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….

Sign up and read my novel for free.

All Blog Posts


Nobody Holds a Grudge Like a Mother

June 26, 2013

 For the past few weeks I’ve been dedicating myself to the completion of “The Best of Chubby Chatterbox, a collection of my most successful posts. This week has been spent editing, but I hope you enjoy this post from 10/19/11.

    

My eighty-eight year old mother doesn’t read my writing, which is a good thing because I doubt she’d appreciate how I characterize her, but lately we’ve run out of things to talk about so I’ve taken to reading short stories to her over the phone. I recently shared a childhood adventure: actually it was a chapter from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope. I thought she’d find it amusing. Boy was I wrong.
     

The story, Riding the Hammer (check it out under “Short Stories” on my blog) takes place when I was ten and my best friend and I snuck out one summer evening to inspect the carnival that had risen in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center. 
     

I read the story to Mom and she listened quietly without interrupting, which was unusual for her and should have served as a clue for what was to come. As I read, I was pleased with my words and felt I’d created a well-paced, rhythmic story that was evocative of the period and, in my opinion, amusing if not outright funny.
     

When I reached the conclusion the silence on the other end of the line was deafening. “So what did you think?” I asked.
   

 “Let me get this straight; you snuck out of the house to go to this carnival?”
     

I was startled. That was what she’d focused on? That I’d snuck out? What about all those pretty words? “It was nearly fifty years ago, Mom.”
     

“I don’t care how long ago it was. How old were you at the time?”
     

“Ten."

 

“I’m disappointed in you. Where was I when this happened?”
     

Dad worked a graveyard shift as a mechanic for the city of Sunnyvale and Mom worked days at a plant that bottled wine. She always dozed off early. “You were asleep on your bed.”
     

“You betrayed my trust.” I could feel her hand coming through the telephone and smacking me on my now-gray head.
     

“I think you’re blowing this out of proportion. Besides, what did you think of the rest of the story?”
     

“Tell me, did you have a pang of conscience over what you were doing?”
   

 “So you didn’t like the story?”
   

 “It was hard to get past the realization that you weren’t the little boy I thought you were.” 
     

She harangued me for twenty minutes, channeling so much rage that you'd have thought the incident happened yesterday.
     

“Well, I certainly wasn’t an angel," I said. "Maybe I better not read you anymore of my stories.”
     

“I don’t want to curtail you, even though your stories are probably filled with deceptions that will wound me deeply. Continue reading them to me.”
   

 Fat chance!
    

Can your mom hold a grudge? Is she still blaming you for something?

 

 

 



