I've won the lottery all-life long.
I hit it when I was born. My parents were seasoned, for they'd already raised three other children. My mom said she was thankful for me, a healthy breach baby of barely six pounds. Because of my size and near jaundice condition, I remained in the hospital for four days while Mom got to go home.
When I turned six, Mom threw me a party with a few of my cousins, church kids, and some school friends. After games and food, we went outside. When Dad wheeled a brand new bike around the corner, I thought I'd hit the lottery. I had no idea I was getting it. I'm not sure where they'd kept it hidden. Maybe at my brother's? Church friend Jimmy Joe Weems said, "That's nothing," when he saw the bike. He hopped on it to show how he could drive it without training wheels. He ran into the gas pumps.
In fourth grade, we were assigned to draw something representing our birthday month. I did as Mom suggested and drew a flag for July. Mrs. Schneider picked my picture as the winner. I don't remember any prize for it except her saying it, but I felt like I'd won the lottery. It was nice to be praised. I've kept that flag all these years.
In high school when I earned the honor of representing my school at Girls' State in the summer of 1983, I was shocked. I was not the smartest in my class, nor the second smartest, or the third. But politics fascinated me, even back then—and not just in election years. My essay caught the eyes of the judges, and I got to go.
I bawled when Mom drove me there, for I was so scared. I'd never gone to an event with all strangers and stay over night for four days. A girl from my church, Heather Mendel, was attending, but we'd be in separate groups. I knew our paths would never cross. In addition, the NBA finals were on TV that week. I didn't want to miss them. This was the year Dr. J earned his ring, and I heard about it on the radio that night. I think I cried myself to sleep because basketball was such an important part of my life back then.
|Me: in back, 2nd from left. My roommate, Heidi Shanard: front row, green skirt.|
I did enjoy the week though and reported back to the American Legion. I remember them saying, "We've never heard anyone enjoying this quite like you did, Melodie." Their response made me happy. Seems we'd both hit the lottery.
When I landed the job at Cheney, I felt God's favor again. How many first year teachers are lucky enough to live near a big city but enjoy the safety of small town life? Years later, Superintendent Don Wells told me I'd yelled into the phone with excitement when he made the offer. I was pretty excited, for I'd been driving all over the state for interviews. But when I drove to the top of the highest point in Sedgwick County and saw the little town in the valley, I thought this place might be the one. And it turns out, it was. I got to teach English. To kids. It was work, but it didn't seem like work once I got the hang of it. And I was an assistant girls' basketball coach, part of a winning program that went to state six years straight. I'd hit the lottery.
And now decades later, with my match.com husband and a little grand baby in our world, I feel once again that I've won the lottery. Dad is 91 and healthy. Our dogs, my favorite companions, are always nearby. Family seems nearby too thanks to FaceTime. Boredom and loneliness don't visit me much anymore. And I've got this writing gig going—this place to share my thoughts. Life seems good.
I call these blessings. Some would say, the favor of God. Others would say just luck. But tonight, hours away from the Powerball announcement, I'll call it winning the lottery because when my $2 ticket doesn't win tonight, I'll still be rich with these blessings, these memories, these relationships.
Money can't buy that.
What memories, honors, or events are priceless in your life? Ever bought a lottery ticket and fantasized what you'd do with the winnings?