I recently visited my mother in her assisted living facility, and she was sitting in her wheelchair looking at a copy of ESPN Magazine.
“Studying for the Super Bowl?” I asked.
“No,” she responded. “I don’t like sports.”
I noticed the stack of magazines on her table. FORBES. MENS HEALTH. EBONY. JET. YOGA TODAY. ELLE.
“Have you been taking your medications, Mom?” I asked, wondering about her sudden interest in all things young and masculine.
“I don’t like those magazines,” she answered. “I’m waiting for my prize.”
She wheeled over to her dresser and pulled out a large envelope stuffed with “official” letters and postcards from the Office of the Sr. Vice President of PUBLISHERS CLEARING HOUSE announcing that she was in the Winners Circle! Yes, she only had a limited time to return the card with the Official Authorization Code to be eligible to collect her millions in prizes! But, the time-sensitive message was urgent! “The next step is up to you!” screamed the bold text highlighted in bright yellow. “You could be just days away from winning! Respond today!!!!!” And, of course, it wouldn’t hurt to subscribe to some of these magazines….
My mother had dutifully written notes on each and every letter: day received, amount of check enclosed, day check mailed. She already had subscribed to most of the women’s magazines, including Cooking (she doesn’t have a kitchen), and Oprah (empowerment has never been part of her lifestyle). I tallied up the orders, and she had paid for 32 magazine subscriptions, some of them until 2016. And, there was no Prize Patrol pounding on her door.
My mother is not stupid, just frail. She’s a Depression-era woman who knows the value of a penny, and thirty years ago she helped my father manage several large businesses. In her defense, I know that she grew up in a time when women took oaths to “obey,” and they believed every official-looking document they received. The evil hucksters at PCS know how to manipulate these innocent people, but the fraud they are committing against the elderly should be labeled a criminal offense.
I’m trying to get the subscriptions cancelled, but that’s almost as difficult as winning anything. I’m thinking about staging an event to have some people show up at her door with balloons and a big (worthless) check. I really want her to get a prize.
I took home some of the magazines (along with her checkbook) and opened a bottle of 2008 Catena Malbec. I found this spicy, full-bodied wine for only $22 at Seasons Wine Bar in Eagle. It pairs nicely with a copy of Fortune Magazine…..