#8 Winning Big

Mary couldn’t believe her eyes. The numbers matched – all of them. And the special number in red – it matched too! A few hours later, it was confirmed. The lady from the lottery commission had accepted the ticket, done the paperwork, and scheduled the press conference. Tomorrow, Mary would go from a broke single mom to a multi-millionaire. After taxes, she would receive $4 million dollars (or so) a year for the next 25 years. Visions of what she could buy danced around her head.

But first, she had to tell Jamie. He was young, and probably wouldn’t understand all the commotion over the next few days as news came out. Mary had braced herself for the media and her family, but Jamie wouldn’t stand a chance if she couldn’t talk to him about it today.

“Honey, Mommy’s got something to tell you”, she began.

“ooo-k”, he replied as he set aside the toy truck.

“Mommy played a game last week, and she won some money in it”. As she spoke, she hoped he wouldn’t remember the previous times she’d played the same game with different results.

“Why?”, he said.

Jamie was firmly in the ‘why’ stage of his development. Like most children he longed to draw out conversations with “whys” until the adult, her most of the time, couldn’t take it any more. When they’d get frustrated and leave, he’d laugh. It was a game, but she couldn’t play just now – she had to tell him the news.

“We can’t start with this Jamie”, she said firmly, “this is serious – you know what it means when Mommy says ‘serious'”. He did indeed know what it meant – it was a word reserved for when he got in trouble. He paused for a moment and Mary felt that she might have a chance at having the conversation.

“Why?”, he said with a grin. She decided to just go with it.

“Because Mommy needs you to understand what’s going to happen now”, she started.

“Why?”, another impish grin.

“Because this is big news honey”, she said.

“Why?”, a small chuckle.

“You’ll want to hear this Jamie”, she said with a bit of exasperation, “do you understand?”

“Why?”, he replied. She couldn’t take it – this was too big to play games over.

“Because this is going to change your life, my life, and the life of a lot of people we know”

All he said in reply was exactly what she expected “Why?”. But for some reason, the question hit her.

Why would her life have to change? Why would her son’s have to change? Tomorrow the press conference was supposed to be her victory day, the day to show the world that she could become something out of nothing – that she was in some way better now. But all she was going to be was richer. And that worried her.

She’d recently watched a show about lottery winners losing everything, and as she looked into the eyes of her son, Jamie, she made a decision to call the financial planner at her bank. The lady promised to help Mary set everything up for the long term, keeping her and Jamie with enough money to live comfortably, splurge occasionally, and never have to work again. Mary could raise her son, travel to see her family, and own her own home. It was all falling into place.

Winning the lottery was supposed to change her life into one of dramatics, but why should it? If freedom was what she sought, shouldn’t that include freedom from pressure to spend? After all, the wisdom of Jamie was evident over a number of conversations she’d have with friends over the next few days.

“You should buy a new car!”
“You should buy a boat!”
“You should buy your entire family something nice!”
“You should buy a new house!”



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