Typically, junk mail causes me to sigh, roll my eyes, head straight for the closest trash receptacle, maybe even get a blood pressure check...it rarely makes me smile.
There's one catalog, however, that always makes me chuckle.
My Granny was a junk-mail queen. Among her garage sale plastic flowers, Conway Twitty 8-tracks and homemade yarn kittens, we could always find items she purchased from Fingerhut. Trinkets, dust collectors, most of it junk. All Granny. She bought a lot of flowered hand towels, probably from Fingerhut. She cut them in half, crocheted across the top, attached a button so the towel could be looped over a drawer handle, and gave them away as gifts.
Granny was little more than a feather. Barely five feet tall, she probably weighed a hundred pounds on a good day. She struggled with heart disease and several other health concerns, so she didn't have a lot of good days in her last years. She may have been small, but she was anything but weak. She raised nine children. She worked in a diner on Broad Street in St. Louis, Missouri. When she felt well, she was always on the go.
When I was about ten years old, my mother took my younger sister and I, my aunt and her boys, and Granny to a local park. The kids were all playing on the swings and slide. Mom and Aunt Joyce decided to enjoy a trip down the slide as well. Not to be outdone, Granny nimbly climbed the steps and began the trek down the shiny metal. Apparently, Granny had, over the years, forgotten how to gracefully bring yourself to a halt at the bottom of the slide. KERPLUNK!! Into the dust Granny landed, directly on her tailbone, legs out straight in front of her. I can still see the look of complete shock on her face. As soon as her daughters were sure she wasn't badly injured, they did what all good children do when their seventy year old mother falls off a slide...they burst into raucous laughter.
Around this same time, I recall sitting in Doc's Place, an ice cream shop, in Homer, Michigan where I grew up. Granny was relaying to my mother a story that my aunt had shared with her. I do not have a clue what the story was about, but I can remember that it involved how gravity affects a woman's upper body parts. My grandmother, being the proper lady she sometimes was, didn't want to mention this issue in front of my sister and I, but she wanted to make the point to my mother. Sitting at the table across from me, grinning and eating her ice cream, she kept drawing her hand down her chest. "You know, how they...you know...fall...down". I'm not quite sure why she thought that I wouldn't know to what she was referring!
Granny made The. Best. Dinner. Rolls. Ever. THE BEST. Try as we might, no one in the family has ever been able to duplicate the taste of Granny's bread. Countless times, we asked her to write down her recipe. "Oh, you just throw a little of this and a little of that in and stir it all up."
So you can probably sense my frustration when my bread machine malfunctions on Thanksgiving Day and I get this! (Great for having Communion with the family, though!)
Granny has been gone for 21 years. She would love my children. They would love her fuzzy TV with rabbit ears, her crocheted slippers, her bread.
Granny, I miss you.