New York Times bestselling author Peggy Rowe is at it again—this time giving a hilarious inside look at her writing career. She has been writing all her adult life. In fact, she doesn’t know how not to write—even through those years of constant rejection from publishing houses. But between her tenacity and the encouragement of her family, Peggy’s breakthrough finally came at the tender age of 80. Vacuuming in the Nude is most likely her funniest prose to date as she shares her journey of attending myriad writers’ conferences and honing her ability to see humor in everyday situations.
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The you did it again. You found yourself another bonus episode of the way I heard it. This is episode number two hundred and seventy seven otherwise known as chapters five and six of my mom's book vacuuming in the news chuck is joining, may here long distance, although he doesn't have a proper microphone, so he's gonna sound, even tenure and more girly than usual. How are you check on roll call? come on, go just can't be there not that bad but they're, just flying blind here, happy friday, everybody unless of course you're listening to this on a saturday or sunday or some other day. All I know for sure is this is going up on a friday and we are so excited you're. Turning my mom into a rock star. Thank you to everyone. Yes, I've received your notes on facebook clamouring for the next series of chapters were yeah. I guess this is a series of chapters were doing two at a time when our quite at the halfway mark
and I dunno chuck. I don't want to overstated, but is this whole little experiment, officially a bonafide success? I don't want to overstate it either, but I do believe it is the greatest podcast series of books on tape ever honest to god with a mouthful of marbles and sentiments like that. It really does make me sad that you don't have a good microphone, so people could just hang on to so they're really picking this up. The people are digging it friends. My mom and I have both received many of your questions on facebook asking for more details and if I had it to do over again, I sit down after each of these and debrief my mom, who got that sounds awful debrief. My mom, you know what I mean: that's even worse,
You would talk to your mom. Just talk to your mom. Let's leave my mother's briefs out of it, my mother- and I would talk about the chapter you just heard, but I don't want to do that because I don't want to up the flow of this any more than we are already doing, cause we're doing these instalments until I, but whatever chapters five and six are coming up, you're going to love them, I will say that the questions you ve posed were keeping and when the book is done, I'll have my mom back on and then she will answer your many prescient queries for now. However, I would simply like to skip the hoop de total and get right to the issue at hand. Chapters five and six of my mom's amazing book, which you can now get on amazon. It's called vacuuming in the nude and other ways to get attention and we're gonna get to that right. After this, I want
three regime like you never see away. Yes, swallow son that just like a girl in a folks on a right, jingles fur, just anybody. I kind of item four, just everybody and there's chuck help me out there on the high ports real high freely field of greens, is making these two chapters possible. Thank you, my friends for that and, if you guys, aren't taking field of greens. While then I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you're probably aren't get your recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Almost no one is. I wasn't until I started every day. Just chuck does we wake up and we get our ultra fine field of greens powder spin
beaten into a fine, almost a mist and I poured into cold water. Would you poor yours in tunisia have called half room temp water, that's what I do is chucks a weirdo. It is voices instruments, so he babies it, but I just go with the coal food water when I put in the field of greens powder and I give it a shake and then I pound it down, and then I get one with my life if you're, in the knowledge that I've had my full allotment of fruits and vegetables and I'm serious about this, it does make all my subsequent meals easier, because I don't feel like I gotta get the veggies. I just get more meet no yeah. It's great. I love this powder. I can't get enough of it. I recently discovered
raw powder. They have one that's role that doesn't have any kind of sweetener in it at all, and I like that better. Let's interesting, because I really found the taste abominable, but what that's? Only because there is nothing in it, but the role food powder there is not even a hint of sugar or anything so I have it too and when I say abominable, I just made a comparison. It's what I would default to, if I really was doing like the key to think again and just wanted to make sure that was not an ounce of sweetness and that's the way to go awry right right because in general, the flavors that they have there's like the berry flavour, this lemon line, flavour they're, all really good, flavors, very tasty. I can't guarantee it'll make you burst out and song, but that's what happened to me field of greens, dotcom promo code, MIKE, is where you want to go field of green start com, promo code, my ten percent off your first order, plus because my friends at brick, house or so us under
Five dollars back to the micro works foundation with each order. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much field of greens, dotcom promo code mike and here we again sing and real heine, pretty like a little girl alone two three no treasure like you've, never seen swallow hm sung at just like a girl. What chapter five and right? I did most of the conflicts an hour were the result of books. How many times for my son's late to the table because of a book or didn't get enough sleep because of a book or negligent about chores because of a boy
