She has spent a lifetime scratching tickets to find the matching cherries, the letters saying 'winner! winner!', the 777 - right in a row. She used to watch game shows - Press Your Luck, Card Sharks, Password... - and dreamed of being a contestant.
Great Grandma Lee would care for me, her great grandson, every afternoon after a rambunctious day at Ponderosa Elementary in Post Falls, Idaho. I would come running, abandoning post-school kissing tag, and make it to her doorstep, panting and panting, just so I would make it in time for the game shows. While watching, I would jump up and down, up and down, yelling "No Whammies, No Whammies" and she would just laugh and laugh in her reclining puffy chair. And I would laugh right alongside her, especially when an animated Whammy would come and pour a ton of feathers all over a contestant lady with red hair, making her lose her prize money.
My mom, Wendy, had to work long hours at the bank and was gracious for having such a loving grandmother to help watch her son. Everyone loved Lee, from the boy bagging her groceries to the Swanson man who would deliver her food. The secret was her ability to be sweet, literally. Great Grandma Lee would always carry fudge in her pocket. If offered, I'd always pick off the nuts on top; "I love you" she would say as she handed over the fudge, alongside a peck of a kiss, and a wink of the eye.
"Great Grandma Lee has won the lottery!" I imagined my grandma saying when she told me the disheartening news that my ninety-five year old great grandmother, Leona Griffith, had passed away over the weekend. But I am happy to say that I think she has won the ultimate prize - peaceful rest. She's in her big puffy chair, laughing at the contestant lady with tons of feathers, and giving out her fudge as she makes her way to the pearly gate. With joy and tears in her eyes, she reconnects with loved ones saying, "I told you not to say goodbye - say 'Auf Wiedershehen' (German for 'until we meet again') - and look! Here I am". As her great grandson, I find myself as the biggest winner - having those treasured moments with my great grandma, with uneaten nuts in my pocket and No Whammies.