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Friday’s mail contained a familiar looking envelope.  The big orange danger sticker was a dead giveaway.

It was my mother’s old friend, Publishers Clearing House.  Mom and Publishers had enjoyed a fruitful relationship for years.  They mailed.  Mom faithfully responded.  And then she waited; Mom waited with hope that something big would happen.  Meanwhile, Publishers picked up the fruit.

Mom always insisted on subscribing to at least one magazine because she was sure the odds of winning were better for paying customers.  And who knows but that maybe she was right.  Mom’s thinking was that someone had to win the prize — it might as well be her.  Then there was this — if she didn’t enter, she couldn’t win.

I wish my parent’s lives had been easier.  Money was always tight growing up.  They learned to do without.  Well, except for a few necessities like Mom’s Harlequin Romances which she faithfully read for years.  My mother taught me that when you don’t have money, and you can’t earn it the good old-fashioned way through hard work, you dream big and hopefully one day, your gamble will pay off.

My parents were never secretive about their finances.  So I know they didn’t live paycheck to paycheck .  Rather, the truth was their money would run out before the next paycheck came.  They met ends with a little sewing income Mom made on the side.  Or sometimes Papa would fill in a little here and there.  Later, it was money from my sister’s store.

There was always some place for the money to go, so none ever got put back for a rainy day.  Maybe the car would break down.  Or the central heat would go on the blink.  And then there was my brother’s drug habit and all the tidying up over that expensive business.  The escape offered by Harlequin Romance was a bargain compare to my brother’s cocaine habit.

The amazing thing about all of this is that if my parents were to ‘do it all over’ again, their decisions would have remained the same.  In spite of all their talk about money shortages, my parents always shared what they had and sometimes would borrow in order to lend to someone in greater need than they.  Who does that?… I mean really:  Who does this?

I guess it’s the same kind of person who has eternal hope that “The Prize Patrol” will actually one day show up at her door.