The Big Win

Grandpa’s funeral occurred not even two weeks ago. Mom recently lost her job. And my parents forced Grandma to move out of her home, and in with us, because they didn’t think she could take care of herself without Grandpa. The atmosphere in the Tucker household was solemn at best.

That made it all the more surprising when dad came home from work looking ecstatic, calling for a family meeting.

Mom, Dad, Grandma, my brothers Frank and Bill, and I gathered in the living room for the big news.

“We won!” shouted Dad. “We friggin’ won!” He bounced around like an excited school boy.

“We won what?” asked Mom.

“The lottery! We won the lottery. With all the crap this family has been through, we finally caught a break. We won the damn lottery! Three million dollars!”

Dad’s frozen grin stared back at us as we all sat in stunned silence.

“No way,” said Frank. “You read the numbers wrong.”

“Yeah,” said Bill. “Let us see the ticket.”

Dad ran into the kitchen.

“Where is it?” he yelled from the other room. “Susan, where did you put the ticket?”

“I didn’t put it anywhere,” said Mom. “I read you the numbers when you called this morning, but I didn’t move it.”

Dad stormed back into the living room.

“Alice, Mom, boys.” He paused, looking each of us in the eye, one by one. “Where is the lottery ticket I stuck on the fridge?”

My brothers and I shrugged, and grandma flipped the television on, bored with her son’s tantrum. That’s when we saw the six o’clock news.

“A local church received a surprising gift today,” said the anchor. “An anonymous donor left a winning lottery ticket for the preacher — a ticket worth three million dollars. The church plans to use the money for much-needed repairs and outreach programs for the poor.”

My dad’s eyes looked like they might pop out of his head. I thought he might faint. His eyes darted around the room, wondering who robbed him of his big win.

I didn’t. My mom wouldn’t without consulting my dad first. And while my brothers always looked guilty of something, I doubted it was either of them. No, only one person could have donated the lottery ticket.

Grandma grinned, fixated on the local preacher gushing thanks on TV. She showed dad that day. Grandma was perfectly capable of taking care of herself, and still able to teach her son an occasional lesson.