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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Washing and Waxing Mother

May 9, 2014

These days it takes a shoehorn to get my mother out of her apartment. At eighty-nine, she’s becoming a recluse. Mrs. Chatterbox and I constantly invite her to spend time with us. Mrs. C. tries to coax her by offering to prepare her favorite dishes, and I offer to pick her up at her front door, drive her to our place, hold her arm firmly while escorting her up the six steps to our front door and set her favorite mixed drink in her hand before feeding and returning her home.

    

Whenever I make these offers, Mom’s reaction is the same. “I’ll take a rain check.” Really? Mom has enough rain checks to see her through a deluge. Not even the promise of seeing her grandson can dislodge her from her apartment. She refuses to eat in the dining room of her retirement facility and cooks her own meals, and she only goes down to the lobby before dawn to get her mail, when she won’t encounter anyone. She’s lived in her facility for four years but few of the residents have seen her.

    

This Mother’s Day it’s more of the same. I asked, “What would you like to do on your special day?”

    

“Nothing. I’ll just sit at home with my memories. Maybe I’ll eat half a peach.”

    

“Why don’t we go out for brunch, or dinner? I know you love seafood. How ‘bout it?”

    

“The days when I enjoyed going out are over. People who care about me will just have to understand. My legs are weak. I can’t get around like I once did.”

    

Mom only leaves her unit a few times a year, such as when I take her to H&R Block to get her taxes done and when I take her to the doctor for her annual check-up so her prescriptions won’t be cut off. I’ve spoken with her doctor and there’s nothing wrong with her legs that more activity won’t cure. In truth, Mom is selfish and just doesn’t want to put herself out by letting her family do anything nice for her.

    

Last Mother’s Day the weather was beautiful and Mrs. C. and I showed up and insisted on taking her for a ride. “C’mon,” I pressed, “the fresh air will do you good.”

    

She was not a happy camper, but she struggled into a coat (it was a warm day) and I helped her into the backseat of my RAV. We drove around burning gas for twenty minutes while Mom glared at the world with hostile eyes. Finally, I’d had enough and turned around to take her home. On the way we passed a car wash. The RAV was in need of a wash and wax so without thinking I pulled in.

    

“What are we doing?” Mom inquired.

    

“I’m going through the car wash.”

    

She didn’t say anything, but I looked at her in the rearview mirror and saw that she was sitting up, the sour expression on her face gone. The car started to move on the track, and before long streams of water and suds were whirling about as we were pummeled by sponges and blowers.

    

Mom didn’t say anything. It dawned on me that Dad had always washed their cars. Dad didn’t believe in car washes so it was likely my mother had never experienced one.

    

“What did you think?” I asked when we’d rolled into the sunshine.

    

“It was all right,” she said. “It wouldn’t bother me if we went through again.”

    

Last year’s Mother’s Day was a hit and she still talks about her car wash experience as if it were a European vacation. But a few days ago when I asked if she’d like to go through the car wash again she shook her head. “I’ll take a rain check.”

    

Maybe this year I’ll take her to Jiffy Lube and let her sit in the RAV while I get an oil change.

 

 

 

 



