Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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A Sad Announcement

December 26, 2016

It saddens me to report that one month after being diagnosed with cancer, my ninety-one-year-old mother, known to followers of this blog as Grandma Chatterbox, passed away just after noon on Christmas Eve.

 

Mrs. Chatterbox and son CJ accompanied me to her bedside on Thursday and Friday, and CJ and I had visited on Saturday an hour earlier and found her sleeping. We tried to wake her but she looked so peaceful and pain free I didn’t have the heart to forcibly rouse her. Pain from her cancer had made her last few days a living hell; she couldn’t walk, reposition herself in her bed or feed herself—a terrible situation for someone as fiercely independent as my mother. Hospice was tending to my mother at the nursing home we’d recently found for her and had finally managed to control her pain. I really thought we had a few more months. I’ve included a yellow rose with this post because it was her favorite flower.

 

I often joked that being in a relationship with my mother was like hugging a porcupine; people often got poked for their efforts, yet Mom was the font of my creativity. Growing up, I’d sit on the floor beside her chair and she’d tell me about all the wonderful things there were to see in the world. She described Venetian gondolas so well that I grew up thinking I’d burst if I didn’t get a chance to see them. She never managed to travel much but I know she took pride that Mrs. C.  and I were able to lay our eyes on famous sites she’d only read about.

 

Mom was the one who first encouraged me to be an artist. She knew about famous painters and realized this was something I could develop, something that would provide confidence and draw me out of my over-achieving older brother’s shadow.

 

Mom leaves an incredible hole in our lives and it will take a while to fill that void. I might be absent more than usual over the next few weeks while I close down her apartment and tie up loose ends. And I need time to grieve; most everyone from her once large family is gone so few people remember my mother, and that saddens me more than anything.

 

Mrs. Chatterbox and I are both sixty-four, but my mother always referred to us as “the children.” Years ago this irritated us, but now that she’s gone there isn’t anyone left to call us “the children.” For the first time in my life, I feel old.

 

On a brighter note, if Donald Trump exceeds expectations to become a good president I won’t feel compelled to admit to my mother that I was wrong and she was right.

           

Take care. 

 

 

 

