Monthly Archives: February 2014

Following Two Little Girls—From the Playground to the Couch

The story of my book, “That Melvin Bray”, is written from the memories of an adult Maggie as she  relives her past with Lizzy, her best friend of nearly forty years, aka, Dr. Lizabeth Benis, a successful psychiatrist in Boston. As Maggie recants their shared childhood memories, she will also wonder off into her own private thoughts, to you, the reader, allowing an even closer look into her troubled soul.

These two met at the ripe old age of six on the wonderful playground they would share for many years. They were as different as night and day—opposites, however, that was the bonding glue which held them together.

Maggie was six months younger than Lizzy and very attached to her Mother. Lizzy, on the other hand, was more than six months older than Lizzy, in her own mind, that is, and was not very emotionally attached to her Mother, nor anyone else for that matter. She was more like an island unto herself and she preferred it that way. While she loved her parents dearly, she didn’t need to be coddled. Her emotional feelings were just that—hers, and nobody’s business; however, she was observant of others emotions and was sympathetic to their “pain”. It was no wonder she became a psychiatrist. She was very self-confident and driven from a very young age and would grow into a take-charge adult. Being an only child, she learned early on, to be self-reliant and actually preferred her own company to many of her less mature, but same-aged friends. She had no reservations speaking her mind freely and enjoyed interacting with all ages, including adults. She had very loving and devoted parents, fashionable clothes, a beautiful home and basically anything she wanted. However, she was not spoiled in any way and her parents expected much from her reminding her daily that: “To whom much is given, much is expected”. They were devoted to their faiths and raised Lizzy in the loving arms of their church.

Maggie was the sixth child of nine children and did not have a new dress of her very own, until she was eight years old, and until then, she wore the hand-me-downs of her three older sisters. She was sympathetic, obedient, playful, loved to laugh and was emotionally dependent on her devoted  mother. Being the sixth child of nine children, she was very comfortable sharing her feelings with any of them, as she was extremely close to all her them, who also, were dependent on the love of their mother. She and her siblings attended church every Sunday with their mother and aunt, but not their father, who was an alcoholic and didn’t attend church but once in a blue moon. Needless to say, Maggie was not a spoiled child either; she didn’t know the meaning of the word.

These two little girls, opposites in so many ways, grew up sharing their very uniquely different lives, as a result of their two loving mothers’ dedication to the nurturing of this sweet friendship, which was borne on that giant fun-filled playground! As the years would pass and as Life would have it, this incredible friendship would experience heaven and endure hell.

Over the years, Maggie and Lizzy would be faced with many challenges. They would learn to take care of each other in ways that no one else could. They would build a bond like no other, which would last a life time, and this bond would not only change their lives, but the lives of so many, in miraculous ways!

In the end, Maggie would find herself on Dr. Lizabeath Benis’s couch, and as Maggie would often say to you, the reader, “Somebody help me!”

God is Good. God is Great!!

Love yourself and do good things…

Margaret

Chapter 17: The Good Bad Deed

That Melvin Bray: Chapter 17

The Good Bad Deed

There are times when each of us has to have some gumption to take a stand as to what we wish to preserve or change in order to maintain our self-respect and not be as “a reed shaken with the wind.” —John Milton, poet, quoting from Matthew 11:7

The next year passed by mostly painfully and mostly slowly for all of us.

According to Lu, though, apparently Aunt Lucy made Daddy one of those offers he couldn’t refuse. She sold her little house and moved into the big house with us. The first thing she did was have her phone line moved to our house. That was a good thing; ask the Browns. Aunt Lucy just couldn’t accept the absence of indoor plumbing, though; she was so civilized. She began looking for another house to buy that would be suitable for all of us.

With the events of that tragic year of loss, Aunt Lucy had been dealt yet another bad hand, and she was well aware of the wild card—our daddy, the Monster, Mr. Hyde—and wasn’t about to give him even one inch.

She had inherited an infant, a three-year-old, and seven more to look after and bring up. It seemed that life never failed to pile just one more “little” thing on this woman’s proud but able-to-carry-only-so-much-at-one-time shoulders. Aunt Lucy laid down her law with Daddy, with a zero tolerance for anything alcohol-related. Her terms were simple: If he ever laid another hand on anyone or anything in that house, it would be his last time laying a hand on anything. And the first time he dared to show up there drinking would be the last time he showed up period.

Mother had been buried almost one year to the day when Lu turned eighteen and was about to graduate from high school. She had an old Ford that Mr. Brown had gotten cheap and fixed up for her to help us after Mother died. He let her fill up the gas tank every Sunday night over at his garage and refused to take any money from Aunt Lucy. Yep, Mr. Brown was a keeper.

