I won the lottery. The 200-million-dollar lottery, to be exact. After the inevitable taxes, the gifts to friends, and trusts established for family, there was still an obscene amount of money left. Too much for my husband and me to spend in our lifetime. So, I purchased thousands of acres of property and established an animal sanctuary.
There were dozens of barns and quarters for everyone from retired racehorses and rescued cows to elderly dogs and feral cats. Pigs had their own yard fenced off from their neighboring goats and sheep, complete with troughs and mud pits in which to luxuriate on sweltering summer days. An alpaca might stroll past chicken coups while peacocks kept dozens of watchful eyes on the operation. A venture of this magnitude required a sizeable staff, including three veterinarians, groundskeepers, a business manager, and multiple caretakers to feed, groom, and oversee the comfort of the residents. High school and college students could earn credit by mucking stables and snuggling lambs.
This lifelong dream of mine was exactly that…a dream. In 1986, the dream was so vivid that, upon waking, I could recall minute details and conjure up sensory cues as specific as the annoyance of the buzzing flies and the pervasive aroma of manure. I could see the rolling pastures with happily grazing animals who would peacefully live out their lives under my indulgent care.
The following morning, I strutted right into my boss’s office at the newspaper where I worked. “I won’t be in tomorrow,” I informed him. “Why not?” he asked. “Because I’m winning the 200-million-dollar lottery and starting an animal sanctuary.” With that, we shared uproarious laughter. It wasn’t only because of the confidence in my assertion. It was because, in 1986, lottery jackpots topped out somewhere around the 10-million-dollar range. The very thought of a 200-million-dollar prize was unimaginable.
Through the decades, as the lotteries grew, I never forgot about that dream. I began scouting properties that could accommodate the number of animals I intended to rescue. I convinced my niece that, once up and operational, I wanted her to manage the overall business. Now, every time the Mega Millions or Powerball creeps toward that 200-million mark, my husband, or son, or daughter, calls to remind me to buy tickets. I firmly believe that, since it was my vision, it has to be my purchase.
A pipedream, you say? Superstition? I don’t think so. I was raised to believe in the supernatural – unexplained events and a connection to the otherworldly. How many times have I started humming a song that suddenly popped into my head, just to immediately find it blaring from the radio? Countless. I’ve often been viewed as a good luck charm at casinos as my intuition during Blackjack is unparalleled. I’ve bought dinners – paid for vacations – because my gut has told me when to double down and when to stand. Or, what about when a long-lost friend calls me for the first time in ages to find my lack of surprise disconcerting? After all, I’d had a “hunch” I’d be hearing from her.
I know, I know. You want to call these “coincidences.” Occasional nudges from the universe that aren’t much more than a fluke. I beg to differ. My mother was always surrounded by tarot card readers, astrologists, and mystics so, growing up, I took for granted her psychic abilities. I never thought to question her when she adamantly professed that spirits of her loved ones had visited her through her life. I grew up assuming that everybody believed in ghosts. Imagine my dismay the first time a classmate said, “There’s no such thing as ghosts.” Had Mom lied? Couldn’t be! Obviously, my peers were simply uninformed. I saw firsthand when Mom and her sister received profound answers to the questions they asked of the Ouija board. Even after my mother died, her ability to communicate across the life/death threshold continued when she contacted my aunt. Imagine my aunt’s shock when she was playing Farmville on her computer and an instant message from Mom’s account popped up declaring, “I’m flying through the stars!”
I’d like to think I’ve inherited intuitive sensitivities. I’m in awe of those who have mastered this skill. I’ve dropped a hefty amount of money visiting professional mediums, from locals to the esteemed John Edward. While I’ve never received a personal message, I’ve watched in amazement as those around me dissolved into tears at a meaningful word from a loved one. After my beloved dog Clifford died, my depression drove me to reach out to Sonya Fitzpatrick, the famed pet psychic from Animal Planet. I was a tad skeptical that my dog would be able to speak with a person. By phone, Sonya described details of my house that would have been difficult to guess. A room with a wooden floor and rug covering part of it made Clifford nervous; he was afraid he would slip and hurt his painful leg. She said Clifford had appreciated when, near the end, I would lie on the ground with him and give him pieces of ice. I was confused, though, when she went into great detail about the blue blanket that I always covered him with at night. His blanket was a multi-colored quilt. When my daughter came home from school and I mentioned this inaccuracy, she went to the blanket and turned it over. The back was solid blue. My skepticism vanished.
So, scoff all you want as I eagerly check to see which lottery is close to the 200 million mark. If you want to get in on the action, though, you’ll need to let me buy the tickets. Since it was my dream, I have to be the one who actually makes the purchase. Then, join me on my animal sanctuary where all residents live comfortably and peacefully. Where rescued horses and lambs and calves and rams and puppies and piglets play from dawn to dusk. Where bluebirds sing joyfully as they drape me in the pink gown that they helped create with the household mice. Where unicorns frolic in vast meadows under a hundred perfect rainbows. Fantasy, you say? I call it a prophecy.