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


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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Dad's Last Flight: Almost

August 7, 2015


I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately. I find it hard to believe he’s been gone seven years. It’s summer and he loved baseball, but the last time I spoke with him was during a football game. We were enjoying the Super Bowl together. I’m not much of a sports fan, but seven years ago Mrs. Chatterbox and I had a little Super Bowl party. We like to scarf down a few munchies, watch the commercials and wonder what the game is all about. My parents had recently moved to the area and we included them. We had the best time ever. I can’t remember Dad enjoying himself so much. The game was exciting, and after driving home Dad called to tell me what a great time he’d had. I never spoke to him again. The next morning Mom found him in his favorite chair. Dad had died from a heart attack. My parents had been married fifty-nine years.           


In the days to come, my mother’s brain was understandably short-circuited by grief. Looking back on this painful experience, I can now find a trace of humor in it. After dad was cremated Mom said to me, “I’ve decided what to do with your father’s ashes.”


I was surprised. I’d thought Dad would end up in the family cemetery where his parents and sister (and Mom’s family) were buried.


“No, I’ve thought of something special to honor your father.”


“Really, what do you have in mind?” I asked.


“I’m going to have your father’s ashes thrown out of an airplane. Over the ocean.”


I thought about it for a moment, trying to hold my tongue, but in the end my proclivity to render opinions won out. Dad had never let me down when he was alive and I felt he needed me now. “Mom, that’s a thoughtful idea, but I don’t think Dad would

have wanted it.”


“Why not?” she asked.


I gave her two reasons. “First, while it’s true that Dad was a pilot and loved to fly, he spent his life trying not to plummet from the sky. It seems cruel to dump his ashes out of a plane. And another thing…”


“Go on,” Mom said.


“Dad wasn’t a confident swimmer and was terrified of the ocean. To scatter his ashes over a place that terrified him just doesn’t seem right.”


In the end, Dad was interred in the family cemetery where he’d always assumed he’d be laid to rest. So now for the public service announcement. If you’re watching a sporting event with your dad, stop for a moment to appreciate him. We never know how much time we have left together. If you aren’t spending time with Dad, give him a call and tell him you love him.


As for your wife, be sure and tell her what you want done with your ashes or you could end up taking a dive from 10,000 feet into a very large swimming pool.




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You were fortunate to have a special time with your Dad. He was fortunate to die in his home peacefully. I believe where we are laid to rest is more about the surviving family and friends. We just spent time with my father to celebrate his 86th. birthday. He recently started having TIA's (Transient Ischemic Attack) often referred to as a Mini Stroke.
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 7, 2015
good advice all the way around. so glad you had that one last special day with him.
By: TexWisGirl on August 7, 2015
Hug everyone you love as much as you can, and yes, tell people what you want done with what's left of you. Sweetie wants to be buried at sea the way sailors were in the old days, wrapped in canvas and chains. It ought to be interesting.
By: mimi on August 7, 2015
Your father was always the kindest sweetest gentleman. Always willing to help whenever he could, the neighborhood mechanic, too. I was just looking at your painting, Protest II, the other day and your selfie you hid in it. I thought you look a lot like your dad, especially your hair! He was a special guy and your mom was lucky to find him. You had a wonderful last day with him. Cherish it.
By: Linda on August 7, 2015
Sending both you and the misses a kiss.
By: Tabor on August 7, 2015
What a fun memory you have with your dad! And I love your response to your mother. We always joked with my mom that we'd scatter her ashes at Walmart, but in the end we decided not to :)
By: The Bug on August 7, 2015
It's really wonderful that your last memory of him was that he was happy and you all were having a good time. He died with happy thoughts of his family being together and enjoying themselves.
By: Lexa Cain on August 7, 2015
I have a funny story about a guy who dumped his dad's ashes out of a helicopter but the rear window was open and they blew right back inside and all over everything and everybody.
By: Catalyst on August 7, 2015
your Dad was quite a guy and so are you! Your last sentence had me in stitches! Have a great weekend with Mrs .C
By: Kathe W. on August 7, 2015
Kudos to you for sticking up for your dad. My husband wants to be buried in the middle of our field. I think mainly he just wants the big production of hiring a backhoe, and blasting the bedrock to get six feet under.
By: Val on August 7, 2015
That's a neat story to remember your Dad. You also bring up those important topics on end of life which we should all talk about.
By: red on August 7, 2015
Glad your Dad's last day was a nice memory for everyone!
By: Pixel Peeper on August 7, 2015
Dang, this one hit's home. I just sent a column into one of the newspapers that run my column and it had the same title as your blog. I lost mine in 1986. I think of him almost every day.
By: Rick Watson on August 7, 2015
I've never been a fan of cremation but my husband has insisted that is the way he wants to go out and I've come around. But - get this - he want me to throw the ashes away. Now, I can't do that. He may not get ALL of his wishes.
By: Cherdo on August 7, 2015
Your post is a sensitive remembrance of your dad. Warm memories, such as you shared, are a wonderful thing.
By: Tom Cochrun on August 7, 2015
Such joy, such sadness but all with a healthy dose of being able to see the humor in life!
By: John on August 8, 2015
What a blessing your Dad's last visit was so wonderful. You have no regrets as some do. Good reminder to those still lucky enough to have their parents with them. I did put my Dad's ashes in the ocean off Key West but that was what he wanted.
By: Akansas Patti on August 8, 2015
so lucky that you had that great evening with him. I did not have a close relationship with my parents but about two weeks before he had a massive stroke and died in the middle of the night, they stopped by my house for a short visit. when they were leaving, I gave him a hug and said, I love you (something I had not told him in years) which surprised me because it was not a conscious action. but I'm glad those were the last words he heard me say to him.
By: Ellen Abbott on August 8, 2015
Although both of my parents are still alive, I am realizing with each passing day how important it is to spend time with them. I'm glad your final night with your dad was so fantastic- a wonderful memory that you can think about time and again.
By: Terri on August 8, 2015
As far as I am concerned, my wife can feed my body to the pigs. For "I" will be gone home, but she has the okay to do whatever she needs to.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on August 8, 2015
My parents are both gone now, but the same advice applies to anyone we love--spend time together and let them know you love them. We sometimes talk about where we'd like our ashes scattered. One choice was the outfield of our favorite minor-league ballpark. But that's gone now, and we hate the new replacement park. So we have more thinking to do.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on August 9, 2015
We haven't done anything with my Dad's ashes yet, my mother seems unable to make a decision. The truth is, he's gone, so really it doesn't really matter where we put his burnt remains.
By: LL Cool Joe on August 9, 2015
Wow...this post brings back memories for me. Read here http://nessiesmusings.blogspot.ca/2011/01/putting-mom-to-rest.html Oh and as to my football thoughts....read here http://nessiesmusings.blogspot.ca/2012/02/super-duper-bowl-sunday.html Stephen it is wonderful that you have a lovely memory of your last time you spent with your dad....
By: Beckie on August 13, 2015
My condolences, Stephen. After 14 years, I miss my Dad every day. You are a good son!
By: Michael Manning on August 13, 2015
I'd give anything to be able to call my Dad. It's bee 17 years now. I love that you can know that your Dad passed away after spending a wonderful day with his son!
By: Bouncin Barb on August 30, 2015

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