I heard my family's please and excuses in my sleep just one more page before I turn out the light mom, I promise I meant to do my homework, but I had to finish my I very book. I knew you wouldn't want to pay a fine. Even my husband was famous for say just one more chapter on them or leave. Is it your one? He was all a famous for monopolizing the bathroom because of a book and still is the truth. Is I envy my has, and and the sun's I describe as voracious readers, even as toddlers the children more drawn clutching their favorite books hoping to catch? their father or me relaxing some books. I had read to them So many times they ve been memorized, it was impossible to read turn from our weekly grocery shopping without a new golden book later my has and I were vigilant about the reading material in our home, knowing that it would like
could be read by the boys to this day. Job can have as many as three books going at a time when it comes to bond with the boys his favorite topic is his latest good read. It was one of the messages I heard over and over. In my writing, courses, if you want to be a writer, you must be a reader not just because it helps us to understand human nature but because we learn to love language through reading. More importantly, it bans. Our imagination, according to Stephen king reading, is the creative centre of writers life and who could forget william factors, advice to writers. Reed, reed, red, read everything, trash classics,
good and bad and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies, the master read: you'll absorb it. Unfortunately, that was not great news for this writer. I wondered if it was even possible for a self does scribes slow reader to be a serious writer. Slow is then I can't keep up with the captions at the bottom of the tv screen. Oh, I fred countless worthwhile books. and even some fine literature and I've certainly known the pleasure of curling up with a good book in more recent years, I've spent where's reading and studying long admired, humor writers. But for me, reading has always been a ponderous exercise. Could a person be a serious writer? such a handicap? I wondered and then
was the matter of my idyllic life in two thousand to see biscuit, was still all the rage as the lover of horses. I couldn't put it down. As a writer, I was fascinated by the fact Then arthur, laura Helen bran had suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome since nineteen. Eighty seven, when she was twenty years old she endured severe vertigo and exhaustion that left her incapacitated and house bound for many years that this writer was able to persevere and produce the best seller seemed nothing short of
I give us laura hill in brand joined a long list of well known authors, who have struggled to overcome hardship Margaret mitchell, once famously said, hardships make or break people. Her first husband had taken off after only four months of marriage, never to be seen again when she suffered complications from a broken ankle, her career as a journalist and abruptly. So she said about writing gone with the wind, a little novel about the civil war and reconstruction. It took three years to write and earned her appeal. It surprise Elizabeth barrett brownings. Suffered with debilitating physical ailments from an early age, as did ernest hemingway. He committed suicide at the age of fifty seven after writing, a mere twenty five books. When
Kay, rollings marriage ended and she was left penniless jobless and depressed. She, too had considered suicide and went on to write a masterpiece, Robert louis stevenson, tennessee Williams and stephen king battled addiction. Even the beloved erma bombeck was diagnosed with an incurable untreatable genetic disease. When she was twenty years old, she survived breast cancer and domestic to me, an enduring daily dialysis dealing with breast cancer. When I was middle aged help me to relate to as with illness, but really it was my only brush with adversity, while growing up my greatest hardships had been living with a perfect sister and without a poem and having to endure baseball games where my mother shouted obscenities at the
pyres and danced in the aisles at the stadium, in short I had led a life of privilege with good health. Nevertheless, right I did this low reader, who had never known the heartbreak of domestic discord, the tragedy of addiction, life with an incurable illness or extreme poverty, and you had no market for her work wrote every day, because the writer within had no choice. There were stories to tell stories about the people in my life. people I loved and admired people whose behaviour I didn't always understand, and people who made me laugh because what writer does not long to have their work read by someone. Anyone and appreciated to loving supportive parents who were Cheer cheerleaders, until the day they died, were a great asset,
to my writing life. They presented me with two of my earliest opportunities to share my prose on the occasions of their ninetieth and ninety first birthdays in two thousand and two on the calendar, the two events took place within one month, but on a celebration scale. They were light years apart. The time my husband and I were settled in our condo moment- had had moved into a senior living facilitate just minutes away. My sister I planned and ninety birthday bash. Therefore mom, but now our family members were able to attend. I wrote the following story, so they could at least celebrate by curiously and not miss the full scope of what happened.
