Emily Sue Harvey: Thank God for do-overs

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Rarely have I had the chance to make good an absolute blasphemous mistake. You know the stupid kind that when you try to explain to the injured parties, words fail you? Nothing sounds right when you try to justify just plain idiocy.

I got up this morning to a sunny day that held great promise of getting things accomplished. This past week has coughed up not one, not two, but three snows in normally mild-temperatured South Carolina. That alone knocked my barometric balance into a tailspin, during which I morph into a dizzy blonde. Add to that my hubby’s eye surgery in the midst of this, with Florence Nightingale me administering eye drops like clockwork and ah-ahhhing to his bending from the waist and such no-nos—well, it gets a bit, shall we say, hectic?

Maybe that’s not the right word but when I add pressing writing assignments such as blogs and website “stuff” and editing a nonfiction work in progress, well, “hectic” fits like Saran Wrap.

Anyway, back to this morning’s golden promises of sailing through the above mentioned. The snow from yesterday’s white deposit was almost non-existent, and I felt sprung from a piddly case of cabin fever. The first snow, earlier this week, also came and went like dove feathers in the wind. But the second storm was ice, something with which we southerners do not gee-ha. We go into hibernation when it coats our world, immediately, because to do otherwise is inviting catastrophic things to happen.

But this holing-up only comes after a dash to Food Lion for survival items such as cereal (in case the power goes out), milk, bread, sandwich stuff, chips and of course, assorted chocolate bars to comfort one during this harrowing occurrence.

This morning, however, all that was past and I tackled my Nightingale duties. I laid out three bottles of meds for Lee’s post-surgery, thrice-daily eye drops, then carefully pried open his red eye and dropped in the first one as he lay prone on the bed. In five minutes I would administer the next and wait another five minutes to do the last one.

A fifteen-minute deal, right?

I then went into the kitchen to wait out the five minutes. I began mixing the pitcher of tea and decided to refill the tea kettle with water for the next time. This I accomplished with the slowest running filtered water spout in world history. And while praying for everybody I know who’s in need and still not having filled the pot, I vowed to scrimp and buy a new system with the biggest spout made.

Lee was dozing when I returned to the bedroom and finished writing a letter to my daughter so I could get it in today’s mail. Thirty minutes later, I spied the other two eye drops bottles waiting patiently––and let out a howl. “Oh. My. Goodness! I forgot to do the other drops. I’m so sorry, honey.” I hastened to waken him and drip the second dose in his eye. This time I focused, really concentrated on completing the task at hand by administering the third drop in perfect time.

I felt like I’d crested Mt. Olympia. Or whatever the name is.

Lunch with the gang, close friends who meet regularly at Ryan’s (and were my muses for “the Gang” in my latest novel, Twilight Time), was delightful and helped me to level out after my less than sterling morning.

Back home, I scrolled down my email and saw a post from my Charleston granddaughter, Kristin. The heading was “Book Club.” My heart nearly stopped when I opened it and saw, “The book club meeting is the last Thursday of April. Can’t wait to see you.”

I froze. I had missed the meeting featuring my latest novel! No! Not me. I don’t do things like that! A sick, sick feeling hit me in the pit of my stomach and I told Lee, “I’m such a failure.”

“You’re not a failure. To me, you’re perfect.”

I explained in detail why I was such a failure. “Honey,” I reasoned, palms outstretched, “one does not forget something as important as a book club appointment. I’ve let everybody down.”

And as I got on my phone to call Kristin, he said, “I’m still proud of you. Look, we’re all prone to mistakes now and then. It’ll be okay.”

No answer. I left Kristin a message, wallowing in remorse and self-recrimination, ending with, “Please forgive me, sweet girl. I will do penance and if you still want me, reschedule at your convenience. Just don’t hate me for letting you down!” I hung up, still mortified at such a lapse.

A few minutes later, my phone signaled a text arrival. It was Kristin.

“Hey, Mimi. You didn’t miss it at all! It’s next month, in APRIL! You’re good! I love you!”

The box car lifted from me. I dashed back to the computer and reread the message and sure enough, it said “…the last Thursday in April.” Fear and apprehension had scrambled it in my head.

Like Lee said, “We’re all prone to make mistakes now and then. It’ll be okay.”

So, after all, the day is ending beautifully and I can do a do-over, so to speak. I don’t get many of those and I appreciate the opportunity.

Happy reading, dear friends!


Emily Sue Harvey is the author of the national bestseller Unto These Hills, as well as several other novels. You can stay up-to-date on her blog posts at her website.

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On March 3, 2015
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