Lessons Learned from Dad #MondayMusings #Inspiration

American writer and blogger Abbie remembers her father. A post we can all relate to.

My Corner

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.Today, my father would have been in his mid 80s. I’ve revised and am sharing a post that went live two months before he passed in 2013. Enjoy!

***

My fondest childhood memories are of Dad and me listening to music together. He loved to play the old standards on those scratchy long-playing records by such artists as Fats Waller and Nat King Cole. These songs taught me lessons that I’m pretty sure he wanted me to learn.

If “The Joint is Jumpin,” you’re going to get in trouble. No man will like you if “Your Feet’s Too Big.” You’d better “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” I also learned to appreciate “”Seafood, Mama” but not until I was an adult.

Dad also tried to teach me the value of money. He thought he’d succeeded until I sold my wheelchair accessible van after…

View original post 471 more words

Guest Post: Abbie Johnson Taylor

I am delighted to have received a guest post from American blogger and writer, Abbie Johnson Taylor.
It is a short story.

STARTING OVER

Shelby gazed out the kitchen window at the barn and surrounding landscape, covered in winter snow. More flakes were falling from an overcast sky, cascading in swirls of white. It felt so good to be home. She’d always loved her parents’ ranch in Wyoming, the wide open spaces, the livestock, the wildlife, even the harsh winters, and wished she hadn’t left after marrying Ian. As a matter of fact, she wished she hadn’t married Ian at all.

The kitchen door opened, and her father came in, stomping the snow off his boots and closing the door. “Boy, it’s really coming down out there,” he said, removing his gloves and stuffing them in his coat pockets.”

Shelby turned to him with a smile and said, “Well, the dishes are washed and put away, and the kitchen is as clean as I can get it. How else can I help?”

“Well, nothing else needs to be done right now,” he answered, removing his coat and hat and hanging them on nearby hooks. “Sit down. I’m gonna brew another pot of coffee, and we’re gonna talk.”

“What about?” she asked, taking a seat at the kitchen table.

She knew the answer to that question. The day before, after making the hasty decision to leave Ian and after not speaking to her father in months, she’d called him from the Los Angeles airport and given him her flight information. He’d asked no questions and promised to meet her at the airport in Sheridan. Her flight from Denver had been delayed due to inclement weather, and she’d arrived late the night before, but her father had been there when she’d gotten off the plane, and they’d ridden most of the fifty miles north to the ranch in silence. Now, he was ready for answers.

He said nothing, as he started the coffee pot, then took a seat at the table across from her. “Well, something tells me you didn’t just drop everything and come all the way back to Wyoming from California just to help your old man out, now that your mom’s gone. By the way, how’d you get that nasty bruise on your cheek?”

She touched that spot. It still felt tender. Shaking her head in an attempt to clear the memory, she said, “I’ve left Ian. You know why he wanted us to move all the way to California? To get me away from everything and everyone familiar. The counselor at the women’s shelter where I went yesterday told me that sort of thing is common. The abuser tries to isolate his victim, so she doesn’t have any support system.”

Her father’s face darkened, and his fists clenched. “Son of a bitch! I had a feeling something was off about him but didn’t want to say anything. When I was your age, if anyone had told me there was something wrong with your mom when I married her, I would have said they were nuts.”

Shelby couldn’t help smiling. “Well, you were right about Ian, but of course, I wouldn’t have listened.”

“So, he’s been beating you up?”

“Yes, it started after our honeymoon. We’d just gotten settled in Huntington Beach that night when you called to tell me about Mom’s car accident. He said I didn’t need to come back here to be with her, that she would be fine, that he needed me more. I figured he was just tired. So, I took my phone in the bathroom and made the airline reservation. He said nothing and for once, he wasn’t interested in making love. Again, I figured he was tired. So, we just went to sleep. The next morning, he still wouldn’t talk to me.”

“I see.”

