We won the lottery!

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The unexpected news was delivered just a little after the noontime hour. The Wife was so excited when she called that she could hardly catch her breath. When she finally did, six little words were spoken that were to change our lives, and the lives of our loved ones around us, forever, “Honey, we just won the lottery!” I was so excited I’d almost dropped my phone.

The Wife kept talking but, if I’m being honest, about what I haven’t a clue. My attention quickly faded from the conversation at hand as I thought back on my history with scratch-off tickets and choosing numbers. Yours Truly’s ineptness in picking the right combination of numbers to win the big prize has left a large pile of crumpled tickets in many a trashcan.

Now I’ll admit to playing the lottery a few times over the years and up to this point considered a scratch-off ticket revealing a $5, $10, $20, or $50 a big windfall. I’d quickly spend the winnings on lunch or dinner with The Wife, but that’s nothing compared to winning the entire lottery. Unfortunately, being a big lottery winner presents us with big problems.

On the other end of the phone, The Wife continued to speak, but I could barely hear her voice. Thoughts of just how we would spend all of that money blocked out all other sensory input.

Over the years I’ve heard of big lottery winners and how the massive amount of money ruins their lives. Determined not to become one of them, I reached into the night table drawer and retrieved our lottery wish book. Over the years filling the pages with items to buy had been a fun way to fantasize about things we could never possibly afford. Not any more! Our fantasies have now become reality.

On the first page of our lottery book, we had carefully written detailed instructions of what to do if we ever won. We did this believing calmer minds would think clearer than excited ones. And we were right because right now I’m about as excited as I’ve ever been, and I ain’t thinking clearly at all.

Guess The Wife picked up on that fact when she asked, “Are you still listening? Did you hear what I just said?” I assured her that I was and I had, but really I wasn’t and didn’t. I was still reading the list of “must do’s” on the first page of our lottery book.

The first thing we’d agreed on was staying anonymous. Guess that one’s gonna be hard to accomplish now. Next is hiring an honest estate attorney and money manager. They will tell us what we can and can’t buy. Don’t want to end up years from now on a television special about lottery winners who blew through all of their money and are now hopelessly in debt. Nope, such a thing will not happen to us.

After our legal team is in place we’ll give a quarter to the church. They have the outreach to help folks we don’t even know. Churches never have enough money to do the good work that they do. Then we’ll pay off all of our debt: house, cars, credit cards, everything will finally be paid in full.

And a quarter of all the money we will just give away. Yes, The Wife and I are going to start our own charity and disperse the monies ourselves. Why not? When you win as much money as we just did, you can’t possibly spend it all, so why not give some of it away?

Our great giveaway will be in a contest format and anyone can apply to be a participant. Three criteria will guide the monthly winning selections: first, the creativity of your idea. Second, humanitarian aspect – how many people are going to be helped? And finally, the most important part is… . Well, to be honest, we haven’t gotten that far. Don’t send us your applications quite yet. First we have to pick up our giant lottery check and hire our legal team.

The thought focused my attention back to the conversation on the phone. I asked The Wife where and when we were going to get our check. That’s when she asked again, “Haven’t you been listening? We just won the preschool lottery. Little One will be going to preschool five days a week this fall.”

“Oh,” I replied somewhat dejected, “That lottery.” Thoughts of a windfall of money and all we would do suddenly were pushed out of my mind.

Replacing the void was the question of how I was going to transport three children to three different schools across two different counties all at the same time. Not to mention picking up said children in the afternoon, at three different times, with two being transported to sports events.

The Wife picked up on my silence, asked what was wrong, so I explained the dilemma of what winning the preschool lottery meant to me this fall. I would be on the road for hours each school day.

She said, “Just think of it this way. You traded in driving your fire truck for driving a school bus. Instead of getting paid money you get paid in hugs and kisses.”

Driving Big Papa’s school bus — that makes me the richest and happiest lottery winner ever.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]