I called my story and affair to remember on the occasion of moms ninetieth birthday exhausted. I pushed my mother's wheelchair through them all and plopped down on a bench in front of friend, these restaurant well ma am we ve, tried lord and tailor macy's and hex. Let's take a break and have a sandwich. It was two thousand and an mom was in pursuit of the perfect outfit for her ninetieth birthday celebration, something that would, while her ends and neighbours and relatives in years past she'd have whipped up an original. creation on her old singers sewing machine. She knew a thing or two about fashion and quality and wasn't about to settle her expectations were modest, something well constructed, understated, classy and not too expensive. She was
Ninety, after all- and she reminded me how many more opportunities will I have to wear a dressy outfit. The expensive dress she had tried on at macy's had given us a rare opportunity to share some humor mom would usually too busy taking charge to appreciate the lighter side of things Its expensive, but you can bury me in this- she said looking the dressing room, mirror that way I'll get. My money is worth. How does it look in the back? I went out on a limb due care. As for your burial, I said, with a straight face, nobody's going to see it she smiled at me in the mirror, as we shared a little unspoken humor, my mother and I were the same size and shape. darn. Well, there was away. This lovely dress was going underground. Our tastes were different.
I always knew where to look on those rare occasions. I needed something: elegant, moms, closet, never disappointed. Minutes later she announced that she couldn't justify the expense and we moved on no, I'm said, glancing up at the red and white friendly sign. I have to get back to your father. Mysteries can only stay with him until three o clock. We still have two more big stores. Then there are a couple of smaller shops we haven't tried. Besides, I'm even tired. She pointed the way to gacy penny warning, be careful of that bompard the entrance peggy that last, when nearly gave me whiplash, we had been at it for the past two hours and I was tempted to tell her mom lower your expert. patients a little, but when had, I ever actually spoken my mind to my mother
When I reminded her that she had a closet, full of lovely custom made outfits, her response was o your phone has see me in those old thing so many times. I need something new Father was blind and had been for ten years Had norman rockwell been there? He'd have set up an easel and reached for his broaches a senior woman pushing a wheelchair, while her ancient mother pointed the way ahead like an explorer who had just spotted land. all the while being passed by energetic young people looking as if they were working on their ten thousand daily steps. After another hour shopping, unsuccessfully mom said you know, I'm still not tired, times. I wonder if I really do have congestive heart failure. Ok, honey, let's try those smaller shops in the
and she couldn't find anything is classy as the outfits hanging in her own closet. She looked at me and with a straight face said: this has been a waste of time. Well, at least we got our exercise, After a mere four hours I pushed mom to the car, then My way back to the wheelchair corral in the mall, making a mental note If my mother needed a new outfit to celebrate her hundreds birthday, my sister JANET could do the honors that evening jan came in from richmond. the following day, she and I visited the party planner caterer at the retired at home, where mom and dad resided, we carried a list because naturally mom had planned every detail, guest list, menu, drinks, music and speakers ma. Am we reason why don't you just go with us? You know
exactly what you want and let them think I've planned my own party. How would that look so dutiful, loving daughters, side and headed down the corridor list in hand. I had made a fool A collage and ordered the tasteful arrangement of flowers, pastels requested with a matching corsage. Hopefully they would meet with our mothers approve. The leading carry during our birthday production would be my mother naturally, but an essential supporting character was the birthday cake on our list. The specifications were underlined in red white icing, gale, pink roses and pale green leaves. nothing brighter gaudy, tasteful pastel to match the flower arrangement and her course eyes. It was alive They party held in the elegant garden, room surrounded by tall
windows looking out on lovely bushes and trees and far flowers, the weather was perfect and everyone came, including, half a dozen or so of moms virginia relatives at the podium. I welcomed guests and introduced family members, then might shared a light Where did poem about his grandmother? She listened with interest nodding in approval from time to time, scott roamed, the room with a video camera on his shoulder capturing all the action phil took charge of music when he had suggested having a karaoke machine in encouraging guests to entertain as well. His grandmother turn quite pale and herself in raised her eyebrows until they disappeared
guess for enjoying three kinds of data sandwiches that afternoon, along with punch in coffee when it happened, we're ready for the cake. My sister told the head waitress. What cake the woman said there is no cake. No cake was ordered. Well, of course, we ordered a cage feeling our mothers eyes scrutinising the exchange from across the room. Jan and I were careful not to show the panic. We felt the waitress pulled a paper from her pocket and firm that, indeed, no cake had been ordered. We had talked about it, but apparently moved on to something else before actually placing the order Oh now we assume you were bringing in your own dessert people sometimes do that. The waitress said the room went suddenly dark and fuzzy conversations blurred
