Since I was in fourth grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I knew it for two reasons. First, writing was easy for me. Second, my mom, Joan Trulio, told me I was going to be one. She told me over and over and over again.
And when the first story I was paid to write — a satire on restaurant trends — got published in a long-gone magazine called L.A. West in the mid-1980s, no one was more proud than my mom. No matter where my career took me, from newspapers to trade publications to Powerboat magazine, she was my most loyal reader. She loved to see my byline, and every time she received an issue of Powerboat she’d call me and tell she had read whatever I’d written that month.
“I just like to see your name on the stories,” she’d say. “I never get tired of it.”
Last Saturday, Joan Trulio died. She was an 89-year-old firecracker from Queens, N.Y., a divorcee who raised my brother, sister and me on her own. She had financial support from our father, which didn’t hurt given that we lived a very middle-class life in a predominantly affluent Southern California beach town.
But beyond that, she was flying solo with three children in a community where most of the other kids had unlimited access to everything but good parenting.
On that front, we were the richest kids in town. Actions had consequences. Grades mattered. Family mattered even more. Skipping college was not an option in our household.
“You can be a garbage man for all I care,” she used to tell me. “But you’ll be an educated garbage man.”
(For the record, my mom had nothing against waste disposal professionals. I think she chose the garbage man example because our local waste disposal crew befriended me when I was a little kid, and every week they’d let me ride up and down our street with them on their trash truck. But I digress.)
The first language in our home was English. The second was sarcasm. Guests who weren’t skilled in both didn’t last long, especially around the dinner table when our conversations turned political and the volume jumped up. Regardless of the food on our plates, the real nightly dinner fare in our home was heated debate.
I don’t know who was happier — mom or me — when I got hired by Powerboat in 1994. And so the magazine’s subscriber base immediately grew by one reader, albeit one who didn’t care about powerboats. Hell, she couldn’t even swim. Though in a pinch my mom would read a boat review if she knew I’d written it, she preferred the pieces I authored on people and places and events in the high-performance powerboat world. She wasn’t shy with her opinions about my writing and I valued her critique.
Plus, she was my mom — so she was never that hard on me. Truth be told, I think she liked calling me “my son, the writer” as much or more as she did reading what I wrote.
I am a writer because Joan Trulio encouraged me to be one. If you’ve enjoyed my work during the years — and all of my stuff on the Internet was beyond her reach thanks to Alzheimer’s disease and her general fear of technology — you can credit her. If you haven’t, you can blame me for not rising to the challenge.
Either way, I’m going to miss my most loyal reader.
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.