Walk back with me about 21 years ago. A few weeks before Christmas, our women’s church group, called Relief Society, had a Christmas party. When we got there, we were each asked to write a service that we would be willing to perform for another sister and then hang it on a Christmas tree. I have a few things I can do. I’m a good cook, I can make cookies, or bake bread. I’ve done day care, I could take care of another mom’s children so she could get a break. I’m a fairly decent seamstress, I can sew something fun. But what I really love doing is writing. Not that I’m great at it, but it’s my passion. While the other ladies scribbled away on their cards, I wrote, “You provide the facts, I’ll provide the fiction.” Under that I wrote, I will write a story for you about something in your life.” I hung it on the tree and waited anxiously for someone to pick my service. We played White Elephant with the different services and I watched as the ladies fought over baked bread, childcare, sewing, and other homemaking type gifts. I started to doubt my choice of service.
A sweet Hispanic woman named Irma chose mine. As she read it out loud, there was not the usual twitter about what an awesome service mine was. In fact, my card sat with Irma the entire night. Now I really felt bad about what I had offered. Not one other person wanted mine. I even wondered if she knew what I meant by mine since her English wasn’t very good.
Christmas came and went and I almost forgot about my service until Irma called me in March. “Will you write the story of my courtship,” she asked.
After interviewing her, writing drafts, correcting and revising it, until it was the way she liked it, I took it to the printers and had two copies printed and bound into cheesy looking books. She wanted to wait and give it to him in November for their anniversary. But that was so far away, she she gave it to him for father’s day.
Flash forward 21 years. Irma called me. Her husband is upset because he cannot find the book. They’d moved a couple of times and it got packed somewhere and for some reason, he desperately wanted that book. Irma wanted to come make a copy of mine. I decided to do one better. I spent the week revising it, after all I feel like I’ve grown as a writer. I asked my daughter who was 3 at the time I wrote the book, if she would design a beautiful cover for me. I sent Irma the draft and she loved it. So it is now sitting at the printers waiting for two copies to arrive.
Irma took me out to lunch as a thank you for my hard word. Then she tells me what happened when her husband first received the book.
Tom read the book and wept.Irma did not know he was thinking of leaving her, that he wanted to end their marriage. Had she waited to give him the book on their anniversary in November, he would have already been gone. After reading my cheesy little story, he realized why he fell in love with her. Because of my service, they are still married. This book will never sell a million copies. In fact only four copies exist today (and one of those is buried in a box somewhere.) I’ve written a lot since then, and her timing was terrible as I was in the middle of a project. I’m so glad I did.
Of all that I’ve written, I have to say I am most proud of this book. Not for its well crafted plot lines, or its flowing style, but because I touched one person in such a way that forever changed his life. The best part of this whole experience is that I get to know just how much my words had power to touch a heart.