and the words major coronary ran. through my mind. Fortunately, my sister was there. As the oldest, she was in charge, I'm pretty sure that so the book would stop in her capable hands. So chanted said putting your hands on her cheeks you mean not only is there no keg, but there is no desire. At all of any kind o she one of us might have uttered. I'm sure I don't recall just to what are we going to do and that's when a blur race to cross the coroner? My vision two angels actually what's wrong, mom
modern law margie asked as cousin Nancy whispered a frantic, shriek peggy. What's the matter, you look like you're going to pass out, so we told them and before we finished Nancy S, where's the closest grocery store. There's a food lion right across the street. before I could finish, Nancy and Margie were flying through the door purses in hand. I shouted after them white. Do you with pastel pink roses? Nothing gaudy our mothers, smelled trouble so well waitresses scale, freezers and the various dining rooms for left over desserts from sunday. Lunch jan assured her at things for a fine, just a tiny glitch, not for the first time. I found myself wishing that my sister lived near by instead of to hunt
miles away. A half hour later guests had barely delved into the assortment of partially thought left over slices of pi. When Marty and Nancy returned to the party followed by a waitress carrying a lovely she cake, If mom notice, the bright red, blue and green declarations on the cake she chose not to mention it, or maybe she was just too busy basking in tributes from friends and a slightly off key rendition happy birthday. I learned later that there was only one other cake available. A sheet cake with the message happy retire, and uncle bud Nancy and Margie had chosen. Well, mom looked lovely in her vintage, silk, blouse and homemade skirt and managed to stay out of her wheelchair for the entire party. When dad told her she looked beautiful in her new outfit, she kissed him on the forehead as usual his
face turned red all in all. It was a delightful party, jan and decided that if we around for our ninetieth birthdays, we'll settle for cake an ice cream. mom's, family loved reading the story, even the ones who, had attended the party. They said that I had captured Thelma their sister and on to a T. My father had always disliked our and could usually be found, observing the action from a safe distance in a comfortable chair, the fact that he could no longer see and was still willing to beyond display on the front lines, so to speak is a testament to his love and devotion to my mother As I mentioned, my father's birthday, was quite a different story an afternoon to remember I called it. We had said
firstly recovered from my mother's ninetieth birthday party. For weeks earlier, when my father turned ninety one mom respected his request for a quiet observance, after all, she had forced him to endure a house full of company in speeches a year earlier for his ninetieth and then again for her ninetieth for the last ten years of his life. Dad had been blind and weak from a stroke. several days a week while mom ran errands or played a game of bridge with friends. I sat with him asking questions like an inquisitive newspaper reporter and taking notes ass. He read lived his boyhood in a nearby neighbourhood. On his ninety first birthday, I brought him home made chocolate brownies with peanut butter icing, his favorite and a book of poetry and I'd choice. Some might argue for a blue collar tradesmen with the seventh grade education, who had never read a book
while mom took a well deserved break dad and I reclined on twin beds, snacking on grapes and brownies. I opened a book and began reading a passage from the song of hiawatha. When suddenly, I heard his voice. I stopped reading and listened as he received. from memory quote: dark behind it rose the forest rose, the black and gloomy pine trees. Unquote when he faltered, I resumed reading and again he joined in innately intel dad had always been the go to person for math problems, repairs of any kind and common sense advice, but poetry. Never, I guess I remember it from school. Was his ex?
the nation. It had been almost eighty years since he had finished the seventh grade. I turn the page to another longfellow poem quote under the spreading chestnut tree. The village smithy stand Uncloud again dead, joined in again I stopped reading and he continued quote the smith, the mighty man is he with large and sinewy hands uncloud. How incredible that I could have known this perfect, father and husband for more than sixty years and never heard him recite these poems. how touching that a twelve year old boy had been so moved by these lines as to memorize them really tee don't always know how they are influencing students. Until that day, I hadn't shared by
creative writing with dad on some level. I was probably a shame That it wasn't good enough to be published. Oh he knew that dabbled in writing, but when told him about the book fair just weeks earlier and placed my copy of into the blue in his hands. He caressed the booklet as if it were his treasured bible, the one presented to him by the church he had attended. Most of his life I opened it and read my nonsense, poem on realism, aloud and dead laughed, so I shared some other poems with my captive audience poems
I had written for young children years ago and, put aside dad shook his head after each and asked. Did you really right that when I finished he said they sound like poems, you would read in a fancy, poetry book, maybe someday you write a book on simple children's poems that brightened dad's. Ninety first birthday are still among my favorites dad, especially loved this one. I called it. I think I'll run away. I'm sick and tired of living here. My family's mean to me: I'm not allowed to dig a hole or climb high in a tree. My father hid his tools from me the hammer and saw how can I nailed things to the floor or decorate the wall? My mother makes me pick up toys and brush my.
