View from the hill

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN PAUL PENNER
About a month ago, I gathered a large pile of mail from our mailbox. Two letters were addressed to someone else.


On the outside of one envelope, it read, “You could be owed $1 million on Thursday, August 23, 2001.”


On the other letter, the promoter asked the addressee to renew a subscription to Guideposts, an inspirational magazine. Inside the Guideposts letter was a request to renew gift subscriptions for four other individuals, including myself and my siblings.


There was one small problem with these letters. They were undeliverable to the addressee: my mother, who is no longer capable of receiving mail from the U.S. Postal Service. She died five years ago this month.


Shortly after Mother’s death, as the duly appointed executor of her estate, I informed all relevant persons, businesses and institutions of her death. It would seem that such a notice would be taken seriously. But not by the people who run Guideposts and Publisher’s Clearinghouse.


On some days, Mom gets more junk mail than I do, and I’m still alive and kicking-at least I think I am.


I have tried various methods to get these people to understand that Mom no longer resides at any earthly address. I have made phone calls. I have sent the letters back with the words “deceased” written on them.


I even sent back the solicitation letters and checked the “No, do not renew my subscription.” I included the date of death and a written request to stop sending mail in her name.


I have also let the junk mail accumulate for a couple of weeks before tossing it into File 13.


I wonder if these promoters have found a new way to do business with dearly departed subscribers? Imagine the impact it would have on the caretakers and residents of the afterlife, in that glorious place some call heaven.


I think not.


How could there be paradise with junk mail littering the streets of gold? When would they find time to enjoy heaven if they had to go on work detail to clean up the mess? Then the afterlife would be more like…life on earth or that other, unmentionable, place.


What if Mother won the jackpot? Would the Publisher’s Clearinghouse people honor their commitment to pay her the money?


Imagine the announcement on national television: “Ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s winner in the Publisher’s Clearinghouse million dollar sweepstakes is…. Oh my…. This is a first! It’s the late Helen Penner! Attempting to accept the cash prize on her behalf is her son, who is still alive.”


Yeah, right. Dream on.


The people who are sending this junk mail must be thinking, “If we keep sending this to the kids, they will think their mother is dishonored if they do not renew the gift subscriptions.”


Like picking cherries off the tree- taking our money, that is.


Well, this is one sweet cherry tree that has turned sour. The fruit stand is closed. I have chosen to honor my parents in other ways.


I believe there is irony in this situation. I can imagine, while engaging in a round of heavenly laughter, Mother decided to get back at me for all the ornery pranks I used to do as a kid-and a computer glitch in the mailing list did the rest. The good Lord knows I nearly wore her down as she tried to keep me out of trouble.


Maybe this is God’s way of showing me the futility of going against the grain while enjoying a bit of prophetic humor on the side. If the Publisher’s Clearinghouse and Guideposts think she is still alive, who am I to say that she is not?


Mother is alive and well, but not at this earthly address-and her current Landlord uses other means to communicate with the people who live elsewhere.


In any case, when my time on earth is up, I intend to have a little visit with Mother. She will have some explaining to do about the junk mail that collected in my mailbox after she made her last move.


And then we’ll all have a good laugh about it.

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