Comments

28 Comments
Be glad you still have her around to gold a grudge. My Mom passed away 26 years ago.
By: Eva Gallant on June 26, 2013
Gaahhhh!!! And this is exactly why only two people I know in real life actually even know I have a blog...
By: Shelly on June 26, 2013
It depends on the subject, but it's usually not grudges, it's just a bit of a tongue lashing. Really, i'm just glad she is still here, so i don't mind.
By: mimi on June 26, 2013
OMG!!! bless you!
By: TexWisGirl on June 26, 2013
Parents usually think of their sons and daughters as children however old they might be, and your story is a good example of this. It made me smile! My Mum was the same as yours in her eighties, Stephen, the generation gap had widened too far, but we still loved each other as you do your Mum. I guess in the end it's all part of life's rich pattern.
By: Sharon Bradshaw on June 26, 2013
I've been told by my significant other that I 'at times' speak to my 'grown' children in a manner best described as 'parenting'. I believe I've improved on that front and can only say that our parents will always see us as their children. Whatcha think buddy?
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 26, 2013
Your mom wasn't Italian, was she? My Italian son-in-law was mad at someone for a long time over a small incident. I asked him if he was going to stay mad until he died. He said, "No. Until I die, & then another three months!"
By: fishducky on June 26, 2013
My mother can't picture me as an adult. She will never ever forgive me for marrying the person I've happily spent my life with, and yeah, sometimes there isn't much to talk about.
By: Kerry on June 26, 2013
Well she has a point really. :D My mother would say the same thing.
By: LL COOL JOE on June 26, 2013
My mother was a master and would talk years later about some betrayal by one child or another. Fortunately, I am thick skinned and eventually realized she would never change and that I was not the guilty party in her tirades. Although there were days...almost a week when she would not be speaking to us!
By: Tabor on June 26, 2013
i think it was Terry Pratchett that said that part of the purpose of parents was to put a few kinks into your personality so you could cope in a twisted world
By: dont feed the pixies on June 26, 2013
oh hahahah I have been in your Mom's shoes (so to speak) when I have sat aound the dining table with my adult sons and heard what they did unbeknownst to MOM! I could not get mad- I was just relieved that (one example) they survived jumping off the deck onto all the mattresses and couch cushions they had dragged out of the house onto the lawn far below. What amazed me is how they put the house back together - even making the beds back up and I never detected a wrinkle of what they had done. Holding a grudge and all that? Naaah and my mom didn't either. Both she and I were just relieved that everyone lived to tell the stories! and oh by the way- I'd be happy to mail you an Apricot Pie! Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on June 26, 2013
My mom died about 20 years ago. She's probably still angry with me. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 26, 2013
If I had told her of some of the things I did I think she would have forgiven me. But I was never as ..ummm..."brave" as you to admit them to her face. Yeah, lets go with "brave". ;)
By: Scott Cody Park on June 26, 2013
My mother was a saint. My father could hold a grudge a lifetime. He could also hurt you very badly. Looks like your mother and my father would have gotten along nicely. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on June 26, 2013
I find it comical that she pulled out the " you weren't the boy I thought you were." Fat chance of ever hearing another story...good call on your part. I wouldn't be upset if my kids told me of some chinanigans they pulled but there is a certain bliss in not knowing what devious little sh*** they were.
By: Cheryl P. on June 26, 2013
My brothers and sisters and I (well, me to a lesser degree because I am 5000 miles away) deal with the same frustrations and negativity with our mother. I try hard not be be like this with my adult children.
By: Pixel Peeper on June 26, 2013
I don't imagine that you are the only person who finds that a parent can not let go of things. With me, some of the things that were not spoken of came out when Dad was in his eighties and he had a good laugh about them. We bought a motorcycle and tried to hide it.
By: Red on June 26, 2013
Yeah, my mom blamed me for childhood indiscretions for the rest of my life. But you were a boy - you were supposed to sneak out. (Heck, I was a girl and I did it.) I adored the summer carnival that came to our town. Those were magical times. :-)
By: Lexa Cain on June 26, 2013
Oh your mother is a story all her own. Gotta love that.. and maybe dread it just a little bit. :)
By: Hilary on June 26, 2013
My mom COULD hold a grudge, but I'm her nine-dollar daughter. She does not, however, recall with fondness the time I termed the can of corned-beef hash she ate on a camping trip "dog food".
By: Val on June 26, 2013
I think our Moms could be buds. She is a firm believer in forgive but forget? Eh eh. I love this post. I spent the afternoon with my Mom, and quirks and all, I stopped and just cherished her, despite it all. :)
By: Carrie on June 26, 2013
I guess time means nothing to a parent when it comes to their children.
By: John on June 27, 2013
that's great. i love stories about your mum. she sounds like such a character. thanks
By: Fran on June 27, 2013
I love the post. I have to say that I totally understand where your mother is coming from. I grown children often talk about things I didn't know they did. Though the incident has long passed and nothing bad happened, I am still gripped with fear just hearing it. A mother never lets go of her sense of responsibility; so she can't turn off those fears and "disappointment". Funny, funny post. Keep writing them anyway and read them to her. She will lighten up after a while. It was just the shock.
By: Charlotte on June 27, 2013
Hmm. That's an interesting reaction. I think I would have countered with, "Why don't we talk about your childhood. Regale me with the things that you did at ten, and don't lie, because I'll know."
By: Michael Offutt on June 27, 2013
That's hilarious. I'm sorry, Stephen. Next time, maybe read her a Leave it to Beaver script, substituting your name for the Beave. (?) xoRobyn
By: Robyn Alana Engel on June 27, 2013
Wow!!! My mother DOES read my blog, so I have to be very careful what I say. But even if I were to tell the truth, it wouldn't get as bad as that ... usually. (She still complains about how her in-laws made her stand in back for a family photo in 1949 and she was ... "dressed better than anyone else there" So, yeah she does hold a grudge.)
By: Mitchell is Moving on June 27, 2013

Leave a Comment

Name:
Email:
Comment:

Return to All Blog Posts Main Page


RSS 2.0   Atom