April 29, 2004
Writer Beth Rothstein Ambler of Jackson has two passions in her life — her husband, Chuck, and the words she sets to paper. She owes both of them to a twist of fate.
"My husband was a gift from God," said Ambler, 41. "He was my boss and we secretly dated for five years, but that changed after I got [multiple sclerosis]."
At the age of 33, the rising manager for Rite Aid pharmacies was forced to abandon her career after she contracted symptoms of the debilitating disease. Although she could no longer work, her personal relationship with Ambler, 51, a regional vice president of Rite Aid, began to blossom.
"I was lying on the couch, physically and emotionally paralyzed, [when Chuck] said, ‘Beth, you know you can do this, you know you can get off this couch,’" Ambler recalled. "You get off that couch and we’ll get married."
She asked if he were sure.
"Very sure," Ambler said he replied. She said he told her, "Beth, you have always been high maintenance. So what if I have to carry you to bed."
"It was a very romantic story," she said.
Ambler not only found love through adversity, she also found her literary voice.
"I was on the supermarket checkout line in Jackson and spotted Glamour, a woman’s magazine, which advertised a [writing] contest," said Ambler. The theme was "Have you ever lived through anything so dramatic that it completely changed your life? Tell us about it." I thought, ‘Hell, yes!’ "
Ambler recounted how she sat down to write like one possessed.
"I even used words whose meaning I didn’t know," she said.
Despite the creative burst of energy that propelled her thoughts into words, she did not win the contest. That did not stop her from pursuing a writing career.
"I resubmitted [the story, retitled] ‘The Stalker Within’ to the National MS Society and they were the first to publish it," said Ambler.
Her latest nonfiction story is "Eva: Princess of True Grit," published in "A Cup of Comfort for Courage," which was edited by Colleen Sell. It is one of several stories that have appeared in the series. Ambler’s other contributions to the anthology series include "One Man and a Whole Lot of Somebodies," published in "A Cup of Comfort for Inspiration" and "A Bike With Pink Ribbons," published in "A Cup of Comfort for Women."
"They’re heartwarming stories," she said.
Ambler also regularly contributes to the National MS Society and Real Living with Multiple Sclerosis magazines. Her award-winning story, "It’s a Battle for Benefits," appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of "Inside MS."
It is not the career the native New Jerseyan said she ever envisioned growing up.
Born in Somerset, Ambler graduated from Lakewood High School in 1980. She attended Ocean County College, Toms River, before transferring to Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, from which she graduated in 1983 with a degree in business management.
After going to work for her father, who owned a leather and handbag store in Deal, she eventually went to work for Rite Aid. She worked for the company for 15 years before being stricken with MS.
Despite a future clouded by the disease, for which there is no cure, Ambler is optimistic.
"The mind is a very powerful thing and staying positive in the face
of adversity [is important]," she said. "I wake up every day happy.
That and my wonderful husband keep me going."
Copyright © 2004, Tri-Town News