The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 42

Upon receiving her lump sum, Mom donated ten thousand dollars to the church. It was her sole decision—not even Dad knew about it. That donation caught Father Paul by surprise, not only because of the large amount, but also because it came to him in cash. He hesitated in accepting it. In a small town like ours, where everybody knew everybody else’s business, it was more than clear to everyone that our household didn’t have that kind of money floating around.

She insisted that he accept the money, and finally persuaded him. She didn’t tell him where the funds came from, and thankfully, he didn’t ask, either. Her only request was that he keep it strictly between the two of them.

Keeping secrets from her family was not only out of character for Mom, but also something she made us promise we would never do. It made her a hypocrite. And she was well aware of that. Her heart hurt. However, there was no way she could confess her ten-thousand-dollar donation when she, herself, made us promise not to do anything outrageous or out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, she believed the church and Father Paul saved her emotionally, and she wanted to return the kindness. She knew the church suffered from an eternal deficit, and she wanted to help. She was confident that her secret was safe with Father Paul. It was different with him. It wasn’t like he would cruise around town and spread the rumor of her donation.

She felt great that she could give something so generous to someone who she felt truly deserved it.

Her mind was peaceful for a time, but that only lasted until the day when she first suspected there might have been an intruder in our house.

“My kids think I’m losing it,” she told Father Paul.

“What about your husband? Does he agree with them?”

Mom quietly nodded. “He doesn’t believe me, either.” Her eyes shifted downward, “Maybe the kids are right. Maybe I am hallucinating. I thought I was getting better, but… Perhaps I do need to see a doctor.”

Father Paul looked at her firmly. “Don’t do that to yourself. You know you didn’t create the story. You remember exactly how those photos were displayed. I believe every word you’re saying.” He seemed to know her very well and cared about her state of mind.

Mom looked up at him, appreciating his understanding and sympathy. She knew she wasn’t hallucinating about anything. “Father. I appreciate you not asking me why I’ve been so fearful.”

His sincere eyes looked straight at her. “You don’t need to tell me anything you don’t want to.”

Mom’s eyes gazed straight at him. “I know my secrets are safe with you.”

“Yes. They certainly are.”

Mom took a deep breath. “Father, I won the lottery. I’m the winner that everyone’s talking about.”

He nodded gently. “I had a hunch.”

“I suppose,” Mom nodded back. “Anyone would have wondered how I had any money to donate to the church. I knew you’d guess that much. But again, I appreciate you not asking me about it.”

She looked up at him and met his truthful eyes.

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