Well, setting aside for a moment the idea that it wouldn’t bother me one little bit to find out I was the “Owen Sound area” person who won a $60 million-dollar lottery jackpot, I’d say Joan Patterson sounds like a good winner. And I have absolutely no ulterior motives for saying that.
Not that I’m a bad loser; you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket. But who knew the lottery-winning vibes were in the local stars, or winds, or the ground underfoot.
It is fun, though, to see somebody local win; all the more reason to play with various “what if it had been me?” scenarios.
I bet I’m not the only one who’s struck by how much Joan Patterson’s down-to-earth and down-home plans are very similar indeed to what we might do in her place. In my case, that’s right down to re-fencing the barnyard and the front field, where the plants in my large vegetable garden would have to learn to share with a couple of horses, maybe more.
Have I ever mentioned I love horses? It goes back to when I was a boy living on Rolling Acres Ranch. I expect there are still a few people around in the Durham area who know what I’m talking about. I love horses enough that I wouldn’t take on the responsibility of owning them without sufficient income to look after them properly.
And then there’s the barn itself, that still more-or- less solid, 125-year-old, hewn-timber structure I’d like to fix up so it will stand another 100 years. That means some foundation repairs, and a powder-beetle treatment before those little critters do any more damage. (Ah, the things that keep me awake at night.)
That’s not to say those things I’ve already mentioned wouldn’t come ahead of my rather large extended family of children, grandchildren, and one great granddaughter. Speaking of Jorden, that little girl has already got amazing spelling and writing skills. I see a great novelist in the making. My elderly mother who lives in an Owen Sound retirement home wants more than anything to know everyone in her family is as happy and well as they can possibly be. She also deserves all the happiness money can buy.
That’s quite a lot so far. Not to worry, $60 million is a nice little chunk of change, and would spread around very nicely, thank you, with a lot left over to help some local people I know in need, and other worthy causes.
Now as far as the “sporty car” is concerned, and the brand-new Corvette Joan Patterson mentioned, she’ll likely buy, I’d be more inclined to keep the Montana in top shape and on the road as long as possible. And then of course, there’s my famous, Model-22 Massey-Harris tractor; I would take him down the road to “The Shop” at Brent’s for a complete restoration job. I’ve promised him – Mr. Massey, I mean – to my oldest grandson, Daniel and it would be great to hand him over all shiny-red and purring like a kitten. Besides, Mr. Massey has it coming. I owe him that long-awaited, full restoration, especially after leaving him out in the cold and snow through yet another winter.
Some travel would be in order too. I have a brother in England I found and made contact with a few years ago, and we’ve yet to see each other. I also have a sister and brother-in-law, nieces and nephew in Florida I don’t see often enough; and another brother in the Chicago area. I think we should all get together, pack up a few things, jump in the Montana van, and visit a certain sacred piece of ground near San Diego.
Oh, my goodness, there’s all kinds of good and worthy things a person could do with that kind of money, while staying down-to-earth and content with who you area.
I mean, getting back to Joan Patterson, anybody who goes to the Ontario Lottery office to collect her multi-million-dollar winnings in blue jeans and a western-style, pearl-button shirt, is going to do just fine.
On the other hand though, some people should never win the lottery jackpot, or otherwise get multi-rich.
I’ll put myself way out on a limb here and suggest Elvis Presley, for example, would have been better off without his fame and fortune. He might still be alive today, contentedly retired after driving a truck for a living, and still strumming his guitar and singing his down-to-earth songs for family and friends, as always. Occasionally he might speak of regretting a little that he never quite made “the big time.” But the man who would have been “King” always ends up by saying, “That’s just as well, though. I’ve had a good life, I’ve got a great family, and I’ve done right.
“I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” he’d say, looking around the room with a tear in his eye at the many people he loves, and love him right back; and then a special look for that special someone he might never have met if he’d taken the leap and his life had taken another turn.
That’s not the first time I’ve had that thought, that what-if about Elvis Presley, of all things, for some reason.
Who knows eh? Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how our fates are pre-determined, that no matter how hard we try there’s not much we can do to change that. Surely that’s absurd. Accidents happen, don’t they?
Still, millions of people in the world believe in pre-destination; it’s deeply imbedded in many ancient cultures. Years ago, when I worked in a big auto-parts warehouse, I knew a high-caste young man from India who had come to Canada to get some work experience in the West before going back home to help run and expand the family business. He said he knew the fate that awaited him. He had talked to a wise man, a seer, in India who had told him. He suggested I should try doing something similar if there were such people in Canada. Or maybe I should visit India. I never have.
I know some people who had remarkable experiences when they were young, a glimpse of the future, an actual, visual premonition of it. And then one day many years later, there they were. I leave those doors open. I don’t discount them.
I feel something like that here, in Hope Ness, at the end of Cathedral Drive, with the “No Exit” sign down by the old Hope Ness one-room school and community centre. It’s been a long road, with one thing, and many, leading it here. Change just one thing, and everything changes.
I know I’ve been lucky, to have made it this far, to have reached this place, and the Hope it offers. It is a beginning, not an end. I hope you are, or soon could be, so lucky. I wish you were here, in fact. Don’t worry there are good things happening in the world, despite . . . well, despite.
The best is yet to be, and it is now. And it has nothing to do with winning the lottery.