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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Another Conversation with Mother

February 1, 2013

As most of you know, I spend a lot of time dealing with my eighty-seven year old mother. Mom lives in a retirement facility called The Lodge. I call twice a day to see how she’s doing. Mom’s brain is as sharp as ever when it comes to managing her finances but our conversations often stray into strange territory. Last night’s conversation went something like this:

    

“How are you doing today, Mom?”

    

Deep sigh. “Same as usual—surviving.”

    

“Did you talk to anyone today?” She isn’t into socializing with the other retirees and not even a fire drill can dislodge her from her apartment.

    

“Yes. I called Blocks and made an appointment.”

     

Blocks? A bit of deciphering is often necessary when talking with Mom. “Blocks?”

     “

You know, for my taxes.”

    

“Oh, you mean H&R Block?”

    

“That’s right. I made an appointment for March 22nd.”

    

“That’s interesting. Have you made arrangements for The Lodge’s shuttle to drive you to your appointment?”

    

“No! How many times do I have to tell you I don’t want to take the shuttle. I want you to take me.”

    

If you want me to take you, why did you make an appointment on March 22nd? I’ll be in India. I’ve mentioned this a dozen times.”

    

“When do you return?”

    

“On March 24th.”

    

“Couldn’t you come home a few days early so you can take me to get my taxes done?”

    

“Let me get this straight: The Lodge has a shuttle that will deliver you anywhere you want to go and pick you up when you’re finished, but you want me to cut my vacation short and fly home from the far side of the world so I can drive you five blocks to H&R Block?”

    

“I don’t like the shuttle.”

    

“Why? What’s wrong with it?”

    

“Have you seen the people getting into that van? They’re all so old!”

    

Most of the people at The Lodge are younger than Mom. But I held my tongue.

    

“I suppose I could reschedule,” she said reluctantly.

    

“Wise idea.”

    

She changed the subject. “So what else is new?”

    

“Our visas finally arrived. I was worried there might be a problem because of the SNAFU over me checking the occupation box for ‘Writer’ instead of ‘Retired.’” But that’s finally been straightened out. Did I mention we got our shots today?”

    

“You need shots to go to India?”

    

“It’s recommended. We don’t want to get sick over there or bring home parasites. I got four shots and a prescription for Malaria pills.”

    

“Four shots? That sounds excessive. Where did you get them?”

    

“At the Travel Clinic.”

    

“Well, I hope they know what they’re doing. You should have gone to a doctor.”

    

I rubbed my forehead. “Do you think the Travel Clinic operates from the back of a truck, beside vehicles peddling Elvis rugs and fresh crabs?”

    

“Don’t get smart with me, young man.” (She’s the only person alive who still refers to me as a young man.)

    

I explained, “The Travel Clinic is located at the hospital and run by doctors and nurses.”

    

There was silence on the phone.

    

“Mom, you still there?”

    

“Yes. I was just thinking about how long it’s been since I had fresh crab. Maybe tomorrow when you’re out and about…”

 



