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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Are You Lucky ?

October 21, 2015

 

The line was busy when I dialed my ninety year old mother for our daily conversation, so I called back a few minutes later and got her.

           

Aside from me, she doesn’t get many calls so I was curious. “Who were you talking to?” I asked.

           

“I was talking to your Aunt Betty,” she said in a huff.

           

“You sound annoyed. Did she say something upsetting?”

           

“Every time I speak with your aunt she makes a point of telling me how “lucky” I’ve always been.” She spat out the word lucky as if it were a swear word. “Your father and I worked hard, saved our money and made good financial decisions, unlike other members of the family. Luck had nothing to do with it.”

           

“Don’t you consider yourself lucky?”

           

“No! We earned what we have through hard work.”

           

It bothered me that she refused to acknowledge the good fortune that had shadowed her throughout her very long life. “Hard work isn’t solely responsible for success. Many people work hard, often holding down several jobs, but circumstances don’t permit them to benefit from their hard labor.”

           

“God helps those who help themselves!”

           

If that saying were a record, my mother would have worn down the needle playing it. “Weren’t you lucky to have been born into a country where females weren’t killed at birth, educated and allowed to work outside the home? Things would have been different had you been born into a country where you might have been married off at twelve to a sixty year old man.”

           

“You and your hypotheticals are exhausting!”

           

“In the fifties, thousands of parents struggled with children who’d contracted polio. I bet most of those parents worked hard, but were dealt an unfair hand, with the results of their labor going to medical expenses. Young mothers develop cancer and die before seeing their children grow up. Hard working people die in car accidents, slipping on ice or being struck by drunk drivers. In my opinion, you’ve been very lucky. You and Dad were married for over fifty years and Dad always worked and handed you the paychecks.”

           

“I worked too! Very hard.” A twenty minute lecture on how hard she worked followed.

           

She did work hard at a bottling plant, a physical job that I know to have been exhausting. I accept the fact that these days my mother is a Fox News conservative, would find something disparaging to say about Obama if shown a video of the President pulling a child out of a burning building, but it bothered me that she was so narrow minded as to deny the role of luck in her life.

           

As for myself, I was born into a country where I could benefit from my hard work while struggling to make my dreams come true. I found my soul mate while still in high school, was permitted a college education and allowed to pursue my dream of becoming an artist. I was afforded the opportunity to raise our son in a warm and safe home. Most of this came about undeservedly. Loved ones have always provided a safety net to block my fall during rough times. I consider myself extremely lucky.

           

How about you? Do you consider yourself lucky? Has luck played a part in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

