We started off quite similar — Dominique and I comparing grandmothers. Chubby and welcoming. Sure. Always cooking. Yes. A picture of Jesus hanging in the bedroom. Of course. Chinchillas in the basement? What? This is where we began to differ.
She always had a line on something, my Grandma Elsie. Some may have called it a scheme, but I think it was more of a dream. She loved the idea of winning. Whether it was with the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes, or the swamp land in Florida, the coupon on the back of the toasted marshmallow’s package, or raising Chinchillas in the basement. Even in her final letter to her children and grandchildren, she apologized for not making the big score that she so wanted to give them.
She was wrong. Not for trying, no. I think it was fun for her, so why not. But I’m not sure she saw the value in what she gave to us daily. This is how we won. With an aproned hug. A lick of the spoon in the batter. Lemonade on the stickiest of summer days. A Lazy Susan filled with candy. A door never locked. A heart always open.
We won with every visit. We never took naps, but instead ate our lunch in front of the tv watching Days of Our Lives. We played cards and dice – games in which she beat us desperately, but it was the time spent together that felt like winning. Most of her sentences began with “Don’t tell grandpa…” — secrets that felt like wrapped and bowed presents.
She was the last person I remember picking me up, when I was too old and too heavy, my legs dangled in the air. This is the lottery that I win every day.
The games we play may be different now. Trying to win “likes” and “followers.” And I am just as guilty as the next person, thinking, “If I only had this…” But in the quiet moments of the morning. With only the sound of my fingers typing the memory, I feel my heart fill, my legs dangle, and I know, all sweepstakes have been won.