The number 13 has been among my list of the luckiest numbers. Both my husband, Kip, and I were born on the 13th day of the month, although he entered the world on a Friday, a fact which honestly leads him to feel all the more lucky.
Some may disagree. Paraskevidekatriaphobia is indeed the fear of Friday the 13th.
There are other numbers of which I am particularly fond.
3 It’s holy.
7 The number of heartbeats that birthed their rhythm next to my own.
8 All about perspective….I see to infinity and beyond!
66 A high school football jersey number that was retired much too soon.
Then there are the numbers that remind me of special people and some that bring back memories of roads long traveled. Funny how just numbers that pop up as today’s temperature or even the battery life on my phone can make me smile. It doesn’t take much.
I especially like to recall my favorite digits when I play the lottery. It’s a rare occasion that I spend a few dollars on the longshot of winning a gazillion, but my lucky numbers always make my heart beat a little faster as I dream about what I would do with all of my winnings.
When Kip and I bought a few tickets for the Mega Millions Drawing some months ago, I had all of my imaginary winnings given away in 10 minutes flat.
I’d start with our church, because well, isn’t that where it all starts?
Our local outreach ministry would be next on my list. The thought of people being hungry, cold, or homeless breaks me.
I’d max out the kids’ college funds, so that they could focus more on succeeding in college and less on paying for it.
I would give a big check to our local schools. They deserve it.
And while I’m at it, I’d pay for every field trip, yearbook, and outstanding lunch balance for every kid in the county. There would be new playground equipment and new classroom technology. It would soon be known as “The Year of No School Fundraisers.” I think it would be well-received.
I’d open a pay-as-you-can restaurant in my hometown, modeled after the beloved F.A.R.M. Café in Boone, NC, which serves, hands-down, the best food I’ve ever eaten. Herbivores, carnivores, and their gluten-free cousins would agree. If you peek in at each day’s lunch hour, you’d see white-collar, blue-collar, and those who have never been able to afford a collar, sharing tables. Goodness, I could cry just thinking about it.
And then there are those dreaded, ugly diseases that have robbed many I have loved of a long life….cancer, heart disease, diabetes, meningitis, and alcoholism. A philanthropic gift could quite possibly prevent heartbreak around the world.
After my 10-minute deluge of giving all of my gazillion dollars away, Kip asked if I would have any left over?
Well, maybe a little.
I’ve always wanted to hammock in Key West and make a return trip to Yellowstone.
And I’m still dreaming of those front pew seats at the Ryman, especially on a night that Sturgill Simpson is playing.
I guess I have reached a point in my life where I just don’t want big and grande. I don’t need shiny or expensive or exotic. I am quite content with my small, mountainous plot in this world and surrounding myself with that which is simple, and kind, and good.
I’ve well learned how to grow things and how to give things away.
When my dad died a little over three years ago, Merritt Malloy’s poem, Epitaph, found its way into my hands.
I needed her words. Just seeing a marked-down sticker on a dented can of crushed tomatoes at the grocery store would render a flow of tears right there on Aisle 4, as it was a reminder of Daddy’s daily trips to the store to buy food just to give it all away.
The grocery store grief was especially hard when I had kids in tow.
Mom, are you crying?
No, Sweetie. Just feeling like I am about to sneeze.
When truth be told, I was readying myself for the downpour.
It’s still hard to pass on a red-stickered box of Lucky Charms cereal for the little ones, and now not so little ones, because my daddy never did.
Merritt Malloy gave me words that my dad would have so easily said himself.
I have had her words posted where my eyes could read them every day since my dad’s passing. And I’ve learned to give him away every chance I get.
Though they never met my dad, the people of Burgaw, NC saw him at work repairing their flooded homes and community church last summer. Hungry school children see him when they open their backpacks of food each weekend. A couple of weekends ago some disabled, elderly and economically-challenged homeowners saw him clean out cabinets, wash walls, and deliver beds and bedding so that young children no longer have to sleep on bare floors.
His grandchildren see him best with every pause of mine to play or read or wipe away tears rooted in bad dreams. He’s in every I love you.
Recently I’ve given him away to friends who are feeling the pain and grief that only comes after the passing of a parent. Daddy is in every phone call, text message, and card sent. He is in each meal prepared and at every visit to sit in silence. He is in every single prayer.
I sent a copy of Malloy’s poem to two long-loved friends who were each grieving: one the passing of her mother, and the other, the death of his dad. Having experienced shades of this kind of grief before, each awoke last week to a morning without either of their parents to console them. Words just cannot fill a void that deep, but they sure can help in the healing.
Love doesn’t die, people do. So, when all that’s left of me is love, give me away.
My friends will find paths to give away the love of those who have loved them best. I’m quite certain of it.
And when a morning comes when my own children awake without me, they will surely know that love doesn’t die with me either. One day they will learn to give me away too.
For now I think that I’ll head down the road to pick up a few lotto numbers.
I’m feeling particularly lucky.