I hope you enjoy this little excerpt from my book, That Melvin Bray!

God is great, God is good!

Margaret

It’s All About the Characters!!

Hi, it’s me again, Margaret!

Today I’ll introduce you to the characters in my book. When I first realized I was actually writing a book, I imagined some real-life, true-blue “characters” to tell my story for me. So, it came to me that I wouldn’t have to look very far for my cast —they were sitting right there…in my heart! Of course, my very own siblings, why not?! I changed their names to “protect the innocent” but I did use their descriptions and personalities for my main characters. Being one of them myself and loving them all so much, it was so comfortable and natural with them as I wrote the story. Each day as I headed to my office to write, I would feel the excitement churning inside me because I knew I was about to rejoin them all in my story for at least another couple of hours that day, and this time with them was always so very special to me. Sadly, my mother, father, both my brothers and aunt had all passed away before I actually started my book, so it was an even greater joy to have them “back” with me and help me write my story, and believe me, they did just that! So here we go…

Cast of Characters—The Chillton Children (oldest to youngest):  Lu, P.C., Ali, Lee, Paddy, Maggie, Lainey, Fay, Mae

Daddy: Charles Phillip Chillton (“Chill”)

Mother: Lillian O’Malley Chillton

Aunt Lucy: Lillian’s twin sister

The Chilton kids were just good kids as a result of the love of their devoted Mother, Lillian,  and her twin sister, Aunt Lucy. All the siblings adored both their Mother and Aunt Lucy, who are the backbone of this story. These siblings experienced both great joy and happiness from the love of their Mother and aunt, but sadly they also had to endure great sorrow and even horror, from their father, an abusive alcoholic. However, it was the strength within each child, plus their combined strengths and devout allegiance to one another that made it possible for them to survive the life they were born into.

Title Characters: Maggie Chillton, Lizzy Benis

The story opens with Maggie visiting her best friend, Dr. Lizabeth Benis in Boston in 1989.

These two first met on the playground in first grade in 1953. The things they had most in common were their opposites:

  • Maggie was timid/Lizzy was opinionated
  • Maggie was playful and open/Lizzy was restrained and guarded
  • Maggie was one of nine children/Lizzy was an only child
  • Maggie’s Father was an alcoholic/Lizzy’s Father was a teetotaler
  • Maggie’s Father worked as little as possible/Lizzy’s Father worked seven days a week
  • Maggie’s Father didn’t go to church/Lizzy’s Father founded a church for the needy
  • Maggie’s Father abused his children/Lizzy’s Father adored his child
  • Maggie’s Mother worked in a mill six days a week/Lizzy’s Mother was a stay at home Mom
  • Maggie’s family lived in old rented houses/Lizzy’s family lived in a small mansion
  • ….and the list goes on; however, what these two did share alike to their very core, was their  faith and love for the One who gave them their greatest gift ever: their wild, crazy but cherished lives!

Only heaven knows what mission was planned for those two little characters out there on that playground in early September, 1953 and as this story unfolds, I believe you’ll agree that it’s all about the characters!!

(AMAZON.COM – “That Melvin Bray” by Margaret McBride)

God is Good. God is Great!!

Live like you mean it…

Margaret

Everlasting Life…We all have One!!

Hi, it’s me again, Margaret!

A good friend of mine shared this wonderful little story with me today and it touched my heart so, that I just had to pass it onto you:

A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner, the people were in and out of the cold.
The little boy was so cold that he wasn’t trying to sell
many papers.

He walked up to a policeman and said,
”Mister, you wouldn’t happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and it’s awful cold in there for tonight.
 Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay.”

The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, “You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come out the door you just say John 3:16, and they will let you in.”

So he did. He walked up the steps and knocked on the
door, and a lady answered. He looked up and said, “John 3:16.” The lady said, “Come on in, Son.”

She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a great big old fireplace, and she went off. The boy sat there for a while and thought to himself: John 3:16…I don’t understand it, but it sure makes
a cold boy warm. Later she came back and asked him “Are you hungry? “
He said, “Well, just a little. I haven’t eaten in a couple of days, and I guess I could stand a little bit of food,”

The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn’t eat any more. Then he thought to himself: John 3:16…Boy, I sure don’t understand it but it sure
makes a hungry boy full.

She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub
filled with warm water, and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: John 3:16 …
I sure don’t understand it, but it sure makes a dirty boy
clean. You know, I’ve not had a bath, a real bath, in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that big old fire hydrant as they flushed it out.  The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room, tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him good night and turned out the lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the window at the snow coming down on that cold night, he thought to himself: John 3:16 …I don’t understand it but it sure makes a tired boy rested.

