No Rain

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
I never win anything

Submitted: May 29, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 29, 2012



Why don’t I Win Anything?


When a Starbucks Latte is Much More Than a Starbucks Latte


No Rain

Why don’t I win anything? At first when I asked this, I was talking about something big, really big, like the lottery or a vacation home in Madrid or a new car – like all those lucky contestants on The Price is Right. Come on down, indeed! Those prizes would be something to win!

But then I started to really think about it – about all the contests and all the sweepstakes at work and at church and such – all those raffles and all those ticket stubs that say I need not be present to win. All those tidbits of hope that have ended up as paper scraps scribbled with unrecognizable emails or phone numbers clinging to life in my recycle bin, stuck hopelessly to the bin with some magical combination of Diet Coke and dryer lint and hair brush hair and garbage water. But it really is something more than that I have not won, and believe me, I’ve tried.

Sometimes I buy scratch-off lottery tickets. You know, those fun ones that you rub with a coin. It’s like unwrapping a Christmas present with every scratch. A dollar here or there is returned tenfold sometimes! Knowing that my coin won’t unmask the big winner, I view them as nothing more than an amusing voluntary tax. Besides that, they are messy. I stopped buying them because the lady behind the counter looked like she was getting annoyed with me claiming fifteen $1 prizes – one every few minutes for an hour or so. It really was a lot of work for a buck, and I can totally understand why she was getting upset with me.

I think that I’m a somewhat simple person that enjoys simple pleasures. I’m sort of a “nothing guy.” I don’t have anything to sell, I’m not promoting anything that will change the world, and really not in to making a splash. I’m not overbearing, I don’t drink, or smoke, or do any other really harmful things to myself that would upset the gods.

People win every day on television. I watched intently as Regis asked if this A, B, C, or D was the contestant’s “final answer,” screaming at the set because I knew they were right or wrong, waiting intensely as we went to that agonizing commercial break for the challenger’s thrill of victory or agony of defeat. Then I would feverishly – almost maniacally redial that 800 number enough to blister my fingers from the heat of the phone only to be mocked by that pulsating busy signal… Defeated, I end the futility knowing I will never be asked that fateful question. But that’s all right, I tell myself. The world of TV game shows isn’t really my thing. Howie and The Ladies will have to lovingly persecute some other person while I watch from afar completing the online entry form knowing I’m really not going to be the lucky at home winner. If I were to spin the Wheel of Fortune, I’d most likely only land on Bankrupt. And that’s OK with me because I know it really isn’t for me. I would rather win something else, I tell myself. But deep down in side I know that’s not going to happen.

So what gives? I really haven’t done anything horrible. I don’t think I’ve done anything that would tip my Karmic scale so out of whack that no matter what I do on the earth I am doomed to never win the big jackpot. Sure there are some skeletons in my closet that have harmed others or made for some short-term suffering, but I’m pretty certain that there isn’t something so heinous for which good deeds can’t make amends. Is there? Can I ever be truly certain? Have I done enough good? I’m sure that I have on some scale more than made up for these wrongs. But I’ll really never know. If only there was some sort of Karmic scoreboard in my house. Do they sell such things at Target? If not, where can I find one? I really need to know my score.

I’m a good person. At least I think so. I’m not overly religious, but I think I’m spiritual, and I practice a faith. I know it’s not perfect, but that’s why it’s called practice. And I give to the church, but not ‘till it hurts. Do I need to? Is that the answer? Can my pittance of wealth make any difference to something so large as The Church? Probably not, and I don’t want to run my family in to the poor house trying to be a good patron of The Church. So is there something else? I give to the Salvation Army, and I support our troops though I don’t support the wars (whatever that means). I know that their distant sounds of war allow my voice of freedom to ring loud and clear, and I love and respect them for that. There must be something else, but what?

I help other people. I try to let people in front of me in traffic, and I don’t mind parking far away from the store entrance, knowing that someone with more physical ailments could use a good parking spot. Besides, most days it’s sunny, and I really can use the exercise. I try not to complain when asked to do stuff around the house. Really I do. I’m pretty easy going, and it’s sort of fun for me to do chores sometimes. Most days, I make sure that my elderly neighbor’s paper is at his door. He’s not very mobile anymore, so I help out where I can. I even run errands for him. I’ll go to the pharmacy for his medication, take his trash to the curb, cut his lawn, and get essentials for him at the grocery store – which reminds me – Most times I take the milk that’s just about to expire rather than dig my way to the fresh stuff in the back that will last for two weeks. Really, I do.