teeth each day and wash my hands before I eat. I think I'll run away a pack, some cookies in a bag, a flashlight for the dark. I leave my sober toothbrush home and move into the park. I'll take a coat for winter time. The for my feet. I won't be going too far. I'm not allowed to cross the street, on, and I joined mom in the birthday boy for supper that evening afterwards. Dad asked me, You re read my poems and claim that it was a nice birthday he could remember. I had no doubt that this was the best part of being the writer, seeing the wonder and pride in the face of one eye so admired I grown up in a time before parents told their kids. I love you every hour of the day, When it came to love my mother and father
use. The most relevant technique employed by good writers everywhere, show it don't tell it and that's precisely what they did every day but the sixty seven years, I knew them chapter six. At last I peggy it's John. mom tells me you ve, been published in the Saturday evening post our law, time, minister and friend said I had to Oh and congratulate you don't I wish I said I was the winner in their limerick contest. That's all five lines that describe a cartoon. It's not a big deal still. Your limerick must have been better than hundreds of others hang in there peg. One of these days, church friends were especially support and always asking where they could read my work. It's still my
Computer I'd? Tell them smiling from time at the time I would write a letter to the editor of the newspaper. If it was published. Church ladies, would cut it out and bring it to sunday, school or bible study or the women's circle meetings where they would read it aloud to the group. It was two thousand and three and my mother was constantly on the prowl for bragging material. She lived in retirement community with over a thousand residents and having a daughter who was published in a real magazine would give her a nice competitive edge. None of her friends, children were successful writers. Not did she wasn't already proud of me. I was just a child when she first explored the possibility of my becoming a writer. Apparently I was famous for my somewhat fanciful stories.
Peggy has an active imagination. She would tell people when I was in the first grade. I was invited to tell stories after lunch. Every day I stood before twenty to thirty kids and made up a story off the top my head, mom and mrs Harrison. My teacher were church friends in a job many a laugh over those stories aftermath was reassured that they were pure fiction and not family secrets. Later, when I would come into the I'll, say after day of rounding up cattle. On my pretend horse, I would share my incredible experiences with my mother. Instead of telling me to quit lying. She would smile I'll say that maybe I would be a right or one day, a few months earlier, I had taken elizabeth advice and written and submitted a short humorous story for an international horse publication as time
Past I forgot about it and began writing articles in short stories to submit to other horse magazines and then in that morning, when I set my computer and learned that I had actually so my first short story as I've said, I'm not partial de phrases Just the heavenly angel saying the hallelujah course, but I did call my mother my biggest cheerleader, even before I told them children mourning the loss of my father after seventy years of marriage had left her depressed, and I was anxious to share some good news. she didn't mind one bit being awakened at six: a m her silence upon hearing my news that morning was louder than any praise and I knew tat she was catching her breath. Oh honey mom said when she had found her voice. I am as proud as punch
they're going to pay you. Will they print your name on the story? Did you send him a picture? You should always do that being published, didn't seem real until that day, the magazine, along with a cheque for fifty dollars, peered in our mailbox. It was wednesday arch third, two thousand for to be exact and you'd have thought we had won the publishers, clearing house sweepstakes. It was finally, the beginning of my professional career I was sixty six and for the occasion my husband and I pulled out all the stops and celebrated at the golden corral for the early bird senior special. It seems like just yesterday John sitting across the table. Reading my story allowed from time The time laughing ass, though he were reading it for the first time and reaching over to squeeze my hand ever so gently. Of course,
He had already read it aloud to me so that I could hear how it sounded before sending it off. It looks so official in print with a picture even in my name at the top, just beneath the title, competition seeing my it's been holding a magazine containing my story. Validated me as a writer. Somehow People were paying money to read my fictional story about a teenage boy with a crush on a horse, crazy girl, John smoothed, the page carefully ass. He read reminding me of the way dad had caressed into the blue from the book fair. I felt it if I never sold another story. It was ok, my my there was proud and my kids were happy for me, John claim to be not a bit surprised, but you could tell it was a big deal. We ve been at the golden corral. Twenty minutes hadn't, even gotten the buffet line, a friend advised me to open
bank account in my name earning your own money will make. You feel independent peggy. She said. Give you some self worth and John will have a new respect for you. I swear. Does, though, I might take her advice, but I knew better that might work for some couples and that's fine, but for us all that we had was ours as for respect no problems there either. Here is my first ever published story that was responsible for our humble though joyous celebration, I called it competition horsey, humor thick, and by peggy row horse canada. Two thousand for amanda kellerman is a knockout. Trying all year to get to know her, but all she ever talks about is her horse. Last month she came to school with an see bruise on her upper arm? When I asked
her. What happened she said. My horse has a sweet nature, but sometimes he's a little temperamental. It seems this sweet natured horse her. While she was tightening the thing that goes around his waist to hold the saddle and place. Not I blame him away, later Amanda came to school on crutches. I overheard her telling a friend that while she was, rushing dried mud from her horses belly. He showed his appreciation by kicking her legs out from under her a sign of gratitude in horse talk. Apparently I realize that if I am going to get to know this girl before her temperamental horse, does her in I'll have to learn to speak her language. So I get a book from the library called your friend the horse or some such nonsense. It's deadly dull, but I read enough to learn a few words.
