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The end of a $587.5 million dream

December 2, 2012
Messenger News

The magic of the Powerball millions lasted just a bit longer for me than for most people who don't live in Missouri or Arizona where the two winning tickets were sold.

I knew my sister was in Missouri on Wednesday, I know she always plays Powerball, and I usually get an email when she has safely driven back home to Albia in southern Iowa.

I didn't get an email Wednesday night, and a small part of my brain toyed with the idea that she was so busy contacting her attorney and financial adviser that she just didn't have time to shoot me a note about the good news of her newfound fortune. Or, maybe she was going to surprise me and drive up to tell me in person.

However, I didn't see her on my doorstep Thursday morning, and as soon as I learned the ticket was sold in the Kansas City area, I knew she was just too tired to type Wednesday.

Sure, it would have been her money and not mine. But, hey, she's my only sibling. She would have felt compelled to throw at least a few hundred thousand my way. After all, I bought her some really nice birthday presents in September, and with more money in my bank account, I'm sure my Christmas shopping for her would have exceeded previous expectations.

I know I won't win the Powerball because I don't play. On the other hand, I don't lose the Powerball because I don't play. I'm not a gambler - and I'm at least $2 ahead of millions of people who bought losing tickets.

Maybe because of all the hoopla around the ginormous jackpot, I started really thinking about what I would do with an unfathomable amount of money. Or, at least I tried.

The truth is, I can't imagine what I'd do. I always get a kick out of people who say, "I'd pay some bills." Some bills? You could pay off all your bills and the bills of everyone you're related to and/or ever met. You could pay off the debt of family members who haven't even been born yet. You could toss hundred dollar bills at strangers for a week.

With that kind of money, you need to have imagination. You need to be able to think of exotic locales and extreme luxuries.

The fact of the matter is ... I can't.

Once I renovated an aging farmhouse, restored its barn, improved the outbuildings, added a few more animals and planted dozens - no, make that hundreds - of trees, I would pretty well be out of things I'd want for myself. Of course, I would take care of that darling sister and my dad, and a few other family members and really, really good friends (You know who you are and who you aren't). And, I'd certainly want to set up a charitable foundation so I could make obscenely hefty contributions to the charities I already support, as well as a few new ones.

But, after that, I'm stumped.

I grew up in a household where I learned the value of a dollar, the need to take care of whatever you had and the wisdom to know that wants and needs are completely different in nearly all cases.

For many years, I have kept an Oprah Winfrey quote on my refrigerator door. It reads "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."

Maybe the real winners will dream bigger dreams than I. But I don't know that I would want to trade places with them.

Barbara Wallace Hughes is managing editor of The Messenger.



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