Comments

30 Comments
I remember Mama MB had this attitude a lot in her days, lol. Must be a mom thing. They start getting older and just don't want to do anything.
By: Hey Monkey Butt on May 9, 2014
At that age, finding something that is entertaining is gold, so hit that car wash and the Jiffy Lube on Sunday!
By: Shelly on May 9, 2014
oh my gosh- when I get to your Mom's age I will not be sayin' I'll take a rain check- I'll be happy and raring to go! Your Mom might be depresed about getting old....and not able to do all she used to? Maybe you could take her drink and dinner to her?
By: Kathe W. on May 9, 2014
what a surprise for her! the simplest thing pleased her. bless you for hanging on...
By: TexWisGirl on May 9, 2014
Oh you and your Mom stories make me giggle and shake my head. I know she knows that the rain checks won't get her a better place in the hereafter. Poor thing she is like so many other "olde folks" they just limit themselves to such a small life. It's great that you keep trying.
By: Oma Linda on May 9, 2014
Your stories about your Mom are such a hoot. I hope that she.. and Mrs. C have a wonderful Mother's Day this year.
By: Hilary on May 9, 2014
I think at 89 the world is too scary and some people just shrink into what they know. I'm betting your mom appreciates the invites even if she does not want to venture out...but then you know that. Funny that when forced to go through the wash she enjoyed it.
By: Cranky Old Man on May 9, 2014
At least you still have her. Maybe you could bring take out to her place for lunch?
By: Eva Gallant on May 9, 2014
Jiffy Lube? Now that made me snort! You need to take her to that place where they make a huge performance out of pouring the coffee!
By: Pixel Peeper on May 9, 2014
That's hysterical! I love how you piqued her interest that way. Jiffy Lube sounds like a good idea, or a "clapper" for her lights...
By: Lexa Cain on May 9, 2014
Heh, heh. I LOVE the "Maybe I'll eat half a peach" quote. My mom is always up for an outing. She will be 80 at the end of the month.
By: Val on May 9, 2014
You are a patient and dear sweet son. Bless you!!
By: Tabor on May 9, 2014
Your poor mother, and poor you. She is determined not to be happy, and you have to watch her do that to herself.
By: mimi on May 9, 2014
This is hilarious---especially the peach comment and you taking her to Jiffy Lube. Hopefully she'll have a good Mother's day with her son. :)
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on May 9, 2014
You are a good son! I wouldn't worry too much about her reluctance to go out...just don't stop asking. I;m sure she feels your love, and truly...that's all that matters.
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on May 9, 2014
It' a sad situation for all involved. So the moral of the story for us is to keep fully involved in life.
By: red on May 9, 2014
God bless you. You don't give up, as I would have long ago. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on May 9, 2014
I think your mom may not be enjoying life, especially the growing old part. Try to see it from her point of view., and it might make her feel more understood and then more pleasant to be with. After all, if what you're doing isn't working, keeping on doing it isn't going to change things. Just two cents' worth from someone who is going through the same thing.
By: jenny_o on May 9, 2014
Think Cranky may have hit on it. Just keep thinking out side the box. Hope you find just the right thing.
By: Akansas Patti on May 10, 2014
Do they have drive through beer barns there? Just tryin' to help. ;)
By: Scott Park on May 10, 2014
Cute. I like going thru the car wash too. It's very entertaining!
By: Tom Sightings on May 10, 2014
I was chuckling and then laughing out loud as I read this post. Your mom is a spitfire. You could always adopt me and I would love to go through the car wash.
By: CiCi on May 11, 2014
Oh, man. She does a great job of trying your patience. Good for you, not giving up. All you can do is keep on trying!
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on May 11, 2014
i'm glad your mum enjoyed the car wash. i love stories about your mum.
By: Fran on May 11, 2014
I think it's a mom thing. My mom doesn't ever want us to do anything but if we don't she gets a little hurt. :) New follower. Came over from Cranky's
By: Melynda Fleury on May 11, 2014
A great tale and so funny. I can feel me shaking my head with disbelieve and laughter at the same time. Such is life......
By: John on May 12, 2014
My mother is exactly the same, Stephen; 83 years old and point-blank refuses to leave her house (except for the necessities i.e. local food shop; doctor's surgery and visits to the hearing-aid clinic). Strange the effect of advancing years - it makes me even more determined to live for today!
By: Bryan Jones on May 12, 2014
That's a shame really but it sounds like her mind is made up and that is how she wants to live out her life. My grandmother lived in her own home until she turned 100. She became more reclusive as time went on but could be coaxed out of her house to go to any restaurant offering fried fish. People sometimes get set in there ways I guess.
By: Cheryl P. on May 13, 2014
Argh! The car wash story is darkly funny. There are times (in your stories) when my mother actually seems to me to be a saint. Thank you for that.
By: Mitchell is Moving on May 14, 2014
It is sad, but not at all uncommon. Some seniors feel more secure in staying in or close to home. Having said that, don't give up trying. Just don't punish yourself.
By: Daniel LaFrance on May 14, 2014

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