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His life, so his computer

Mar 8, 2012 By Betty Starks Case

"Healthy people aren't interesting," says television's Dr. Drew Pinsky. "Drama is always about sick people."

Sick in some way, I suppose. And by that measure, this column should be great. I think I've just escaped pneumonia.

I know of several local people who ended up in the hospital as a result of this nasty spring cold that's making the rounds.

But there are people out there facing greater challenges than chest congestion. Challenges that do, however, connect to the heart.

Like my unpredictable mate deciding to buy a new computer and write his memoirs. The project should outlast my cold recovery, but don't bet on it.

The story began when Son asked Dad to record something about all the places we'd lived through the years. Dad was bored with winter anyway. So why not order his own computer and see what his memory could recall?

Of course, you already know there's a computer in this house. But my mate shudders at the thought that he might accidentally hit a wrong key and obliterate an entire page of column material on a day when I'm already up to here in writer's block.

Actually, my man learned keyboard years ago, and also to use the computer. But he got sidetracked with jobs and volunteer work, so now he must train those man-size hands to hit one key at a time all over again.

Here's the rest of the story. This guy is deeply ingrained with work ethic. As anyone who knows him soon realizes, once he begins a job, he dives in full force until it's done. Telling him that there's no hurry about it, or that he could stretch the project out to entertain himself until garden-planting time just won't sell.

When he needs a rest from considering what is of value to posterity, he grabs a dust cloth and the bottle of "Old English" wood treatment oil and gets physical with the cabinets and other wood parts of our home.

This process may have the power to apply mental scratch cover to things you wish you hadn't done in life, or rub it in to enhance the things you're glad you did do.

But that's just my idea. Back at the computer, with occasional technology glitches remedied by our family guru-across-town, we are surviving the blue smoke that emanates from the home office and stocking a good supply of printer paper to record the results.

I asked one day if I could see what my mate had written about my appearance in his life. I got only the mysterious response, "Sometime..."

So where does my arrival reside in his memory? Might it be the day he gently lifted my in-shock sister to the school bus without one question after she opened a telegram of family tragedy, while the bus driver and other students just sat and stared?

Probably not. He's too modest for that. Anyway, that's my treasured memory.

More likely, my presence appears in his oft-told story that I blew into his arms in Wyoming on a South Dakota tumbleweed.

Today, our office still has the two desks it always had. One is a nice big one one he built from scratch long ago, then later fitted with a sliding keyboard table for me.

You'd recognize it as the piled-high messy desk with the little Dell screen.

His is the orderly maple desk with his new, enlarged screen, plus the blue card table at its side for sorting and collating the many pages of his life.

Oh yes, and rather than connect us both to the same printer, Son also appeared with a "way early" fathers day gift of a fine HP printer.

Believe me, it's better this way.

My mate and I both find this venture into the past, his and ours, to be a most interesting one. There's a lot to learn in a backward look at your life. Probably a number of things overlooked the first time. Sometimes a better understanding of one's self and others. Plus a few, "Now why did I do that?" questions. And maybe more than a few "glad I did" ones.

Written life records are strongly encouraged in this family, born somewhere between honor and demand, deeply treasured history to those who will read them.

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