Who Writes This Stuff?

I opened my email absentmindedly, with only half my attention. I figured it was notification of a regular payment.

No, no it wasn’t.

Mother's Day ad

I didn’t quite gasp but my full attention was engaged now, for sure. I can’t see Mom this Mother’s Day, as it turns out, and I’m damned if I see how I can show up for her either.

We’re coming up on the fourth anniversary of Mom’s death in June, so an ad in my inbox that assumes my mother is alive seems wrong. Inappropriate. Presumptuous. Inconsiderate. Ignorant. Risky.

After all, we’re not talking about a TV or radio or magazine ad or a highway billboard, clearly aimed at the masses. To misinterpret that as a personal communication would be illogical; to take offence would be overly sensitive. But an email from a company I do business with feels personal.

Maybe it wouldn’t have caught my attention except that I’m into a new phase. I’ve been through the go-to-tell-her-something-and-catch-myself-when-I-remember-she’s-dead phase, which lasted about six months. I’ve been through the I’ve-stopped-thinking-I-should-tell-her-things-because-her-death-has-sunk-in phase, which lasted for a few years. But in the last year sometime I’ve come full circle back to the go-to-tell-her-something-and-catch-myself-when-I-remember-she’s-dead phase, albeit without the same degree of anguish as the first time around. I don’t think it’s a sign of cognitive difficulties. I just figure I lived 65 years with her in my life and I’ve lived only 4 years with her out of it: Old habits die hard. Or not at all.

As to when random, mother-unrelated companies even started selling stuff for Mother’s Day and a whole three weeks before the event, I don’t know. I do know that I’m considering offering a service where I check ads for unforced errors like these. I mean, would this be so hard?


No, no it wouldn’t.

I think I’ll call Mom and tell her about it. She’ll think it’s funny.


This entry was posted in Feeling Clearly, Language and Communication, Mortality and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Who Writes This Stuff?

  1. Memories of laughter shared may be more ephemeral than some other memories but well worth reaching for. Thanks for setting me thinking about the things that made my mother smile, chuckle, and burst out laughing.

    To the comment on Freeland’s budget to the right on this page, I would refer to Jim Taylor’s blog piece today and ask again the question I posed to him: Why do you conclude by asking how economies (economists) will work with “universal debt” rather than by asking how they will work with “universal credit”?

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Thanks for defining that circle of “Tell Mom” — or, in my case, “tell Joan” — that recurs. And recurs. You’re further along the cycle than I am. I wonder what the further stage is. Does one ever get over wanting to share an experience, a memory, an insight, with a loved one who has died? And mustn’t it be @#$%^&* lonely NOT to want to tell someone?

    Jim T

    P.S. Thanks to Laurna for the plug: https://quixotic.ca

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – I always figure it was a straight-line progression. The reality is quite different. And yes, I think it would be lonely indeed to lack the impulse to reach out, as well as the person.

    • barbara carlson says:

      It’s been 10 years for me and I just the other day thought Mom would find that funny. It was she who put in my “funny” button so I just thanked her doing it instead. The best that could be done.

      • Isabel Gibson says:

        Barbara – It’s like a relay race. We carry our mothers (& others) forward, they must have carried theirs, and so on back to the beginning of mothers. And others. Soon-ish it will be our turn to pass the baton.

  3. Tom Watson says:

    That shows the duality in things. Whoever wrote that ad obviously didn’t think of the possible impact on someone who doesn’t have a mother.

    When I was minister, a day of celebration was whenever we had a baptism. A new child. A new life. A new beginning. After church one day, a woman confided in me that baptisms were a downer for her. Why? Because she was in her 50s, never married, and would never have children. So a baptism represented a sense of loss and regret.


    • Jim Taylor says:

      Tom, back in 1982 when I was a volunteer for Youth Forum at General Council, the youth and adults had a combined session on baptism, sitting together in table groups. The adults took it for granted that baptism was about their children. The young people were baffled. They had never had children. They didn’t think in terms of children. If they thought about baptism at all, it was about THEM.

      Jim T

      • Tom Watson says:

        Interesting, Jim. I can see that.

        As an aside, my daughter Sandra was a volunteer for Youth Forum in 1990 in London.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – It’s a problem, I can see that. We can’t stop celebrating because not everyone can engage at the same level or, worse, ends up feeling badly. We’d never do anything. But it’s good to really get someone else’s perspective.

  4. I agree that these ads are insensitive and blatantly related to money. I have got faster on the delete button as time has passed.

  5. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – the unwanted email in your inbox was yet more proof that one-size DOES NOT fit all, even if it is easier for the marketer or policy-wonk.

Comments are closed.