin-cut as chips, thick-cut and fried as maduros, or fried, flattened, and refried as a tostones (also called patacones). It took me a while to learn to cook the variations.

On the next tier are foods that may take longer for the couple to adopt in their joint kitchen because they involve special techniques, or complicated recipes, or need adaptation from the original to work best in the household. Seco de pollo is one of those dishes in my house. Translated from Spanish, it sounds like it should be dry chicken. It’s not. It’s a chicken stew. It took me years before I attempted to make it because the recipe was complicated and included a few ingredients that I didn’t recognize. But, since I liked the dish, I made the effort to find the ingredients and to learn to cook it.

Two traditional Ecuadorean dishes that my husband likes were extremely outside my experience and tastes. In the melding of our family menus, these dishes got eliminated.  One was guatita, which is tripe in peanut sauce. Enough said about that. The other was cuy. Cuy got tossed because most Americans would consider eating cuy to be akin to eating your pet hamster or, well, your pet guinea pig. Cuy is, indeed, guinea pig. Any dish that I’d have to shop for in a pet store, I’m not cooking. Someone would send the SPCA after me.

{Guinea pig is a traditional food source for the indigenous tribes inhabiting the Andes Mountains. Since guinea pigs are an easily portable protein source, they were an ideal food for the environment. If you are wondering, they are roasted with the head still attached. I took this picture of cuy being cooked in Ecuador. Yes, it looks like a rat impaled on a stick.}

 

So, cohabitation forces a merging of disparate family culinary habits. What gets kept on the household menu and what gets eliminated can depend on a lot of factors. I’m sure you can all think of items that you were only served at the home of one set of grandparents (sauerkraut, anyone?). Those items didn’t make it into your parent’s family menu. What dishes did your parents toss? What items did you toss? What items did you adapt or argue over the “correct” recipe?

 

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N. M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her début novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).

Find her stories at www.nmcedeno.com or on her Amazon Author Page.

Oh my, Valentine!

Cole Smith

 

 

Have you ever wondered about the origins of Valentine’s Day? Where did our favorite romantic holiday find its many symbols–the pink and red, the cards, the sweets, and the hearts? Is it really, as some suggest, a holiday cooked up by greeting card companies?

 

Valentine’s Day is an old holiday, with roots extending all the way back to third-century Rome and a Roman Catholic presbyter named Valentinus. Most of the facts have been lost to history, and all we really know for certain is that Valentinus was martyred and buried in a cemetery on the Via Flaminia. His alleged skull, ringed with a crown of flowers, is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. It’s both creepy and Valentine’s-y, no?

 

 

Valentine's Key

 

Legend has it that on the night before he was to be martyred, Valentine sent a card to the daughter of his prison guard, for whom he’d performed a healing miracle. He signed the card “your Valentine”. Did that simple letter start the tradition of sending cards with the words “from your Valentine”? We can’t know. Some sources claim this young woman planted an almond tree on Valentine’s grave. Its pink blossoms have endured as a symbol of love and friendship.

 

Probably, the St. Valentine we remember on February 14th is a composite of two or three men named Valentine, who were all active in the church at that time. There are many unverified legends associated with this figure. One is that he performed secret weddings for active military soldiers who were forbidden to marry during times of conflict. (It’s been argued Claudius never issued such a ban.)

 

Soldiers who were keen to marry their sweethearts in a holy Christian ceremony would recognize Valentine by the amethyst Cupid ring he wore. Since Cupid was an approved symbol of love during the marriage ban, the ring was a safe secret sign. It’s probably one reason the amethyst became the February birthstone, since it’s believed by some to attract love!

 

Another legend is that Valentine also cut parchment paper hearts and presented them to soldiers and other persecuted Christians as a reminder to uphold their serious vows and to remember the greatest love from Heaven.

 

 

Oh, Valentine!

 

 

It wasn’t until Chaucer published the Parlement of Foules in the fourteenth century that St. Valentine’s Day became associated with “courtly love”, and many of the traditions we celebrate today. That’s right, writers. Chaucer and his following created a holiday. Now that’s the power of a great story!

 

Romantic courtiers started to apply themselves to Valentine’s poems. The now-cheesy “Roses are red…” line first showed up in 1590, in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen!

 

 

Be My Valentine!

 

It didn’t take long to match sweet words with sweet treats, and the Cadbury candy company claims credit for making the first heart-shaped box of chocolates in 1868. Mass-marketed paper valentines showed up around 1847. And so it goes, even today.