So I ponder a little more. What else could it be? I haven’t really committed too many bad acts, I try to be good and do good things, I recycle, and I try to help others in need however I can, wherever I am, however I can, but I just can’t figure out why Ed McMahon never knocked on my door. I’m sure if he did, he would have only said I owe him ten million dollars and his henchmen would have tried to shake it out of me. At least I’d get to meet Ed.

Is it maybe I have won and I couldn’t collect? That could be, but probably not. I once won a prize by being the correct caller (I try to call when I can – but never using my cell phone while in traffic. That would be bad, and the consequences could be horrible) to a Milwaukee radio station. I tell you, I felt great about that! I diligently followed the instructions to claim my prize and drove to the station to collect my winnings – a bag of potato chips and a CD – The Best of the (morning show’s disc jockeys rantings and ravings), I think. And I felt like a kid in a candy store. When I got there, they told me they were out of CDs and the chips were being used for an office party. They told me to come back another time. So I left knowing others were enjoying the chips, and that made me smile until I got back to my car and there was a parking ticket under my windshield wiper. Oh well. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. But I didn’t mind. I figured it was the price I paid for believing I had actually won something.

Maybe it’s genetic. I’m Irish, come from a long line of Irish, and we Irish can be pretty unlucky sometimes, so maybe that’s it. It must be in my blood. I mean I have some pretty interesting genetic predispositions with which I’m trying to make peace. And my father (god rest his soul) had some bad streaks. Lung cancer was his unlucky undoing. In turn that made my mother unlucky by proxy because she was robbed of 20 some years of married life – the golden years. She also had some unlucky times. But somehow she’s managed. Hell, she even smiles about them now. In fact, when I read this to her, she got a chuckle out of this part. The smile might have a unique wryness to it, but it’s a smile nonetheless. I have an uncle that’s an extremely successful attorney, and my sisters are all very accomplished in their respective careers. So that can’t be it. Sure we’ve all stepped in (some undesirable piles) too. But doesn’t that happen to everyone? I think that’s just life. Isn’t it? We take it with a smile.

My grandmother – god rest her soul – just passed away. At the end of all things, she wanted nothing more that a Starbucks hazelnut latte. With luck, we found a Starbucks relatively close to the hospice care. Also with luck, she was able to enjoy it in her final moments. She smiled as she struggled to sip it on that final afternoon, her body too weak to vocalize the enjoyment of the moment. Her eyes were bright as ever and we all smiled along with her through our tears knowing a beautiful lady was about to begin the greatest journey imaginable.

Then something sort of hit me. It’s started off slow but rapidly grew to an intense sense of understanding. See, life really isn’t about winning at all. It never was. It’s about moments that make fantastic memories. It’s about sharing, caring, and loving. It’s about living as deep as possible and feeling the beauty that surrounds us all. Thing is, stupid little me was too busy wallowing in my melancholy to notice the beautiful world in which I live.

You see, my grandmother was rather unlucky in a lot of ways, but that really didn’t stop her or slow her down. In fact, it made her stronger, more resilient even. It would fill her little heart up with so much love that she needed to share it with those she loved lest it burst (which it did once, but that’s another story for another day). When the next misfortune happened to come along, she would smile and laugh her way through. She could because there was always someone with whom she could lovingly commiserate and smile - and share a hazelnut latte. Bad ideas, bad decisions, and bad timing make for wonderful stories later in life.

Maybe I’ve been looking at the picture from the wrong side of the wall all these years because I have been lucky. Really lucky. I have a wonderful wife, wonderful children, and a wonderfully strong, loving, compassionate, and caring family that misses me when I’m off on one of my many adventures dawdling over the simple things in life or flying off on some strange tangent that makes no sense to anyone but me (OOH! Sparkly things!!!!). This is the lesson my grandmother unknowingly shared with me that day at the end of all things. She was a woman that enjoyed the simplest of things in life: good coffee, good bread, a good fire, and good company. But mostly, she taught me theses things, the prizes in life if you will, are nothing unless you can share them with those you love.

So it really isn’t about winning anything. It never has been. I just never knew that. Like sculpture, it’s not what is removed, but rather what remains that makes Michelangelo and Bernini masterpieces. What remained with GrandMarie is a family that lived and loved and laughed and cried with great joy, and nothing was more important to this woman who shared so much with so many than seeing a loved one’s face light up around her – for whatever reason.

And this is a lesson we all need – that the littlest of things in life can be a lot greater than the sum of their components when we let go a little, give a little, smile a lot, and enjoy one another.

With love and all my best.

About the author: Bill is a stay-at-home dad that likes to write some things. Between diaper changing and feeding and parenting, there is naptime, and that’s the best time of all. He is currently working on becoming a B-list celebrity and living high on life.

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