Lark Ascending: Politics, families and other mysteries
Since September when my mother passed away, I have had her mail forwarded to me. Her last bills, documents for taxes and correspondence from a few acquaintances have all landed in my mailbox.
In addition, there has been a mountain of political solicitations.
As far as politics went in my family, I have been the lone Democrat in a herd of Republicans. Mindful of our differences after the 2016 election, we’ve generally avoided discussing politics with each other.
And while my mother might have occasionally mentioned what a good job she thought Donald Trump was doing, mostly we didn’t get into it. She had a pretty good idea of where I stood, and I had a pretty good idea of where she stood.
Or so I thought, until I started receiving all of her mail.
Initially, a few pieces of correspondence from places like the Heritage Foundation were forwarded on. The mail came labeled with a yellow forwarding sticker on it, covering her original Florida address. As the weeks went by, more mail from more conservative groups began to appear in our mailbox and now there was no yellow sticker. The senders had permanently placed my mother at my Breckenridge address and added this information to their mailing lists.
This information, it appears, was shared with dozens and dozens of other like-minded organizations.
Yesterday I went through the pile that has accumulated in the last month. This included appeals for money from five congressional candidates from five different states (none of which are the state my mother actually lived in), a Navy Seal, a previous host of Fox News, former senators and sundry politicians, the Ambassador to the UN, a “conservative alternative to the AARP” (did the AARP need a conservative alternative?), Mike Pence and of course the big cheese himself: Donald Trump.
Suggested donations ranged from $35 to $1,000, and most of the mail included surveys such as: “National survey of 1 million U.S. voters on ‘Spygate’” and “Team Obama’s use of the FBI, CIA and NSA to defeat the Republican nominee for president and then topple America’s duly elected president!” Surveys presented such open-ended questions as: “How frightening is it to you that we nearly lost our constitutional republic forever to this scheme hatched by Obama and his radical left cohorts?” The choices were frightening, very frightening, etc.
Some of this mail was suspiciously misleading, including an envelope marked “2020 healthcare registration card enclosed” which was not from a healthcare group but from the National Center for Public Policy Research. “I am sending you the enclosed Medicare Registration asking you to decide … If you want Obamacare’s cuts to critical Medicare programs for seniors to continue.” Or inflammatory, such as a letter from the Black American Political Action Committee, stating “There’s nothing Democrats fear more than outspoken Black conservatives exposing their Liberal LIES!”
As this pile expands daily and exponentially, I can’t help asking: Mom! — really?
And I am left to wonder: how is it that all manner of conservative individuals and groups (35 and still counting) felt my 80-year-old mother who gave $20 to the Heritage Foundation was a worthy target? Were they just picking on an old lady (which is tempting to believe when seniors are warned to fear the AARP)? Or, is it instead a case of discovering — as some children do upon the death of a parent — that one’s parent had a life and opinions that we as children knew little or nothing about?
Some people discover they were adopted, others find out that their parent had had an affair. My discovery? Maybe Mom (in addition to surprising us with her practicality and planning in the face of impending death) was also a radical right-winger.
If so, she is now having her say. My mother and I share the same name: Christina Holbrook. So all of the mail that once went to my Mom, Christina Holbrook, is now directed to me, Christina Holbrook. And I’ve got to look through it all. I can’t cancel my mom’s mail without canceling all of my own.
So I am left with the task of contacting each of these organizations to ask them to please take “Christina Holbrook” off their list. And I wonder, as the exhortations from the political right keep rolling in, if our mailman on Gold Hill is ever curious to know how it could be that the person receiving an “Urgent appeal — do not abandon President Trump!” is the same person receiving Yoga Journal, The New Yorker and World of Birds Magazine.
Christina Holbrook’s column “Lark Ascending” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Holbrook writes about life in the mountains, from the beauty of the natural surroundings to the quirkiness of friends and neighbors to what makes a good life. She moved to Breckenridge in 2014 and is the author of “Winelands of Colorado.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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