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or Pal-entine’s Day, I wish you all the joy, sweets, and sentiment the holiday has to offer. What’s the best valentine you’ve ever received?

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Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.

Let’s get social! Find me on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

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How I Fell in Love with My Ideal Partner by Abbie Johnson Taylor

In the winter of 2002, I was single and living here in Sheridan, Wyoming.  A couple of months after subscribing, I decided to pose a question on Newsreel, an audio magazine where people with visual impairments could share ideas and music and trade or sell items. Being a writer who attended workshops away from my computer on a regular basis, I wanted to know if there was any way to transfer a document from a braille note-taker to my computer. At the time, most note[takers didn’t use standard word processing formats, so the answers I received weren’t satisfactory.

 

One of these came from Bill Taylor, who lived in Fowler, Colorado, where he grew up and where he owned a computer store for twenty years. I don’t remember his answer, but I do recall him asking me about my writing. I responded that I wrote fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and that I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. He then wrote back and said his mother lived in a nursing home. We had a little something in common.

 

Over the next couple of years, we corresponded, mainly by email but occasionally by phone. He’d downloaded over a hundred songs on his computer, and he sent me some of these on cassettes. I emailed him some of my writing. In the spring of 2003, when I started work on my first novel, We Shall Overcome, I sent him chapters, and he responded with feedback.

 

In the spring of 2004, on our way to visit my brother and his family in New Mexico, my father and I decided to stop in Fowler to see Bill, although it was a bit out of the way. Bill and I visited for about half an hour, and I discovered that he, like me, was a fan of Dr. Pepper. The following December, we returned, on our way to New Mexico for Christmas, and took Bill out to breakfast. At that time, he suggested we kiss under the mistletoe in his living room, but I thought he was joking.

 

In January of 2005, I received a braille letter from him in the mail and the shock of my life when I read it. He was asking me to marry him. At first, I thought he wanted me to move to Fowler, an idea I didn’t like, since I’d lived in Sheridan for years and wasn’t about to start from scratch in a new town. However, when I spooke to him on the phone after receiving his letter, he told me he wanted to move to Sheridan. He was tired of his home town, where there wasn’t much to do. Although I still didn’t know if I loved him, this was definitely a game-changer.

 

A couple of months later, he came to Sheridan to visit and proposed to me officially at a restaurant in the presence of family and friends. Something clicked, and I said yes.

 

In July, he moved to Sheridan, and I quit my job at the nursing home. In September, we were married. I wish I could say that was the end, and we’re still living happily ever after, thanks to Newsreel, but that was not to be.

 

In January of 2006, Bill suffered a stroke that confined him to a wheelchair. He spent nine months in the same nursing home where I’d worked, and I brought him home in September of that year. We’d hoped he would be back on his feet some day, but in January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke, not as severe, but bad enough to set him back to the point where he could never walk again. I cared for him at home until he passed in October 2012.

 

Despite the trials and tribulations of him only having the use of one arm and leg and me being his caregiver, most of our time together was happy, and we both looked forward to the arrival of Newsreel each month, first through the mail on cassette, then via digital download. You can read our complete story in a memoir I published in 2016, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

 

If I hadn’t met Bill, I probably would still be working forty-hour weeks in the nursing home and may not have published four books. If not for Newsreel, I wouldn’t have met Bill. I hope this audio publication continues for at least another sixty years.

 

Now it’s your turn. How did you meet your ideal partner? Was it love at first site, or did it take a while? Maybe the song you hear when you click below will inspire you. It’s one I wanted to sing at my wedding but didn’t think I could.

 

Annie’s Song

 

I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.

 

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.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

It Was Lovely

0kathy-blog

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Posted by Kathy Waller


This week my husband and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. We both started out late, and we’re rather pleased with ourselves for completing our first decade together. In honor of the event, I’m posting a piece that appeared several years ago on my personal blog.

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k-and-d-church-2I once heard my great-aunt say to a minister, “I’m ninety-six years old, and that was the loveliest wedding I’ve ever attended.”

This was not about the wedding. It was about her being ninety-six and still youthful and beautiful. She wanted credit.

Well. I am fifty-two, and mine was the loveliest wedding I have ever attended.

That is about the wedding.

It was lovely.