“I called him from the hospital in Denver, where Mom had been airlifted, but I just got his voicemail. I told him Mom wasn’t expected to live and suggested he come, but as you know, he never called me and never came. You and I figured he didn’t want to leave his new accounting job so soon after starting, which is understandable.”

“I suppose, but he still should have been with you.”

“Yeah, well, it just got worse after I got back. That was when he started hitting me every day for some minor infraction. His steak wasn’t cooked just right. The apartment wasn’t clean enough.”

“Jesus Christ!”

“At first, afterward, he apologized and told me how much he loved me. Bla bla bla. But then, he stopped doing that and became a control freak.”

“I’ll be damned.”

“He also made fun of me and put me down. He didn’t like me getting friendly with any of our neighbors. It seemed like he was always jealous.”

As tears threatened, she hung her head. Her father reached across the table and took her hand. “Honey, I’m sorry.”

“At first, I thought he was stressed out because of the new job. I thought that if I tried harder, it would get better, and we would eventually go back to the way things were before we got married. I loved him, but I don’t know why now.”

“You were interested in selling real estate. I thought you said you’d find a job doing that in Huntington Beach.”

“He wouldn’t let me. He wanted me to be a stay-at-home wife. He didn’t want me getting involved in anything. So, what was I supposed to do at home all day besides cook, clean, and shop?”

Her father sighed. “You know, I think your mom felt the same way. With you being our only child, once you were grown and able to take care of yourself, there wasn’t much for her to do out here in the middle of nowhere. Of course, I wouldn’t have objected if she’d wanted to work, and I never raised a hand to her.”

Shelby found herself smiling again. “Mom was lucky. You were a great husband. Anyway, something snapped yesterday. After Ian left for work, I researched women’s shelters and found one nearby. I went there, but then, I decided I just wanted to come home.”

“Of course, honey. You did the right thing. I love you, and no matter what happens, we’ll get through this together.”

“I love you, too, Dad,” Shelby said, no longer able to hold back her tears. She jumped up from the table, hurried around to his side, and pulled him into a bear hug, burying her face in his shoulder, drinking in his reassuring scent. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you before and tell you what was going on. I just didn’t know what to think until now.”

His arms came around her, as they’d done many times when she was a child, hurt or frightened. “Honey, it’s water under the bridge. The important thing is that you’re home and you’re safe.”

As her father held her, Shelby also realized that after months of feeling like a bird in a gilded cage, she was finally free.

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in The Weekly Avocet, The Writer’s Grapevine, and other publications. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Please visit her website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com


Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com abbietaylor945@gmail.com

Guest Post: Abbie Johnson Taylor

I am delighted to have received a guest post from wriiter and blogger, Abbie Johnson Taylor.
She describes it as ‘Creative non-fiction’. I enjoyed it, and I am sure all of you will too.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING LAWN CHAIRS

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

“Somebody stole our lawn chairs!” Dad announced.

For many years during the summer months, my family attended weekly band concerts at Kendrick Park in Sheridan, Wyoming, on Tuesday evenings after dinner. We brought lawn chairs and listened to the community band playing old standards, marches, and popular songs. Afterward, we trekked to a nearby ice cream stand for dessert, leaving our lawn chairs stashed behind a tree out of the way, sure in the knowledge that they would still be there when we returned to claim them before walking home. But now, all we could do was gape at the empty spot where we expected the chairs to be.

It was the summer of 1983, and I was home from college on break between my junior and senior years. My ten-year-old cousin, Shelley, who was visiting from South Dakota with her family, had accompanied Dad and me and our Irish setter Clancy to the park. She said, “Oh, no.”

Clancy had wandered off and was sniffing something nearby, blissfully unaware of this tragedy. Dad finally said, “Well, why don’t you two start walking home? I’ll look around and see if whoever took them dumped them somewhere else.”

With Clancy, he headed off in one direction while Shelley and I sauntered the other way toward home, which was only about a block away. While waiting to cross a busy street, Shelley suddenly cried, “Look, there are our chairs.”

“Where?” I asked, turning my head this way and that. With my limited vision, I couldn’t spot them.

