Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mrs. Brown's Handbag

“I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.”
-C.S. Lewis

When she was a child my mother became the victim of sunstroke and subsequently was racked with a ghastly fever. In the middle of it all a familiar neighbour called in to extend afternoon greetings.
Strictly speaking, Mrs. Brown did not actually visit the house or attend the bedroom, but to Mater's tormented, delusional eye that did not matter a whit. There was the woman from down the road perched with an air of benevolence on the edge of the bed, embracing a handbag. Being no ordinary vision, it was no commonplace handbag; and later, when Mater was lucid again, she described the outlandish accessory to anybody that would lend an ear.
The item was colossal. It was more vast than any handbag had reason to be and it obscured more than half of the tiny woman's figure.
The scene was a pronounced indication that all was not right. Since succumbing to the illness the junctures of time had been illustrated by a collection of indiscriminate jumbled odds and ends. Mater's bewilderment was punctuated by the sight of Mrs. Brown's grotesque handbag, for reasons likely pertaining to Mater's earnest desire to possess a handbag of her own. The overemphasised image of a favourite object was one of such startling absurdity that it prompted the ailing child to gather her senses and embark on the return journey to reality.
Mater's fever dwindled to an insignificant point and evaporated, but a predilection for handbags is still kindled today like a warm remnant inside her. She routinely wanders over to the store shelves that house them, wishing to be the owner of this one, examining that one.
Mrs. Brown has become a character of the past but Mater is drawn to handbags and to the promise of new beginnings that empty vessels convey.


julochka said...

wonderful ode to the promise of the handbag...maybe i'll go shopping! ;-)

Pappy said...

My mother who is eighty eight had major surgery two years ago. While in recovery at the hospital she was heavily sedated. She told me one morning that all the little foreign nurses (she claimed they were from the "Islands" because they all wore the same type of clothing) were using her bathroom for a communal bath house. She said she was shocked to find them naked and sitting around her bathtub bathing each other during the night. I assumed she was confused by the floral scrubs some of the nurses wore. A goodly number were from the Phillipines. I told her I had not noticed, but that I would be more vigilant in the future. Pappy :)

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Julie, you should go shopping ;) I never say that but if I've inspired you, then it's good!

Texican, my goodness. That's... unusual. I suppose if you hallucinate it's no good anyone telling you it wasn't real- it feels like it was, and it impacts just the same as real life. I'm sure your mother was unsettled by that so you probably gave the right response!
How strange.

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