First, the rehearsal. I didn’t bother to pay attention. I was wearing a lovely new green dress and jacket and the tanzanite necklace that David had given me, and I assumed that somebody else would tell me what to do when the time came. I also assumed that David would be nervous and might get something wrong before I did.

The minister said wedding rehearsals were the only time he could feel like a football coach, with a chart with little Xs and Os, telling people where to go. He complained that I’d done such a thorough job of writing it all out for him, he felt like a coach who had to use someone else’s plays.

Well. I have directed two one-act plays and two class plays and have helped with a number of proms and graduations. I’m good. And I can’t turn it off that easily. Anyway, if you want something done right…

The rehearsal dinner was at El Mercado, and the staff remembered that we were coming, which was a relief. I’d called several times to remind them, and the manager was beginning to sound fatigued.

I presented the boys in the wedding party with watches and the girls with pieces of china that Mother’s youngest sister gave me when I was in my teens. David presented all the children with water pistols. Guess which gift went over big. There were pistols left over so David also presented them to several adults. Because these particular adults are just tall children, things ran amok.

It was lovely.

Our families sat together and talked to each other and behaved as if they were enjoying themselves. Four of David’s five brothers came, with two nephews (eight and three years) and a three-year-old niece. The eight-year-old was an usher, along with my pre-teen great-niece and -nephew. I had nine- and ten-year-old great-nieces at the guest book.

Having children involved takes a lot of pressure off the bride and groom because everyone watches the kids.

Of course, my eighteen-month-old namesake toddled around in the aisle with her sippy cup before things started and then jabbered so loudly that she and her mother got to spend most of the ceremony outside.

Now the service. The first thing on the program was music: two songs David chose and burned onto a CD: “The Alphabet Song” and “La Vie en Rose.” The bridesmaids stood shoulder to shoulder in the foyer and swayed back and forth as people looked over their shoulders and smiled.

Then my trained soprano sang “Simple Gifts” and, later, “The Prayer Perfect.” I went to the trouble and expense of finding and hiring a glorious voice, and afterward nobody could talk about anything except “‘A’ – You’re adorable…,” which cost David the price of a blank CD. Go figure.

But starting off that way made everyone relax, and that took a lot of pressure off, too. And not every bride gets to have Jo Stafford sing at her wedding.

It was lovely.

Wilson Wade, a former pastor at my church in Fentress, read 1st Corinthians 13:1-13, Shakespeare’s “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment,” and a passage from The Little Prince. This part was called “Kathy Has a Captive Audience and They Don’t Get Ice Cream Until They’ve Been Properly Edified.” I like words–so sue me.

It was lovely.

My cousins Lynn and Mary Veazey and my friend Maryellen were attendants. They wore dresses of their own choosing. When your bridesmaids range from fifty to sixty-eight years in age, you don’t put them in apricot taffeta with puff sleeves. Actually, I thought having attendants at all at my age was pushing things a bit, but these are my dearest friends, and they were as excited as the children.

And they were lovely.

Pictures took too long and were a pain. If I had it to do over, I’d lump everybody together and have one big photo taken, then have the photographer take candids at the reception. She did get some good shots. We forgot to give out the disposable cameras we’d bought for the children. Of course. Actually, I was so tired by that time that I look in the pictures just like I felt.

But the photos are lovely.

Flowers were lovely. My bouquet was HEAVY. I had no idea the load brides have to carry. Most of them are probably sensible and carry mostly baby’s breath, but no, I had to have FLOWERS. I carried it to Smitty’s Barbecue the next day for lunch with my family–milking it for all it was worth–and it held up well in the refrigerator for quite a while.

The reception was lovely. Except it didn’t go as planned. I was going to be Hyacinth Bucket and float from table to table being gracious, but I got stuck at one end of the room and never made it to any tables at all, including the food. Which is where I really wanted to go. I also never got out of my strappy little sandals that looked so lovely with my dress and cut into my feet like piano wire.

I’d planned to get the little girls together and throw the bouquet. But I figured if my aim was off, it could send a child to the emergency room for stitches and me to court for some kind of negligence. So we said good-bye and then just hung around, and I ate brownies and cheese and dropped a blueberry on that white lace dress while my darling relatives put up tables and chairs and swept the fellowship hall.

They really are nice. Lovely people.

At some point the minister came over and said they’d finished getting the pulpit and such back in place and all we had to do was clear our stuff out of the choir room. He also said he had the license ready to mail and that he would mail it. The certificate has arrived, so I suppose we’re legal.