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Comments

40 Comments
What a loving post- your Mom was so lucky in many ways- growing up in her large loving family, having you and Mrs C and CJ as her consistent, patient, loving and truly nonjudgmental family. Especially after your Dad passed away. We all should be so lucky as her. Our deepest condolences to all of you.
By: Kathe W. on December 26, 2016
Stephen, I can't tell you how very sorry Ray and I are for the loss of your mother. Your tribute written here was quite beautiful and heartfelt. Our thoughts to you, Mrs. C. and CJ.
By: Bee BB Bee on December 26, 2016
My sincere sympathy in your mother's death. I understand your sadness at knowing she was the last of her generation. May you find peace in the days and weeks ahead.
By: Kelly on December 26, 2016
sorry to hear this news. and yeah, it's like cold water in the face when you become the patriarch/matriarch of your family.
By: Ellen Abbott on December 26, 2016
I am sorry for your and your family's loss, Stephen, and for your mom's suffering the last while. It's difficult all around, isn't it ... I wish you strength and peace now, and good memories, like these ones you've written about today, for the years ahead. Take care of each other.
By: jenny_o on December 26, 2016
So sorry to hear this, Stephen. My thoughts are with you.
By: Botanist on December 26, 2016
I'm sorry she's gone but now so is her pain. I know you will keep her alive in your hearts!!
By: fishducky on December 26, 2016
My heart hurts for you. Please accpet my condolences for your loss. You and your wife and son will continue to be in my prayers.
By: messymimi on December 26, 2016
Stephen, I am so sorry, but oftentimes, people who are that old and that infirm are ready to go in which case, those of us who are left behind, wouldn't have chosen to keep them even if we could. I would assume that this was your mother's situation. I'm just sorry you couldn't have talked with her that one last time, but since no one can say when death will come, it wouldn't have been right to awaken her. I too love yellow, and I especially love the yellow of roses and of daffodils. I also love it that your mother loved you so, and that she was in a good position to inspire your artistic talent.. Peggy's father voted for Trump, and, sad to say, it so astounded us that we wonder if he's become senile. I can but hope that your mother's support of Trump didn't create a distance between the two of you.
By: Snowbrush on December 26, 2016
My eyes are welling. I'm so sorry, Stephen. I know the Mom loss, and it's one that you don't ever 'get over.' There's no replacement for your precious mother. But she's with you always. In Judaism we say: May her memory be forever a blessing. You are doing her a great honor by continuing your art and travel, etc., to keep your Mother's light aflame. Love and heartfelt condolences.
By: Robyn Engel on December 26, 2016
My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your mother. Even if we who stay back want to hang on for "just a little bit longer," it probably was a blessing for your mother not to have to suffer in pain any longer. Take care!
By: Pixel Peeper on December 26, 2016
Aw Stephen, I am so very sorry. You did all you could to make her days easier. She helped make you the man you are-- you could both be proud of the results. Do what you need and know we will be here whenever you feel you have the time and are OK about posting. Sincere condolences to you and your family. Know we care.
By: Arkansas Patti on December 26, 2016
Sorry for your loss, but she will certainly live on in many memories thanks to your stories of her.
By: PT Dilloway on December 26, 2016
Sympathy to you in the loss of your mother. It's always a shock and it's always hard to wind up a person's affairs. We will listen to you.
By: red Kline on December 26, 2016
Sorry about your mom's passing. As one of your readers she was a person in my life. Your reflections on her influence in your life are a beautiful tribute and a memory to us. We understand your grief and send our thoughts as you navigate closing her estate and learning to live with the loss. In time your memories of her become jewels in your life. I have enjoyed your anecdotes and look forward to future episodes as you move on. Your mother is not unknown or forgotten. And don't feel "too" old, that would really press on those of us with longer exposure to gravity.
By: Tom Cochrun on December 26, 2016
Stephen, I am so sorry for your loss. I have read the many blogs over the years and was greatly amused by her. My thoughts are with you and your family.
By: Cheryl P. on December 26, 2016
What a nice and touching post. I am sorry you did not have those couple extra months, but you do have some pleasant memories. Mothers are special! Blessings to you and your family.
By: Sage on December 26, 2016
A beautiful remembrance, Stephen. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.
By: scott park on December 26, 2016
It is always sad to lose someone close, regardless of their age. I have a very good friend who is having her 92nd birthday tomorrow and seems like she'll go on forever. I am very sorry for your loss, Stephen. In the meantime, since I am bearing down on 77 years of age, I shall refer to you as "my child".
By: Catalyst on December 26, 2016
I a, very sorry to hear about your loss especially on Christmas Eve. It is always sad when we lose a loved one but it seems more sad when it happens at Christmas. I know there may have been issues, if that is the right word, but I know that you must have been close to her as well despite the frustrations. It sounds like she was your rock and did all she could to help your talent. My thoughts are with you and your talent.
By: Birgit on December 26, 2016
Your Mom was an important person throughout your life and equally so in your stories. We will certainly miss her unique view on life. I'm so sorry for your loss, Steve.
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 26, 2016
So sorry to hear that news. Your mother will not be forgotten. Those of us who read your blog will remember her. I will be thinking of you and Mrs. C as you begin the process of grieving and tying up loose ends. It hasn't been all that long since I went through it with the loss of my mom.
By: Val on December 26, 2016
I am so sorry for your loss- will be praying for you and the family. My mother also has cancer.
By: Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines on December 27, 2016
So sorry to learn of your Mom's passing . It is always such a difficult time however as you said and it is so true, she had no pain or discomfort and found true peace at the end, and every ending is a new beginning.. And of course she always knew she was loved!
By: John Gibson on December 27, 2016
She was such a strong energy in your life that I am sure you are going to miss her greatly. You will do something and stop and her word will come back to you as if she is standing beside you.
By: Tabor on December 27, 2016
I am so very sorry to learn of your loss. I have loved every one of your stories about your Mom and her quirks and opinions. Similarly my Mom was fortunate enough to only have her diagnosis for a very short time before she passed. My thoughts and prayers go out for you and your family at this time of loss.
By: Oma Linda on December 27, 2016
My heart is with you. I've always appreciated the honesty with which you've written about your mother. My mother was very similar and yet there was love. May you find joy and laughter in your memories. No matter where she is, you will always be the children!
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 27, 2016
It saddens me to hear of your mother's passing. I will always remember her coming over for coffee with my mom. Many times I sat in on their conversations, (which your mom was not fond of!) I was little at the time and didn't know what they were talking about anyhow, but they made me leave when they wanted to talk about something serious. A few times your name was mentioned and she told me not to repeat what I had heard!! At the time I thought that was strange. Your stories have told me alot more about her. A hole was left in our family, too, when Mom & Dad, Stuart & Darwin passed so I know what you are saying. ..... Thinking of you and family at this sad time....RIP Mrs. Hayes
By: Linda on December 27, 2016
Stephen-- First, I'm sorry for your loss. When I lost my mother, it was heartbreaking. With time (years) it gets a bit easier... Second, I will have to check out that Volunteering CS book, since we're both in it. (I'll read your story later today.) Third, I don't think you need to worry about Trump exceeding your expectations. But if he does, I'll be pleasantly surprised. Again, my condolences...
By: Sioux Roslawski on December 28, 2016
I'm not in the UK at the moment but just wanted to take the time to say I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad your mom isn't in pain anymore but so sorry for you that she us now gone.
By: LL COOL JOE on December 28, 2016
I'm so sorry.
By: Hey Monkey Butt on December 28, 2016
I'm so very sorry for your loss. Much love to you and yours.
By: The Bug on December 29, 2016
Sorry to hear of your loss, esp. at this time of year. Hopefully she has gone to a better place. Condolences to you and your family.
By: Tom Sightings on December 29, 2016
Steve words can't express how sorry I am of your mother's passing. Auntie Alice was a very good person who cared deeply about people. I have very fond memories of her strength and humor. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Sue, & Collin.
By: Susan Genovese on December 29, 2016
I'm so sorry for your loss. At least she went peacefully. The post was a beautiful tribute. It's wonderful that you have good memories of her. (I seriously doubt your opinion of Trump is wrong.I believe he made a deal with Putin and will be impeached before the end of his term. He's a ruthless self-centered salesman and doesn't even know what ethics are. And I'm from NY. We knew him a long time and that's why he got trounced in NY.)
By: Lexa Cain on December 30, 2016
A beautiful and touching post, Stephen. Sorry for your loss. Take care.
By: Mr. Shife on December 31, 2016
I am so sorry to hear of your mother 's passing. I always enjoyed reading about her, and I knew you told those stories with love.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on December 31, 2016
I'm so sorry for your loss, what a sad Christmas it must have been for you. But it is also a wonderful tribute to your mother, and I feel that I know her a little just from reading it. You can rest assured that you did your best for her and you have told the world about the vital things she did for you. What more can a son do? Take care.
By: jenny woolf on January 2, 2017
Ohhhhhhh, my friend, I am so very sorry. All my thoughts, prayers, and best wishes to you and your family.
By: Al Penwasser on January 2, 2017
Apologies for my lateness in responding. I'm so sorry to hear of the death of your mother - through your posts I felt as if I knew her well, despite (of course) never having met. I wish you strength in your grieving process. Take care.
By: Bryan Jones on January 9, 2017

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