Unsubscribe Me

By: Cheryl Maguire

My mom deemed the Internet useless back in the early 2000s when it became mainstream. Like other new technology, she resisted it. I knew she would love a digital camera, but she refused to buy one, insisting her camera worked fine. Since she wouldn’t buy a camera, I gave her one as a gift, and as predicted, she was snapping pictures of everything.

An Internet connection was not as simple as purchasing a camera. There is a monthly fee, and it requires a computer connection. She lived most of her life without the Internet, so she thought it was unnecessary. By the time 95% of the population was surfing the net, she finally caved.

Once she learned how to use emails, she sent me a minimum of ten per day, and I deleted about nine of those without reading. I informed her of this fact. I even typed “unsubscribe” in response to one of her emails, yet she continued to either forward or send.

Most of the emails she sent were forwards of articles for a town she didn’t even live in anymore. One email subject said, “FW: NEWS UPDATE: Miley Cyrus Spotted Food Shopping” As you can imagine, I didn’t read it.

She also sent elaborate recipes even though I don’t cook or bake. When I see the subject line with a recipe title, I hover the mouse over the trash bucket icon and then press delete.

A lot of the emails were things you would say in passing conversation or looking for suggestions, like this one:

Subject: Laptop

Email Message:

This laptop is a lost cause–I bought it last August and it has gotten worse and worse–it takes FOREVER to do anything–if you see any good deals, please let me know…. before this dies completely…

I rolled my eyes after I read it, thinking “she waited FOREVER to get an Internet connection and now it’s not quick enough for her??”

I wouldn’t want to leave out the fact she likes sending weather-related emails.

Subject: Snow

Email message:

For those of you who are news free–they are predicting 6 inches to a possible blizzard (foot or more) of snow this weekend–starting Friday night here…

She knows I don’t like to watch the news, but unlike her, I do have other ways of gathering weather information like checking the weather app on my phone.

Some emails I had to open, like when I read this subject line:

Subject: GRRRRRRROSS!!!!!!!!

Email Message:

A live mouse caught in the trap under the sink — moved the trap to the back under the pipes and trying to go down the hole where pipes come in.– but the trap won’t go down with him….. and Dad can’t get him out!!!!!

You get the idea. I’m either deleted or rolled my eyes when I receive an email from her. The emails started coming in around 8 a.m. and then were sporadically sent throughout the day, until one day when I didn’t get any.

My mom had an accident and shattered her shoulder. She needed a total shoulder replacement surgery. At first, I didn’t notice the lack of emails, since I was visiting her in the hospital and concerned about whether she would be okay. Before her surgery, I was really worried.

The surgery ended up being successful, but she was unable to type for months, which meant she was unable to send emails. Instead of being happy about the lack of something I thought was annoying, I felt a strange sense of loss.

I went into my email trash bucket and recovered all of her deleted emails, creating a saved folder for the messages. As I read them again, I found myself smiling with a new perspective, noticing the nuances of the messages for the first time.

I went back to the FWD about Miley Cyrus, and this time I read it. I thought about how she still read the local news from the town she used to live in because she probably misses it. When I saw how she wrote FOREVER in all caps in the email about the laptop, I envisioned her feeling frustrated but able to laugh about it. In the weather email, I chuckled as I thought about how she was poking fun at me for not watching the news. And reading the mouse email, I wondered what happened to the poor mouse trying to escape. Did it make it?

These emails have her personality all over them, and I’m grateful to receive them. As I continued to read the emails, I thought about how this was her way of keeping in touch with me. I then typed the following email:

Subject: Subscribe

Email Message:

I would like to please re-subscribe to your email list. I really miss it.


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