See terms I figured might help me get my foot in the stable door Monday morning there. She is at her desk in home room, looking prettier than ever and still in one piece. This is where I impress the heck out of her. So I say casually is your horse a stallion or a gelding, a man that looks at me as though she's never seen me before. Corty is a gelding stallions. Don't make good pleasure horses there too press. If I try to remember another horsey term to throw her, but I'm busy trying to imagine what corti might do to her if he were aggressive. Do you like horses to she asked me who doesn't like horses? I lie, but I'm involved in football right now. Football is so violent, she's as frowning, I glanced at the fading bruise on her arm and laugh. Thank you she's making a joke, but she isn't by the way
say changing the subject it is an unusual name is short for cordial. I always thought that cordial meant friendly and good natured, but it must have another meaning blood, thirsty or murderous. Just then, a man drops her notebook and it flops open on the floor. I looked down and noticed the slipper on her right foot. Oh, that's nothing! Cordy! Accidentally stomped on my foot last night, when I was feeding him, she explains no broken bones: just some bruising and swelling hmm, maybe she's having sex thoughts about MR temperamental sweetness. This is my chance to step in. So I pick up her notebook and see a drawing on the inside cover a big red heart with the name cordial printed in the center. What am I missing here?
I decide to go out on a limb. Would you like to get together some time sure and she smiles that beautiful smile you could come over to my place on saturday I'll, introduce you to corti. It doesn't usually like guys, but maybe you'll be an exception. If he likes you, you can help me groom him. Then we could shovel manure together. The bell, rang so I hand her the notebook. Ah I see you later. I say and head for my seat, it's hard to concentrate, while I'm staring at her long, wavy ponytail, a guy just can't compete with a horse. Then suddenly it comes to me who needs horsey phrase is all just sneak up behind her and the whole. This afternoon and in a sweet, natured, temperamental way jumped down on her arm, then I'll kick around the shin yeah that'll work,
by tomorrow morning. My name will be in a red hard on amandas notebook. Mom had a manic expression when she asked to borrow the magazine for a few days as some of the church ladys would we visiting over the weekend. I knew it was destined for a coffee table where it would be the center of attention as proud as she was, though. My ultimate writing gift to my mother was the article published in guideposts magazine when she was ninety three. It was about her devotion to the baltimore. Orioles and the day she threw out the opening pitch. That magazine travelled the halls of her retirement community in the pocket of her rascal scooter. Like a treasured companion, I regretted that my parents never realized. The full impact they had on my writing life, not to mention the parade of interesting characters who had marched through my childhood relatives, friends
and strangers gave me a window into human nature and the self awareness that is so essential to writers look back on the summer little mary came into my life is embarrassing. I saw her as a nuisance, an intrusion and a threat to my position in the family for shore writing about this summer of nineteen. Forty five has not only revealed my childhood character flaws but has given a brand new appreciation for two parents who walked the walk. I call this story the longest summer, My mother made the announcement: is she cleared the dinner table? Maybe it sound as though it was no big deal by the way
miss Ella has to go to the hospital for a while. So little mary is going to spend a few days with us. This didn't seem unusual. Someone coming to stay with us wasn't a big deal. It seem. There was always somebody mostly relatives using our spare bedroom, except it miss It wasn't a relative just a church friend and she and mom had never seemed particularly close. I should have been set fishes when mom and Mary came through the front door. The next day, with two big suitcases for just a few days, I'd seen the girl round Sunday school before, but at seven years old I hadn't paid much attention into the little five year old. I definitely didn't. Remember her being so pretty mom took me aside: peggy, we need to be especially kind to marry She's never been away from home before, which meant she probably act like a little
