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Tuesday, March 29

addicted to hope

Mom is in the hospital again. This time it was almost the end. And she did it to herself because she is an addict.

Don't picture an 88 year old woman sucking on a crack pipe. No, for that we could have found an intervention. Mom is addicted to her mail. She doesn't get a whole lot of "real" mail. A few bills, her bank statement, sales fliers. Those are not her drug of choice. The monkey on her back is sweepstakes. The promise of a check with her name on it.

We started to become aware of this when she would force upon us bags of cheap goods. Pot scrubbers, key chains with lights on them, a talking calculator. Turns out she was ordering them from Publishers Clearing House which, of course, says no purchase necessary, but why would they sell stuff to entrants if it didn't matter? Well, Mom analyzed her odds and decided it was worth 20 bucks in Taiwanese junk craft to up her odds of having the van pull up to her house with that big check and a dozen roses. After perusing her checkbook and finding almost weekly checks written to "PCH", I contacted them and threatened them with a lawsuit if they didn't stop preying on my Mother. Their mailings stopped, but they apparently sold her info to every bottom-feeding profiteer out there because she started becoming a "finalist" in dozens of contests. Daily. All she had to do was send 5/6/20 bucks to "reserve" her finalist spot. She sent them cash because she knew we monitored her checking account.

Mom lives on $1000 a month. Period. And there are low life con artists out there, looking to snag a piece of that. Daily.

Oh, we tried to reason with her, but a creeping case of dementia makes it harder and harder for her to exercise any judgment. Why would they send these to her if it was a lie? These are big companies! No. Mom, these are small cellar dwelling companies with a mailing list of the most vulnerable and gullible and desperate amongst us. Add to them the plethora of "address label" charities that send her the little 5 cents strips with her name and a bunch of tulips on them and ask her for a donation to cover the cost and support the children/the sick/the mission/the American Indians/veterans. She must have thousands of return address labels.

She is also a prime target for Social Security warnings (send us 60 bucks to help us fight for your benefits) and various and sundry other political causes (Obama is stealing your health care and wants to kill you)

My brother, bless him, lives near Mom and goes there every day to check on her and bring in the mail that he patiently goes over with her, piece by piece. She has been known to slip out a particularly glossy and promising "You may be a winner!!!!" envelope and hide it until he leaves, but he's on to her.

Mom's mailbox is at the curb, surrounded by a mound of snow. She has to navigate 4 steep steps and a slippery walk to get there. She promised to never attempt it alone and my brother promised to always make sure her mail was brought in. A few times she called him and said not to bother coming, that she had her mail and he would explode. And make her promise again.

But the idea of being able to gather up the 20 + promises of a grand life that crowd her mailbox daily and go through them alone, without the voice of reason, without the dashing of hope, is too much for an addict to ignore. When Bob called to tell her he was delayed a half hour but would be there soon to get the mail, she saw her chance. She put on her boots and her warm coat, grabbed her cane, and made her way to the curb. She got there, but the snow behind the box stymied her. She put one shaky foot on the mound of snow and reached for the little pull down door and lost her balance, landing hard on the sidewalk and breaking her hip.

Mom has a serious heart condition which makes surgery extremely risky but without it, she would spend her remaining days bedridden and so, as a family, we had decisions to make.

Listen up, you pathetic leeches. You who prey mostly on the elderly. You who reach into their pockets and snag pathetic offerings to your promises of riches. You who then turn around and sell their info to other leeches so that the mailboxes spill over with ever increasing visions of security and well-being that many seniors can only dream of in this life. Listen up.

We had to sit with cardiologists and internists and orthopedic surgeons to decide how to help this suddenly frail woman. We had to decide whether to put our Mother's life on the line. We had to sit with her all day and sleep by her hospital bed during the night when the hallucinations made it impossible for the staff to control her without tying her down. We had to watch them wheel her up to the OR, knowing that might be the last time we would see her. Then there was the 4 hour wait for the surgeon to tell us how it went. And now the 48 hour wait to see if she can maintain the toughness that got her through surgery.

And all because she went to get her mail. Because she wasn't able to wait a half hour. Because an addict waits for the pusher, becoming more anxious every hour. You lured her out there. To get her 5 bucks added to the sad little pile of other contributions you bleed from the poor, the desperate, the innocent.

The surgeon says Mom is tough. So am I. There has to be a way to put you creeps put of business and if I have to take you on one by one, I swear I am going to try. Enough of your teeny print disclaimers that nobody over 65 can read.

One. by. one.

But first, I have a Mom in ICU to tend to. There is only one promise of hope that matters now. The hope that she will survive this and maybe walk again. No fine print.

She may be a winner.

1 comment:

Jolene said...

You make me laugh..and cry..then help my find my balls. I love you Miss Patricia!