Discovery of the treasure of my mother’s stories came a little late to me. I remember as a child rolling my eyes as she would take off with another tale and let it unravel in twice the time it would take anyone else to tell it. You see, Mom was quite a storyteller. Her stories were always true—well, except for the one she told us about the stray dog. We had fallen in love with him but he wouldn’t let my dad in the house in the evenings. He had to go. To soften the blow, Mom told us about the disabled child who had lost his dog and needed him back. It soothed our feelings at the time and we bought it hook, line, and sinker.
Just because the stories were mostly true however didn’t mean they couldn’t be embellished. And embellishment was Mom’s forte. She included details, the kind of details a writer could hook up to and create the scene, the feelings, the expressions, etc. Perhaps she should have become the writer in the family. Instead, when I began to write, I suddenly realized what a treasure trove of storytelling I had growing up. Mom had set the example of telling a good story.
Mom did have a bit of trouble with words sometimes though. She could never pronounce municipal and maintenance correctly the first time. When she realized she had the accent on the wrong syllable, she would correct herself or at least try to. We would have to laugh when over and over again it would still come out wrong. After all, English was her first and only language.
The most endearing word mix up for my mother was between marjoram and marijuana. For some reason she would always ask for marijuana to season her roast instead of saying marjoram. The mix up was the catalyst for the story that formed in my head and eventually became In A Pickle. What if someone really did get mixed up between marjoram and marijuana and put it into a pickle recipe?
Of course, I had to include one of my mother’s famous stories as well. When you read In A Pickle, you will find that Annie Pickels’ has an intruder in her basement. It’s Mom’s classic tale that got longer and longer the more times she told it. Of course for my story I had to embellish it a bit too. I learned from the best. I don’t think she’d mind if she were here to read it.