Comments

25 Comments
Sometimes I think they do this just to keep us on our toes...
By: Shelly on February 1, 2013
Your Mom story reminds me of when my parents would be shaking their heads over something my Dad's mom had said or done. My Mother would look over at me and say "Your Grandmother drives us crazy sometimes. We won't do what she is doing, but we'll do something equally irritating." My Mom pased away long before she did anything to irritate me, but my Dad has made up for that 10 times over. I could write a book..... Your Mom actually sounds pretty normal- who wants to be in a bus full of just old people?
By: Kathe W. on February 1, 2013
My Mom always referred to the old people in her Retirement Home. It is good that she still has a sharp mind although it may not seem that way at times...... India, wow!
By: John on February 1, 2013
Come on, it's much easier for you to fly halfway around the world than for her to get on a shuttle with all those old people. When my mom gets that way I'm just going to let my other three siblings deal with it.
By: PT Dilloway on February 1, 2013
I love your mom. She's just like hubby's 92 year old mom. It's all about her. Period. We just roll with the punches. Glad you got your travel issues worked out. Have a terrific day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on February 1, 2013
BTW, if you're out buying fresh crabs, I haven't had one in a while either.
By: PT Dilloway on February 1, 2013
I swear to GOD we have the same mother. You have my sympathiesâ¦.you donât seem to stress out over it like I do â I end up a wreck every time we get together. Itâs why I live a state away. Thank God for my brothers. Mindy
By: mindy on February 1, 2013
You are a young man to your mother. Comparatively speaking your a young man to a lot of people...but with your mother's expectations of you you might be aging rather quickly. Glad to hear you got your Visas. Yay!!!!
By: Cheryl P. on February 1, 2013
The best thing about one's parents living to be really old is that it gives one hope of doing the same, that's assuming one wants to live so long.
By: Snowbrush on February 1, 2013
I love your conversations with your mother. If my mom were still alive I think we might have some similar ones :)
By: The Bug on February 1, 2013
Sometimes it takes the patience of Job, Young Man.
By: Mitchell S. Block on February 1, 2013
I'd love to go out for fresh crabs with you, Young Man! You don't mind coming to California, do you? What time shall I be ready?
By: fishducky on February 1, 2013
Only mums can talk round in circles like that - only mums
By: Glen on February 1, 2013
Wow. You have a lot of patience. My brother used to take care of my mom like this (before she passed away). He'd call her all the time and they'd even go on vacations together. I lived too far away (which is sometimes a blessing - lol).
By: Lexa Cain on February 1, 2013
Why not tell her H&R Block makes house calls. Then she can start calling them and pestering them until, just to shut her up, THEY DO. For her at least. ;) S
By: scott park on February 1, 2013
Glad you got your visas. You're probably on the "watch" list now and won't be let back into the country! You should be glad you can have conversations like that with your Mom cuz when she's not around you will miss them!
By: Linda on February 1, 2013
My mother would employ the same reasoning and logic as your mother. However, my mother is about 5,000 miles away, so I only have to do this a few times a year on the phone.
By: Pixel Peeper on February 1, 2013
My mom donates to a foundation once a year. You know how that goes. They get some money, and keep coming back to prime the pump so the cash keeps flowing. Recently, Mom became incensed after getting three more request letters. She wrote them a hateful response declaring that SHE sees what they're up to, and that SHE'S not so senile that she forgets she already donated, and that trying to trick old people like that into donating every time because they can't remember is CRIMINAL, and they need to take her name off their donor list because she will NEVER donate money to them again. And furthermore, that's no way to do business.
By: Val on February 1, 2013
In the grand scheme of things, your Mom isn't accepting this aging gracefully crap and I don't blame her. Getting old sucks! Those seniors who still have a sharp mind and are relatively healthy, are blessed. I hope when my mind or body craps out that I kick the bucket promptly. I'm not interested in being a bump on a log.
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 1, 2013
My mother is in her early 80's and they sound very similar. Fortunately my Dad is still alive and at the moment he is dealing with her, but I do worry about what will happen when that situation changes.
By: LL COOL JOE on February 2, 2013
Your mother is such a hoot. Better crabs than scabies. ;)
By: Hilary on February 2, 2013
It sounds as fun as talking to my teens! LOL
By: mimi on February 2, 2013
We lived about 20 miles away from my grandmother, so we got to see her often, but sometimes her requests would drive my dad nuts. One night see called at about 9 p.m. "Mike, I need you to come turn my TV down." "Mom, I am not driving 20 miles to adjust your TV." "You know I can't figure that thing out and I want to go to bed." "Just turn it off." "I don't know how." "Then unplug it." These type of conversations happened at least twice a week. I miss her.
By: Brett Minor - Transformed Nonconformist on February 2, 2013
she keeps you on your toes, doesn't she?
By: lime on February 10, 2013
My dad died a few years back and my mom is (like yours) in her 80s. I too talk to her at least weekly and see her as much, but I have to say I envy your ability to write about your mother. I always thought if I did it would be titled "If You're Reading This My Mother Must Be Dead." Z-
By: lydia/zoe on March 2, 2013

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