26 Comments
Well I don't believe in luck, but not in the same way that your mother doesn't believe in it. Maybe it's just the word "lucky" I have an issue with.
By: LL Cool Joe on October 21, 2015
I do not think you can woo luck easily. But having written that, I am very very lucky!!
By: Tabor on October 21, 2015
I'm lucky I didn't kill myself taking drugs I didn't know what it was and instead of passing into a coma and dying it just took me about 12 hours to sleep it off. I'm lucky I didn't die or have my spine crushed like the other woman in the van when it flipped out in the middle of nowhere on the way to a river trip. I'm lucky I was born white in an upper middle class family. I'm lucky my children and grandchildren are all still surviving. I'm lucky I got my education before the republicans turned the public education system into a joke.
By: Ellen Abbott on October 21, 2015
I believe I've been luckier than 99% of any human ever born...i just have never hit the lottery. Of course I don't play it either. In your mother's defense she was probably comparing her hard work being called luck to a relative who did not work as hard and considers your mom's hard work as luck. Anyway, the burning building probably would be Obama's fault. I'm not sure how, I'll have to tune into Rush.
By: cranky on October 21, 2015
I totally agree with you. I've worked very hard too but I've been very lucky. When I was younger, I rode an old motorcycle. I'd been camping the night before and was heading home at warp speed down a country road. One arm of my army field jacket came loose from where I'd strapped it on the back of the bike. It wrapped around the sprocket. One minute I was doing 80 mph and the next minute the back sprocket locked up. I slid over a feet before stopping. With my heart in my throat I stepped off without a scratch. I was lucky.
By: Rick on October 21, 2015
Luck is opportunity and timing meeting. Maybe she would accept the word benefit?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on October 21, 2015
You say luck, i say blessing, we mean the same thing. Yes, anyone who is born in a free country, educated, and raised by a good family is very blessed. Hard work helps, but as you noted, some people work very hard and still don't get very far ahead.
By: messymimi on October 21, 2015
Not only do I feel lucky, but I count my blessings before I go to sleep as there are many. Sure I worked hard and yes I made some bad decisions along the way, but I was lucky to have the family and friends that cheered me on, gave me advice and encouragement and sympathy when life gave me some big challenges. And most is a roll of the dice as to how one's life will be.
By: Kathe W. on October 21, 2015
I'm still waiting. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 21, 2015
I've often been amazed at how lucky (or fortunate) I've been in my life. I have no idea how I would handle it if things went south on me...
By: The Bug on October 21, 2015
I have always felt lucky for I have the ability like you to be only too aware of what could have been. Fortunately I have never thought a fat pocketbook was the only sign of success.
By: Akansas Patti on October 21, 2015
Yes, I've been very fortunate. I started my career in 1958. The economy couldn't have been better for my working years. Jobs were a dime a dozen. My Dad was 18 in 1930. Guess what he had to go through as a young person. He was still a success.
By: red on October 21, 2015
Indeed I am fortunate and I hope I also live with a sense of gratitude and what that means in personal behavior. Lucky to have survived a compound skull fracture, traumatic brain injury and a coma. Lucky to have the parents I did, Lucky to have married Lana and to be parent two wonderful daughters. Lucky to have traveled the world as a journalist and to have survived close calls. Lucky to have published two novels. Lucky to have discovered this great spot in the blogsopshere. Lucky for each day. Lucky for every opportunity to share a little light in a world where so many are not lucky.
By: Tom Cochrun on October 21, 2015
Let's give the ol' gal a break. She and your father could have sat around on their rumpuses, feeding you and your brother in soup kitchens, living in a Hooverville (not that I'm saying you're that old), and then YOU wouldn't have been so lucky.
By: Val on October 21, 2015
I agree with you. If hard work ensured wealth, millions of women in Africa would be millionaires. I believe it takes a combination of luck and hard work to "make it." Whatever "making it" means.
By: Pixel Peeper on October 21, 2015
I consider myself very lucky. And many of my friends, when questioned, would say "that bastard's lucky to be alive!"
By: Catalyst on October 21, 2015
Your mom sounds like mine. My mom was not as lucky but life is still full (My mom has dementia now). I have seen people who have been married for 50 years, raised kids who love them, There was no major health issues and they always kept their jobs. They hated it when they were told they were Lucky. I think they were being told they had an easy life without any work which is not the case. They were just blessed with good health and no accidents. Great jobs with no lay offs and children who did not bite the hand that fed them. It all depends on how we view life. I was severely bullied when I was a kid and my life was threatened plus there were other things that happened. I have Ehlers-Danlos , hypermobility type, which means I have pain 24/7 and have to be so careful so i don't pop out a joint or sprain anything but I am not sick sick. This means, my condition is a pain but it is not life threatening. The bullying was difficult and has shaped me but it is in the past. I have a beautiful hubby with a great home and plenty of fur babies and appreciate the colours of autumn and the last roses of summer. I consider myself lucky to be able to work and be considered an equal. I am growing up at a time where there is no world war or starvation or dust bowl. I am lucky:)
By: Birgit on October 21, 2015
I find sometimes too even the bad times turn out to be lucky times because they forced change which ultimately turned out to be beneficial.
By: John on October 22, 2015
I, too, like the word 'blessed' more than 'lucky'. And with blessings come the responsibility for caring for and about those who are not so blessed. Recently, I've felt particularly blessed when watching the struggles of the refugees trying to find a better and safer life for themselves and their families -- through no fault of their own.
By: The Broad on October 22, 2015
i have lived, for the most part thus far, a charmed life. succeeding, being given opportunities i should have been given, and i pray my angels will continue to direct me.
By: TexWisGirl on October 22, 2015
Yes. Lucky and fortunate! ;)
By: Michael Manning on October 22, 2015
I was also taught that God helps those who help themselves, with the goes without saying part being that He did not those who did not. I am so very thankful that it is absolutely untrue.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on October 23, 2015
I have to say that everyone has their own emotions and you can't fault them for their feelings. Life lesson: do not try to change an elder's mind because they cannot teach you how it was to live in their time and their experiences. I believe in being "Lucky" and I believe in hard work...and both can be very subjective, especially depending on the individual you are speaking with.
By: STL Fan on October 24, 2015
I'm with you Steven....those of us born in North America are very lucky to be able to make choices others are denied. Much of that is because of the great generation of individuals who fought for us. Have a good day. Beckie
By: Beckie on October 25, 2015
Oh and that's my hubby's favourite Clint line....Do you feel lucky? LOL
By: Beckie on October 25, 2015
I love your outlook Stephen. It's refreshing to hear someone think of the positives and not the negatives. I try so hard to think that way. Even through the loss of my husband, I felt so lucky to have had what we had and give him what he needed. Great post.
By: Bouncin Barb on October 28, 2015

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