“They were in the back of that pick-up that passed us. One of the guys in the cab just gave us the finger.”

“Let’s wait for Dad,” I suggested.

A few minutes later when he caught up with us, and Shelley told him what she’d seen, he said, “Well, I’ll be darned. Come on. Let’s go home. It’s safe to cross now.”

At home, we found Mother watching television in the living room. When Shelley excitedly told her what had happened, Mother asked her, “Did you see what the truck looked like?”

“Yeah, it was a green truck,” Shelley answered. “and there were two guys in the cab.”

Turning to Dad, Mother said, “Well, you should call the police. With Shelley’s description, they might be able to find the chairs.”

“Yeah,” Shelley cried, jumping up and down and clapping her hands.

Clancy, who always got excited when anyone else did, voiced his approval while dancing in circles and wagging his tail.

After shushing the dog, Dad said, “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt.” He made his way to the phone in the hall.

That summer, I’d been reading an Ellery Queen murder mystery which featured some police brutality. Not having had much experience with law enforcement, I wasn’t sure it was such a good idea to call the police about stolen lawn chairs. At least we didn’t have a dead body on our hands.

But Shelley was so excited about the possibility of helping find the lawn chairs. I didn’t want her to be scared. So, I remained silent while Dad made the call.

A few minutes later, when Clancy’s barking announced the arrival of the local constabulary, Shelley and I were sitting on the couch together. She must have read my mind for she moved closer to me, giggling. “You nervous?” she asked.

I should have told her there was nothing to be nervous about. Remembering what I’d heard a thousand times on the television show, Dragnet, I should have advised her to give them just the facts.

Instead, I only laughed nervously as Dad opened the front door while Clancy continued to bark and wag his tail. Grabbing his collar, Dad said, “Let me just put him on the side porch.”

To my relief, instead of an entire crew of policemen who arrived after Ellery Queen reported a murder, there was only one detective. Instead of barking orders at people like Inspector Queen, he introduced himself and engaged us in small talk before asking about the crime.

Shelley was a trooper. She described that pick-up truck and the guys in the cab as best she could, saying, “I didn’t get the license plate number, though.”

“That’s all right,” the officer said, scribbling in his notebook. “That sounds like Ricky Rodriguez’s truck.”

Dad described the lawn chairs and said, “My New Yorker magazine was in one of them.”

“Okay,” the officer said, scribbling some more. “I’ll see what I can do. It was nice meeting you all.”

The next day, Mother received a phone call from the detective. He told her they’d found the chairs, along with other contraband, in the back of that green pick-up. Unfortunately, they needed to keep all found items for evidence, and we didn’t get the chairs back until October. But miracle of miracles, that New Yorker magazine was still folded up in one of those chairs.

Although my paranoia was somewhat abated that night, I still harbor a little mistrust of the law, especially after hearing about numerous instances of white police officers killing black suspects for no reason. I’m thankful I’m not black, but a friend once told me she’d heard of disabled people like me also being victims of police brutality.

But in our small town, there hasn’t been any misconduct on the part of law enforcement personnel. I feel confident that as long as I obey the law, policemen won’t hurt me. I’m also encouraged by the fact that three lawn chairs and a New Yorker magazine reported stolen were found the very next day.

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her latest novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, is now available from Amazon and Smashwords in print and eBook formats. Her poems and stories have appeared in Magnets and Ladders, The Avocet, and other publications. Please visit her website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Please visit Abbie’s site to read more, and to connect with this very supportive and interesting lady.

Guest Post: Abbie Johnson-Taylor

I am very pleased to bring you a fictional short story from published author and blogger, Abbie Johnson-Taylor.

SINS OF THE FATHER (Fiction)

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

“Where were you last night?” I asked my son, once we were settled at the kitchen table with coffee and store-bought cinnamon rolls. He’d shown up, unannounced, and I knew why.

He stared down into his coffee. “Like I told Carrie, I was at the hospital late with a patient. But she didn’t believe me. She let me slip into bed with her after I got home last night, but this morning, she kicked me out. She didn’t even fix me breakfast.”

