The “Winning” Lottery Ticket
For the first time in my life, I got caught up in the recent lottery fever. Hearing about the Mega Millions drawing on TV, I was lured to my local Turkey Hill Market to buy a ticket. No, make that five, one dollar tickets. I let the computer randomly pick my numbers and I proudly put the receipt on the refrigerator next to one of our summer vacation pictures.
That night as I cleaned up the kitchen, I thought about what I would do with my winnings. Beginner’s luck would surely lead me to some prize I optimistically assumed, so I needed to have a plan. I really didn’t need any new “stuff”. Eight years ago I packed up twenty-one years of living and moved from the home where our children grew up to a house where I would start the next chapter of my life. Going from room to room and closet to closet I realized that I had accumulated a lot of “stuff”. You know, the kid’s old toys, outdated curtains, cabinets full of mismatched Tupperware, and silly small kitchen appliances bought on a whim and only used once. In the process of purging, I became very selective about what I kept. What did I really need? What was truly important? This cathartic exercise was actually quite liberating. Why did I have three sets of full-sized sheet when I was only moving a queen-sized bed? Would I really use four beige bathmats and a broken croquet set?
I held a garage sale to sell some of my treasures and contacted the Boy’s Club and Salvation Army to stop over for a massive give-away for the leftovers. My rules for retention were simple. Anything I kept was going to be either used in my new home with my new husband (who already had some “stuff” of his own) or had to be tied to a memory that I wanted to preserve.
“My memories are inside me-they’re not things or a place-I can take them anywhere.” (Olivia Newton-John)
Memories. These are the mental bridges that allow us to tip toe back into our past. They evaporate the bygone years and remind us of how quickly life passes. Their energy affects our spirit and enables us to appreciate our subconscious mental activity. The mind is always working; painting colorful pictures on the canvases in its corners, carefully typing the dialogue, and precisely recording the smells and sounds of the moment for future recollections.
“There is nothing like an odor to stir memories.” (William McFee)
So of course I packed up my numerous framed photos and thick albums that documented my life’s fun. I had a large wooden trunk for each of my children’s memorabilia. Tiny clay handprints, faded hand-made Mother’s Day cards, and primary school poems scribbled on wide-lined paper were as valuable as gold nuggets to me. My grandmother’s hand-stitched patch work quilt crafted from the leftover scraps of dresses that she had sewn for me was carefully packed away next to the tacky T-shirt announcing “Super Dad” that my daughter’s father wore when we first brought her home. What good memories!
“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.” (Bob Dylan)
Glancing at the lottery stub as I put away the last pan, I finally decided how I would spend my Mega-Millions. I would invest in more memories. I would take all of my loved ones on wonderful trips and laugh and have fun. I would take lots of pictures and do things that I have never done before like zip-lining and swimming with the dolphins. I would not be conservative in my choices. I would not hold back and wait for later. I did that before, and there wasn’t a later.
Well, the next evening the drawing came and went and I did not win any money. I checked my numbers three times just to make sure, but there was no match, not even close. But in the end, I did come out ahead because I was reminded of the power of my memories. In the past these warm recollections helped me to heal when my heart was chilled by my grief. They temporarily carried me away to a wonderful chapter in my life that I was lucky to have lived.
Now I realized that it was up to me to keep building the memories for my children and our grandchildren. I vowed that I was going to focus on creating more life experiences. Simple, special moments can sometimes give us the biggest payback. I wanted to make sure that in their time of need that my family could feel better by starting the conversation with, “I remember when…”
“A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood.” (CharlotteDavis Kasl)
As far as I am concerned, I won the lottery that day and I will keep that slip of paper on the refrigerator to remind me of how lucky I really am. And now, I will get busy making more happy memories. There is no time to waste for this winner!