mr and follow me around, but that was it as long as she didn't messed with my dog and my stuff. What's a few days when the whole glorious summer lay ahead. She'll sleep in your twin bed, so janet help keep an eye on her and make her feel at home. Mom said you can The spare bedroom with the big bed all to yourself you'll, be like a guest. Won't that be fun. Wait a minute sleep alone. My older sister and I had always shared the front bedroom. Waking up to the cheerful morning, sun pouring through two big windows, but can we keep the door open? and the whole night on can topper sleep with me. Yes, yes, and no he be on your bed in a flash mother of all cardinal rules in our house was no dogs,
on the furniture, no exceptions, not the top or didn't snake on the sofa when mom wasn't around, but he was smart enough. to jump down when he heard her coming. Of course that was no assurance Wooden end up in the dog house anyway, after mom checked the cushions for his body indentation and felt around for warm spot, so it began. The summer of sharing my home and mine. family with royalty and her precious little teddy bear the writing, was on the wall that very first evening at dinner when the string beans for past no. Thank you mary said as though a kid had a choice in our house. I dont like green vegetables. Mommy doesn't make me eat them. I had two chuckled to myself. This was going to be. and he had to hand it to my mother who had no wide eyed eyebrow ray
in dramatics. She simply smiled and placed. The beans on marries played no one going to make you eat anything dear, but it would be nice if he would just taste them. They make you strong, there's a good girl. She said reaching down to areas lap and giving teddy a pat on the head. Who was this syrupy stranger wearing my mother's chequered, apron, certainly not to say woman who spoons mountains of spinach and brussels sprouts onto my plate. Expecting me to Every last leave there was were of the same the next morning and what would you like for breakfast honey I was reminded of the book my mother read to me when I was marries age, the little princess where servants just couldn't do enough for that. child who wanted for nothing. Meanwhile, my breakfast was plugged in front of me, like topper. Bowl of kibble was plopped on the floor beneath the same
My mother's camera was never far away, usually in her apron pocket. You, Mary was her only child and she had to document every fascinating moment of her childhood click, I couldn't really but ever being photographed eating vegetables or a breakfast waffle. Oh well, just a few more days at night, I could hear my eleven year old sister, Mary talking in the bedroom next door, sometimes janet even read a story allowed as Mary hugged teddy. She couldn't do enough for her royal highness, introducing her to bubble bands eating her to play simple simpletons on the piano, while mom picked around the corner click janet even allowed her to tag along when friends came over it, janet and mary Mary
janet click, but I didn't care. I had my dog and my horse. I can still see her sitting at my sister's feed in the evening. Looking every bit like rapunzel as JANET brushed and braided hair long blonde locks instead of playing five hundred only with me click she used to be My hair, when I was little like I was her doll, not that I was sit still for it now to make matters worse. This five year old, was so darned, sweet and good. Just like that, princess in the story. Of course, it was all in act with her, never running through the house or screaming, or getting bubblegum stuck in her hair. It wasn't normal. I felt as if I could run away from home that summer and been missed, that is, until the wet dishes piled up with nobody to dry them and the garbage spilled onto them.
