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Drowning in Catalogues
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Browsing only for shiny pretty things. Catalouges filled with gadgets and gewgaws and every conceivable thing from clothes to tire irons. When I was married, my husband and I got a moderate amount of catalogues and when I left him my mailbox was blessedly free of the bulky mailers. But when my mother came to live with me gradually they found me. Found us really. It became like the scene in Harry Potter when invitations to Hogwarts come flying through the letter slot in the door. Mountains of catalogues, piles of catalogues, stacks, stuffed in the mailbox and then handed to me in person at the door when the box was full. My mother loved to shop. Any type of shopping was a grand magical adventure. She loved Target, Sears, Macy’s, but even shopping for groceries, or things in a drugstore was fun! As her world grew smaller and she couldn’t drive and ultimately even a trip to the grocery store was tiring catalogues were her refuge. She came by this honestly. My grandmother loved gadgets especially the kind that could be found in catalouges and came through the mail. My mother also said that there was nothing as satisfying and as enjoyable as getting a package in the mail. She loved gadgets that promised to solve life’s little inconveniences or disappointments. The lure of a device that could chop onions without tears or strip the leaves from a stalk of thyme. Countless microwave methods to poach the perfect egg arrived at our doorstop. Not a one worked worth a damn. Slicers, and dicers, contraptions that juiced or made perfect citrus peel. My mother looked forward to each one. She even had Publisher’s Clearing House ban her from ordering things. She was so mad and wrote them a long angry letter. She never got mad at anything. PCH worried that she wasn’t right in the mind…and was trying to protect her but she was sane..just chair bound. The things from catalogues were her excitement. Then there were the catalouges that erased life’s disappointments like age lines and dry skin. She bought numerous creams and ointments always looking for the fountain of youth. The irony of course was that she had lovely skin even till the day she died. Doctors always commented on it..smoothe, blemish free, not too many wrinkles. Maybe she knew more than anyone. Maybe the promise of catalouges is more potent than we think . She ordered from catalouges that solved the problems of the housebound and aging. Potty liners for bedside commodes, devices to help put on socks, and reach those now unreachable places. The last year she was alive, the last months really, every day she would go through those mountains of catalogues religiously looking for birthday presents and Christmas presents. She ordered everything early and a flurry of boxes came every day for the month of November and December. Now I am left with those catalogues. Sometimes 10 or upwards everyday. I have been methodically calling each one and asking to be removed from the mailing list. Sometimes I have to call twice because there is one in my name and hers. I do this because on the one hand I can’t bear to see her lifeline to the world. Those catalogues brought the outside world to her and she loved that. I wonder though if in cutting her ties to the world I am losing her. But catalogues for me are for browsing only. I like to look at the shiny pretty things of this world but I won’t ever order enough from these purveyors of dreams to justify having all those paper shrines to things. Yet, I wonder if I too will inherit the bug to by gadgets to solve all life’s day when I can only sit in a chair.

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