The next morning the lady came back up and took him
down again to that same big table full of food. After he ate, she took him back to that same big old split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a big old Bible. She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face…
”Do you understand John 3:16?” she asked gently. He
replied, “No, Ma’am, I don’t. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it,” She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain to him about Jesus Right there, in front of that big old fireplace, he gave his heart and life to Jesus. He sat there and thought: John 3:16 — don’t understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.

“I do love God. He is my source of existence. He keeps me functioning each and every day and I have to confess I don’t understand it either, how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don’t understand the agony of the Father and every angel in heaven as they watched Jesus suffer and die. I don’t understand the intense love for ME that kept Jesus on the cross till the end. I don’t understand it, but it sure does make life worth living. John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

This story of a little boy in all his innocence, touched my heart and my hope is that it will speak to you as well, because there’s a big message here.

Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father.” (Phil 4:13)

So today, I’ll leave you with this—from me to you…

Father in Heaven, may You bless this person in whatever it is that You know he or she may be needing this day. In your holy, sweet name, I pray. Amen.

God is Good. God is Great!

Love,

Margaret

So Who Is That Margaret McBride, Anyway?

The “Great Pretender”, that’s who! At least that’s what I’ve finally come up with to describe myself in my book, after sixty+ years of walking on Earth. However, a couple of years ago I changed that to my new handle—”Just Plain Margaret”. Since “That Melvin Bray” got published in November, 2014, I no longer pretend. OK, I admit it, I still pretend or dream at least, that I’m going to win the biggest Lottery Jackpot ever. I just can’t help myself…who knows, maybe I will.

While writing my book though, I made-up with myself and put the past where it belongs. I’m comfortable in my own skin now. I’ve been happy and I’ve been sad, but happy’s so much better!!

After High School I moved from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., where I got my first real JOB and I loved it. It was a huge camera shop with a photo finishing lab which serviced the Pentagon. I met a lot of influential people and made a lot of friends in high places. Gosh, I was only nineteen years old, but I was short ‘n cute and blessed with the gift-of-gab, which was a God-given tool that worked in my favor. Then one of those “high-places” friends hooked me up with a big ad agency in DC  for an audition for a leading part in a national TV ad campaign. Well, wouldn’t you know I got the part and married the director. We left DC and moved to Atlanta.

Fast forward: I was “married for ten years and had two children”, then that changed to “divorced with two kids”—not my favorite description of myself, but necessary—for everyone. Life goes on.

Then I met husband #2 and we’ve been just plain happy together for thirty years now and live twenty miles outside Atlanta. We have five grandchildren ages 4 to 23 and I have two words which describe those kids perfectly: Totally Awesome!!

I’ve had a wonderful time these past twenty-five years in a variety of personally rewarding situations. I spent several years working in the Country Music industry managing artists and concert-touring all over—in and out of the country; quite an experience on many levels of life. It was both demanding and rewarding at the same time; shoot, I loved it but thankfully knew when it was time to get outta dodge and just go home, lie down and get eight-straight for once in a decade! It sure was fun, but quite an adjustment getting back into the real world.

I took a couple of years off, then jumped into the world of commercial real estate in a booming town. Worlds apart from the unreal world or “celebrity-isim”, but still an exciting and challenging change for me.

Finally, four years ago I retired from the “outside” world and entered the “inside—Me” world and began writing my first novel, “That Melvin Bray.”

Along the way of my professional journey, I’ve had to let go of many loved ones…this too is part of the “life goes on” part of one’s life. In my case, in each passing, I said “I sure am going to miss you, but until we see each other again” to my incredible Mother, father, two crazy-funny brothers, one really cool sister, best aunts, favorite uncles, sweetest niece, wonderful in-laws, awesome sister-in-law, my very special brother-in-law, who was the minister who baptized me, and several dear friends. The grief and pain from these separations were so great at times, and my heart so full of sorrow and loss, that I felt lost myself. But life goes on and if we choose to move forward and embrace what we still have here and are yet to receive, we may find that we’re bestowed numerous incredible gifts! So it really does matter how we choose to “see” our own unique situation. The glass is definitely not ALWAYS “half empty”, ya know?

Since wrestling with my own broken heart and personal dreams, I’ve learned to cherish and honor as much of every day as I possibly can. I’m human though, and sadly there are many times I fail miserably, but He always picks me up and points me back in the RIGHT direction.

God is good, God is great!!

Have a fabulous day, whatever you do!
❤️Just Plain Margaret