counter with nobody to carry it outside to the can ha when dog droppings entered the back yard. I guarantee you, there have been a search party and suddenly it was July a whole month later and guess who still with us and even more adored by her subjects, if that's possible, her room His highness was now up to four string beans and a whole tablespoon of spinach night she ate one measly brussels sprout you'd have thought she had discovered penicillin. There was that much praise The evening mom served asparagus, she conspired with my sister ahead of time mom these little spears taste so buttery, JANET raved, I'd love them. It worked Mary ate one horse, spear,
click. My mother knew what she was doing all right, like our churches, choir director He was our leader determining when we were too louder needed too. move along faster or slow down. She establish them all right and prompted us when it our turn to carry out the task when it came to the fourth of July. I didn't even men in the big parade downtown my fault There was no longer a fan for the past two years he had refused to take us saying I don't want to get tied up with the parking and all that parade I think I should have known better. All of a sudden, it was say han how about we the children downtown to the fourth of July parade in the morning. I couldn't complain about this one parades where the best with all those lovely horses, even if the poor
and says was our reason. Foregoing dead had been right about that I the crowds we had depart blocks away then maneuver, along the curb to find a spot where we could see the action except for mary. Of course, she had the best seat in the house. high above everyone else on my father's shoulders, where I used to be back in the day is when I was young and cute click. I thought when I was marries age and my mother fell down the steps and broke her foot. I had been sent to stay with aunt Cornelia, where I was homesick every minute of the day my father came to visit me evenings after work. I sat on his lap and cried the entire time and when he could bear it no more. He took me home with him how come
his father never comes to see her. I asked my mother, I thought you knew my mother said speaking in a low voice. Marries father died last year. He was sick for a long time. I guess I didn't tell you. I was coming to terms with something akin to pity and perhaps even a touch of guilt when a scary thought popped into my narcissistic little brain. What, if miss ellen I'd like the father of the little princess in the story. Only instead of mary going to live in an orphanage, my parents adopted her and she came to live with us for ever and ever adopting an orphan was just the sort of thing my parents would
do I have a good idea. Peggy my mother said the following morning: it's a beautiful day. The sun is shining in the birds are singing. Why don't you take Mary out back and introduce or to your horse? You could teach her to ride. She was talking about my pretend horse. Naturally, a cushion on top of the poor those that supported the backyard grapevines, some clothes line for rains and Simone purses for saddlebags. We had no place to keep a real horse, even if we could afford one, or at least that was The story repeated over and over by my parents, like the refer pain of a never ending him. My mother named him cordy after the concord grapes that covered his body in the summer, unlike real horses who shed their coats in the spring court, he shed his grapes and leaves in the fall a horse Mary scream. Jumping up and down. I didn't know you.
a horse, I never. Rode a horse before. Where is it? She took my hand like I was her new best friend and again we went to the backyard by the alley where I helped her to mount my pretend horse. In a few weeks the grapes would ripen there is closed and legs would be stained purple. She sat there for a moment jiggling the reins before asking quite possibly the dumbest question ever. How do you make it go? I shook my head in disbelief and was about to tell her to drop it coin in the slot and push the button. When I saw my mother lurking about with her, you know what click he doesn't move. I said trying to sound patient in he's he's an imaginary horse like your teddy An imaginary bear teddy, doesn't growl or bite. You
or hibernate. In the winter, corti doesn't move you have use your imagination mary, so I told about writing the prairie and rounding up steers on a cattle drive, but really this five. road had no more imagination than the wooden picnic table a few yards away. You almost have to feel sorry for somebody like that. Almost it's hard to feel so. for somebody who steals your bed and your family. Not mention ruining summer vacation, the greatest betrayal four came in august mary had been, the so long that even topper forgot. She was just a visitor and I were again that her mother had died and I'd be stuck with her forever. I awoke extra early that morning and on my way to the bathroom I looked into my own
bedroom awash in cheerful sunlight with the occupants sound asleep. That's when I saw him my pal topper, asleep on my bed beside marry her hand raped over his back as teddy lay forgotten face down on the floor, I gasped quietly resisting the urged cream. Instead, I ran down the hall from my mother, took it that I whispered with all the indignation I could muster. I bet she fed him a cookie I looked up at mom Surely the palace roof was about to fall on her royal highness, but instead my mother ran to her bedroom and returned with click Then she reminded me that Mary would soon be leaving for home. It was music, to my ears and couldn't happen soon enough. I thought about
calling my dog, but was afraid that if he awoke now and saw my mother. While he was on the bed, he would die of fright when the long awaited day finally arrived. My sister and I carried mary suitcases too. Car and rode along mozilla very much alive, greeted us at the door but had is only for her daughter. She wrapped her arms around mary and cried and cried some more as they sat together on the sofa rocking gently side to side neighbours and a relative were visiting, so we didn't stay But as we relieving mom handed marry a photograph album this. For you mary, she said you can show mommy. You ve been doing all summer. Look at this picture. Mommy I heard
We're saying before the door closed behind us. Peggy showed me how to ride her horse. He's imaginary, like teddy, oh I changed teddy's name to cordy. I skipped to the car noticing for the first time, the sunshine and music from the birds and feeling truly grateful and mozilla was alive. The through project up comcast, is helping to build a future of unlimited possibilities from connecting people to the internet, to opening doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and storytellers. Our goal is to create a future that benefits generations to come. That's why we're committing one billion dollars to reach tens of millions of people with the skills, resources and opportunities they need to succeed in a digital world project of building a future.
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Transcript generated on 2022-10-29.