Confessions of a Hybrid Fruit


Secrets are about to be spilled.

I have another identity.  My husband Jim did as well.  We both commented under, shall we say, specialized names, on two very different websites.

I am not at liberty to disclose Jim’s site or four-syllable nom-de-plume, but I can say he authored some mighty entertaining limericks and haiku.

Mine is a blog to which I came during the 2008 election season.  Jim and I both daily surfed Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight and a number of other politically-oriented sites and blogs, but there was one site in which I settled as a member of a cyber-community.

My name is Quince, and I am a Mudpuppy.

My name was chosen on a whim from the sturdy fruit—somewhat of a cross between an apple and a pear—which grows so bountifully on a tree outside my husband’s dream home that the tree lists dramatically to the right (at odds with the family’s political sentiments), nearly to the ground, after years of bearing its autumnal burden.

I was drawn in by the wit and wisdom of the blog author’s posts, then enfolded in the spirited fun and lively, free-ranging discussions on the site’s forum.

I bring this up because it has illuminated for me facets of friendship and community in this age.  I have been befriended by people I have never met in person.  Candles were lit for my husband on at least three continents.  As we planned my husband’s memorial service around an empty table, a delivery of abundant food arrived from an amazing member of this forum who lives five states away.  I found out later that she even had called one of my sisters-in-law to find out how many vegetarians would be on hand.

In real-life I know a few other forum members, but for the most part–as far as I know, given that we all post under other names–I would not know others were we to come face-to-face.

I wonder if I would know them by their voices, because, as Honoré de Balzac wrote in Père Goriot about good old-fashioned letters, the way one uses written language is  so distinctive, “so faithful an echo of the speaking voice that to the sensitive it is among the richest treasures of love.”

During the same period when someone who had been a member of my family for a quarter-of-a-century (and evidently was embittered towards one of my siblings) did not offer a single word to Jim or me (although I later found she had invested the effort to “defriend” us both as Jim was dying) there were good-hearted people I knew only through their words who offered immense support, including an impartial ear.

To be able to speak freely to kind people who did not know Jim was a unique gift in a situation where everyone close to Jim and me had his or her own emotional pain and shock to deal with.

The phrase “the gift that keeps on giving” has developed a certain ironic cachet, and I’ve used it myself in eye-rolling political commentary.  Members of this particular cyber-community helped me look at a perennial gift in another way.

Weeks after my husband’s diagnosis I returned from an oncology appointment with him and found a box that had traveled across the continent, carrying magenta flowers from a  member of my cyber-community.  This kindness not only was a gift in itself, but also instantly brought back other wonderful gifts—the wildflowers Jim picked and brought to me at the hospital the morning after our first child was born, the sunny coral and yellow roses my friend Barbara sent when our winter daughters were born, the Christmas flowers a detective sent to me when (in my real-life day job) we had just wrapped up a wildly entertaining investigation that had devolved into wiretapping the dumbest-ever drug dealers we had encountered–so much so that arresting them seemed less than sporting.

Whether it is tangible or not, the unexpected gift will be remembered.

(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon

Author: Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She attended law school near the the banks of the Charles River and loves that dirty water; she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2023 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.

15 thoughts on “Confessions of a Hybrid Fruit”

  1. Sending you love & cyberhugs from someone else who has received many wonderful tangible and intangible gifts from the wonderful community of Mudpuppies.

  2. Pacos_gal here, mudpuppy all the way baby!

    Hugs Quince, can I call you that here?!

    Well, I cried when I read your post. It brought back memories of when my father passed away and I spent all those hours at the hospital, at the hotel waiting to return to the hospital on the laptop with my mudpup friends (and they are friends!). They got me through it somehow, when everyone that was there, that wasn’t there but still knew him and the family, were just too close. Then when it was all over but the tears, which are never Really over, just maybe put away for another day, I came home and there were beautiful flowers on my doorstep within a day and a teddy bear that still holds a place of prominence in the house. What a really wonderful community.

    I love your blog Quince. It is full of so much realness, that some days it just seems to take your breath away.

    Take care, and hugs again.

  3. I’m simply head to toe covered in mud. 😀
    I have never seen a quince tree, never eaten a quince – not even with a runcible spoon – but I am happy to know Quince and enjoy this new blog.

  4. It’s a wonderful blog, Quince, and we missed you while you were gone. Many of us are quite happy to wallow in the mud!

  5. I’m enjoying reading your blog, Quince- you write so beautifully. I’m also so glad to have you back among the mudpups again!

  6. Thank you, Quince. Speaking of gifts, this entry was a lovely unexpected one. Of all the things I am thankful for regarding the opportunities, and experiences I’ve had because of the blog, the community of Mudpuppies has been the thing I am most grateful for. The cyber-world in all its electronic wonder can indeed lead to connections of the “real” variety – through flowers, through words, and through human feeling. The support I have been fortunate enough to enjoy, and the support Mudpups have given each other is truly breathtaking. Thank you again.

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