Yesterday, when BB retrieved the mail, he laughed and handed me the catalog for the Vermont Country Store, which had wended its way back to my postbox after an absence of two or three years at the least. And I thought to myself that this was Mum's doing, taking time in whatever timeless realm she dwells to tell me she loves me.
A little explanation.
The Vermont Country Store is a company that knows its audience, the generation that is anywhere from 10 to 30 years older than me, who loves, remembers, and yearns for a lot of the things they remember from their childhoods in the 1930s through 1960s - that childhood being, I judge, largely white, scrabbling upward-bound lower class to lower upper class (so, my people.) It plays on their hapless nostalgia by offering for sale those things that are no longer easy to find on store shelves, either by finding the goods, or someone who makes a reasonable facsimile of the goods, along with comforting descriptions and commentary in the catalog, pretty clearly written to appeal to its target demographic. Most of it's vastly overpriced, whether that's muu-muus, old-fashioned makeup or manual typewriters, or "real oilcloth" picnic table covers, but that doesn't matter to the people who use the catalog.
My mother loved a couple of the items that you can get via the catalog, most of which can't be purchased directly in Canada (or at least she couldn't find them.) So one year long ago, she got me a subscription to the catalog, and asked me to get her some Boroleum (sort of like Vicks Vapo-rub for the inside of one's nose. Don't ask) for her birthday. I did, and I also found myself rather amusingly taken with the catalog. I never bought anything in it that wasn't immediately sent to my mother, so it became both something that always reminded me of her, and something that played to the same nostalgic instincts these folks inculcated in their audience. Hey, I'm not too proud to admit to that nostalgia in myself.
Yesterday, the day before Mother's Day, the catalog arrives again. I knew it was her.
I suppose this isn't much of a Mother's Day post. But I realized that the memory of my mother elicits in me the same nostalgic yearning, on a deeper, richer level. I loved her deeply, and still do. She gave me love and comfort, wisdom and patience, at every step of my life. She also gave me laughter, and understanding, and a love of words.
Beyond every thing she was to and for me, she was beautiful in her own right. She was was gentle, stubborn, and smarter than she ever gave herself credit for, and an altogether admirable woman.
I miss her; as an occasional believer, I'm hopeful of seeing her again, but my belief's an occasional thing, so hope and hurt exist together.
Then again, there are days when a catalog lands in my mailbox, and I know it's my mother, and I am obscurely comforted.
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