Now all I have to do is figure out what my name is. I think David and I should alphabetize together–that’s the librarian thinking. But if I’m not careful, I could lose my both my middle- and surname and end up Mary Davis, who was my great-great-something-grandmother. David said it was okay for me to keep Waller. After all this time, it’s hard to give it up. But I would like to take his name. He called one of the caterers a couple of days after the wedding, then reported, “I told them I’m your husband.” His expression suggested he’d done something revolutionary.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, I think. I learned so much that it’s a shame we can’t do this every year or so. Among the lessons:

1. Wedding cake is not necessary. People like brownies and ice cream sundaes better.

2. It doesn’t matter what they tell you at the rehearsal–you’re going to get the hands wrong anyway. David said his brother kept hissing, “Turn, turn!” but David thought he shouldn’t and he didn’t and we ended up married anyway.

3. It is possible–and amusing–to make your matron of honor laugh just before she’s supposed to walk down the aisle. Lynn and I both collapse into giggles when one of us says, “Fourscore…”–after Mayor Shinn in The Music Man vainly attempting to recite the Gettysburg Address at the July 4th celebration. While we were lined up waiting for Wilson to finish reading, I handed Lynn a note–in large font to make sure she could read it without glasses–that said “FOURSCORE…” If I’d waited until we were at the altar, as I’d planned, she would have broken up the ceremony. If I hadn’t done it at all, she’d have sobbed through it.

4. If you want an elegant, solemn, sophisticated wedding–get over it. People would rather hear “The Alphabet Song.”

5. If you marry a twin, there will be confusion. Two of my friends walked up and said, “HI, DAVID!” and I had to tell them that they’d just greeted the best man.

6. Children like water guns but will not use them on formal occasions unless they see adults using them first.

7. If you’re getting married in Texas in June, pray for rain so the long-sleeved dress you bought in February will not fry you. Also, get to the church early and crank the thermostat down as far as you think you can get away with. Buy the shoes you know you should buy, not the ones the dress store lady says you should buy.

8. You can control a wedding, but receptions get away from you.

9. Do not move your furniture into your apartment ten days before your wedding and seven days before your prospective in-laws are expected to descend. If you break this rule, you have a choice–work ’round the clock to get things in place so they will think their brother is marrying a person of quality, or let them walk around the boxes. I chose the former. They now think their brother has married a person of quality who is ‘way behind on her Geritol.

(Seriously, I didn’t completely crash until the day after the wedding.)

10. It’s a lot easier for the bride and groom to get away with a light touch when they’re geriatric. If I’d married when I was twenty, I’d have been a wreck. Instead, I had fun.

And it was lovely.

*****

Kathy blogs at To Write Is to Write Is to Write.

Visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/kathy.waller68

What is Love? by Abbie

Displaying abbie profile.JPGThis Post by Abbie Taylor

When my late husband Bill proposed to me, it was a complete shock. For two years after meeting through a magazine, we’d carried on a long distance relationship via e-mail and phone. He lived in Fowler, Colorado, 500 miles away from my hometown of Sheridan, Wyoming. I thought he just wanted to be friends so when I received that Braille letter in January of 2005, I didn’t know what to think.

Although I’d had friendly relationships with men over the years, none were romantic, and no man ever proposed marriage. When I read Bill’s words, “Dear Abbie, I’m writing to ask for your hand in marriage,’” I felt as if my world had been hit by a tsunami.

At first, I thought Bill wanted me to move to Fowler, Colorado. I wasn’t about to pull up roots and start over in a new town where I didn’t know anyone. I was relieved when Bill told me on the phone the day after I received his letter that he wanted to move here to Sheridan. However, I still didn’t know if I wanted to marry him.

I wrote a poem, asking what it’s like to be loved. I later learned the answer, and the following poem will appear in my chapbook, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems which will be published by Finishing Line Press in August.

WHAT IS LOVE?

 being warmed from within by another,

having someone with whom to share dreams,

a soothing voice that comforts you,

gentle hands that smooth life’s hardships,

strong arms that hold you close,

lips that bring you pleasure.

Love is a heart that’s yours forever.

 

Displaying abbie wedding.jpgBill and I were married on September 10th, 2005. Despite his two strokes and the fact that I cared for him at home during most of our married life, we had seven happy years together before he died on October 30th, 2012. How did you feel when your spouse proposed to you?

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of:

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

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Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Visit my blog.

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems 

Pre-order That’s Life today!