What Mary Said

Every three years, my wife’s  extended family gather in central Nebraska for a family reunion.  It  starts on a Friday night and ends Sunday after breakfast.

Saturday night is the talent show.

Singing, piano songs, tap dance, guitar.  One of the uncles brought some pottery pieces last time and talked about that. It’s open to everyone.  You just never know what to expect.

We’re about a month out from the next reunion…


I was sitting in the lounge area three years ago, waiting for my wife at the end of the weekend.  One of her cousins with two little ones sat down on the couch opposite me.   The older girl  had performed in the talent show the night before. Her name was Mary.

I told her she’d done an awesome job in the talent show the night before.

Takes a lot of guts to stand up in front of seventy people, you barely know and sing a solo.

Mary singing in the talent show - Copy

Mary singing  in the talent show.

“Thanks.” she said.  “What’s your talent?”

Took me totally off guard.

She looked at me with the most intense, matter of fact expression.

 “Did you perform  in the talent show?” 


“Why not?”

I mumbled something lame about being good in the audience.

Her question caught me off guard.  I remember mumbling something about promising to do something next time.


I have thought about Mary and her questions for three years.

What’s your talent?

And why not?

The talent show is not about being better than the next person, or winning a prize.  It is about sharing a piece of my life  for the encouragement and enjoyment of the rest.

I am not a great singer.  I dabble in music.  Yes I was in choir, until the teacher asked me to be apart of a guy/ girl singing group where I would have to dance and sing.  I didn’t think so.   Yes I had 5 years of piano lessons and 2 years of organ lessons.  Yes I played the trumpet in jazz band.  Yes I know some basic chords on the acoustic guitar and can read music.  But sharing any of that in a family talent show?  None of that really lights a fire in me now.  So for the past three years I have been wracking my brain about what talent or story or hobby to bring with me to the next talent show, because I gave my word to Mary you know.

Yesterday morning it clicked.

I know what I am going to do. 🙂


What about you? What would you say to Mary? What part of your life could you share with the rest of us  and sitting on the sidelines was not an option?  Because, here’s the deal.  I believe, in the big scheme of things,  each and everyone of us is a walking, talking repository of life stories, life skills, life lessons, meant not just for ourselves to hoard, and keep stashed away, but to share as well.

Where does the fire burn?  Do you love to garden?  What are some of the favorite things you grow and why? What are some gardening tricks you’ve learned over the years?  Art, do you love to paint, draw, work with your hands? Give me details!   Have you been given abilities to fix things with your hands?  Tell me a story about something that had you stumped, then figured out how to fix.   Are you good with children, older people, the sick?  Tell me a funny story about that.  Do you love the outdoors?  Why? What is it about the outdoors that brings you joy?  Do you live in a big city?  Tell me a story about life in the big city that will make me laugh…or surprise me because of the kindness of a stranger.

You’re up next. 🙂   DM


Here’s a link to a blog post about this same encounter written three years ago, right after it happened. To be totally honest, I’d forgotten I’d written it.  It showed up on my screen this morning after I posted the new one.  Maybe my clutch is starting to slip.  


19 thoughts on “What Mary Said

  1. Bless Mary.
    In 1965, I was due to recite The Dog’s Meeting at my brother’s wedding reception. Dad had spent hours teaching it to me until I was word perfect. I chickened out, and played The Carnival is Over on the piano instead, earning myself the grand sum of five bob (25p in today’s money). I still remember the Dog’s meeting though! You can read it here:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love, love, love
      ! This is exactly what I’m talking about Di. Will read that later today. Kids are starting to arrive for the festivites around the house this weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mum went to a Show and Tell at her ladies group a few years ago, and took my poem The Search for Mum’s Brain to read. Apparently it went down very well. I’d done a sequel to it, both of which she framed and hung on her bedroom wall. Although I have them both, I haven’t copied them into my blog yet.


  2. Doug, you’ve done a good job of not sharing what you’ve decided to do at the talent show! Nice try!! Sing? Dust off your trumpet? I’m guessing it’s not going to be a dance!

    We used to have a talent show for our grandparents in Christmas Eve before we went to bed. I remember one year I played some Christmas carol using glasses filled with various amounts of water to make different notes when struck with a spoon. It made a change from singing or playing the piano. You could try that. 😉 I’ll add that neither my husband nor our sons ever embraced that as a tradition we should continue! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely no dancing 🙂 I’ll probably hold off sharing what I plan to do until after the fact, in case I change my mind. Good Christmas eve memory! I remember lining up with all the cousins to get our picture taken before we could get our presents @ my grandparents Christmas eve get- together.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is exactly what blogging feels like! I know telling a story will be part of my presentation…for sure my interaction with Mary from 3 yrs ago to set the stage for why I am up there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Singing, dancing, an instrument…likely not on my list for a talent show item, but I can make and cook in an amazing box oven! Thanks to my time as a Girl Scout Leader, and various campouts during and even after with my family when GScouting was over, we cooked up some yummy deserts all thanks to that oven I learned how to make. The process in it’s entirety might be a bit too long for a single act in a talent show, but I betcha everyone would be willing to sample a cake or some brownies from my oven!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is a box oven one of those little ovens for little girls with a light bulb? I remember those being advertised on TV when I was little…not sure if it’s the same or not. Way to think “outside the box.” On a totally unrelated topic…how’s work going and life in your corner of the world?

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      • You caught me reading early this morning DM! Good gracious no, a box oven is a thing of beauty, made from a cardboard box, covered in heavy duty foil inside and out, then outfitted inside with oven “racks” made from wire coat hangers. You add a pan of glowing coals in the bottom, and presto- an amazing and fully workable oven when one doesn’t exist at your campsite. Let me suggest a google search of Girl Scout Box Oven for some images.
        Work is going well, although busy again as we wait for a new person to start. Summer has arrived, the granddaughters and I get outside for adventures, my little flower garden is thriving and I am trying to walk more for my health. I love this time of year. Right now the birds are singing outside my open window as I write. It is a work morning, then lounging under the tree with one of the daughters and a fish taco dinner. Life is good Doug!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hanging out with the grand kids is the best! I had some grandchild time myself yesterday. The whole tribe is back this weekend….3 of them were playing in the gravel dust in our driveway last night. I told them they reminded me of chickens taking a dust bath. (ages 3 and 4). Simple times are the best.

          Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 Your comment warmed my heart! Like I said to someone in an earlier comment, I will definitely talk about how Mary’s question motivated me to take the stage in my intro.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think you should tell a story ~ you have a way with words and crafting a tale …

    At Church today one of the Deacons asked for folks to join the “God-Given Talent” group – it made me think, too. I haven’t yet joined, but his request made me ponder my talents 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

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