I gave him my iciest stare. “Carrie called me at midnight, saying she couldn’t reach you on your cell. When she called the hospital, she was told you left at eleven. She was worried. I felt I had no choice but to tell her about your father.”

“Dad? What about Dad?”

“You’re just like him. So, who did you go to bed with last night instead of Carrie?”

He sighed. “Remember Jamie, that sixteen-year-old girl who had a heart transplant? I told you about her last week when we all had supper together.”

“You had sex with your sixteen-year-old heart patient?”

“No! Of course not! I’m not that stupid!” he spat. Then, with a sigh, he said, “Lydia was her nurse. We went out for a drink or two after Jamie died. One thing led and…” His voice broke, and he hung his head.

“Well, I’m sorry about your patient, but I’m not surprised at your behavior. It was the same way with your father when he lost a client.”

“What do you mean?”

“He was defending a man convicted of murder and sentenced to death. For years, he fought to stay the execution. At the end, a female paralegal worked with him on the case. The night of the execution, your father came home very late. I figured he had to tie up some loose ends or something after the man died. But when he slipped into bed next to me at three in the morning, he smelled of booze and sex. Apparently, he hadn’t bothered to shower after the act. In the morning, when I confronted him, he told me the truth, and I forgave him.”

“Okay, so, why didn’t you tell Carrie that? This is the first time I’ve ever cheated on her. I promised her it would never happen again. She’s the only one for me but…”

“The paralegal wasn’t your father’s only conquest. Things were fine for a while. Then, someone else came along, a secretary, another attorney. Once, it was a client’s wife. Each time, he confessed and said it would never happen again, that I was the only one for him. I didn’t want to leave him because of you and Debbie. My own parents split up when I was eleven, and I vowed my children would never be in the same boat. But now that you both are grown with your own lives…”

Not looking at his face, I stood, picked up my plate with my untouched roll and carried it, along with my full coffee cup, to the sink. As I disposed of the contents of the plate and cup and rinsed them before putting them in the dishwasher, he said, “That explains why your suitcase and purse are here by the back door. I thought you were going to a writers’ conference or something.”

I slammed shut the dishwasher door and turned to him, hands on hips. “When Carrie called me last night, frantic because she didn’t know where you were, I invited her over, and we had a nice visit. We’ve gotten along so well since the two of you were married last year.”

“I know.”

“Your father had yet another late night, and she was gone by the time he came home. Anyway, we decided to strike out on our own. For now, she’s invited me to move into your apartment with her. Eventually, we’ll find a place where we can each have our own space. I saved some of the money I made from book sales, and Carrie is removing, from your joint bank account, the income she’s made so far from her physical therapy job. That should be enough to support us for now, and my new book will come out next year.”

A look of shock crossed his face.

“Tim, I love you, but I’m extremely disappointed in you. I thought I’d raised you to be a better man than your father, but this sort of thing must be in the genes. I’m just thankful you haven’t had a chance to get Carrie pregnant yet.”

“She can’t get pregnant,” he blurted.

“That’s no excuse.”

His face reddened. “I’m not saying it is.”

At that moment, his father walked into the room. Eyeing us with a curious expression, he said, “Tim, what are you doing here? Leah, what are your suitcase and purse doing by the back door? I don’t remember you saying you were going out of town.”

Turning to him, I said, “And where were you last night? No! Don’t tell me. I already know. I don’t need to hear for the umpteenth time that she means nothing, that I’m the only one for you. Well, if I were truly the only one for you, you wouldn’t need any of those women.”

He looked aghast but said nothing.

“I’m sure Tim will be glad to explain why he’s here. All I can say is like father like son.”

I picked up my suitcase and purse, marched out the back door into the garage, got in my car, and drove away, not looking back.

***

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 Magnets and Ladders, The Weekly Avocet, and other publications. Please visit her website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Please use the link above to discover more about Abbie and her writing.