It is 4 a.m., and I have something pretty important to tell you. As you know, I write stories for “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, and a weekly column for newspapers. I have done it so long it sort of rolls out of me, and unless I hit a really dry spell, I find it natural and easy to do.
When I started, I wrote long-hand, and submitted on lined paper. From that I have come to know the computer and have had to accept the rule that all submissions have to be done on one.
I have been trying to edit my latest Chicken Soup story. I have struggled with it for weeks but, in short, time passed and I realized I had reached the final day when they would accept my story about stress. I had no choice, so I resolutely placed my fingers on the keys and started typing. Then it happened. One minute I'm just typing along and the next minute some — some — something flashed across the screen that had nothing to do with my story!
"OK, Jean, just don't flip out," I said to myself. "Think. What's happening? What magic button can I push to bring my story back?"
Well, I hit every button on that machine. Nothing brought back my words. Tears stung my eyes. "Just go get some ice water and try again." I did this and started all over again. Three-fourths of the way through, it happened again. I swear to you, this machine is demonic.
All my words slunk into who knows where, and no matter what I did, they never emerged. Where in the hell do they go? I started to shake, realizing I was flat out of time. It was an Aug. 7 deadline, and it was Aug. 7!
I left the desk and went downstairs. When I saw Gene watching TV, I blurted, "I quit. It just is not worth this." He took my hand and, like the child I was being, he led me back to the scene. I guess he thought he could fix it. He couldn't. He mumbled something about that he would type it all later. I just stood there. So tight in my neck were my muscles, I spit out, "No, just forget it. This may be the end of a long writing career!"
That night we both fell into a fitful sleep but, at 4 a.m. I awoke, still fuming. I fixed a coffee and sat down to snuggle with Pierre Kitty. When I reached for the TV remote (it’s a wonder I can even work that), my eyes fell on my writing pad on the table. I could not believe it. After I went to sleep, Gene had gone upstairs and retyped the whole story for me. Somehow, he made peace with the computer.
It hit me hard, realizing once again, the depth of his love for me. Gene is a sick man, and should not be subjected to such stress. I know how blessed I am to have a husband like Gene. Love makes us do far more than what we think we can do, and that is how he did this for me before the clock struck Aug. 8.
You know, I will be 80 soon, and he is 86. That is old. We don't have that much longer to be together, and you know what? No computer is worth the utter frustration it makes me feel, and when I feel it, I pass it right on to Gene to feel as well. That is how love works.
I just hope I have learned a life lesson tonight, nothing that hurts me just stays with me. We have to remember that those who love us feel our joy, but they also feel our every sadness and frustration. Sometimes we should just "get a grip.” But, let me ask you something. Where do all my typed words go, never to return? I just do not get it.
The view from the mountains is wondrous.
Jean's latest “Chicken Soup for the Soul” story is now in book stores. It is her 18th story for the series and is entitled, "Chicken Soup for the Young at Heart." Next stories to look for are, "Say Goodbye to Pack Pain," and, "Say Goodbye to Stress." The “Young at Heart” story is about when she moved to Winchester 21 years ago and what a new neighbor — Lee Mills — did for them.
The View from the Mountains