by Grace Gannon
Wanda McFee, a
59-year-old social worker, loved her small cozy
apartment and her job at the Golden Ladder
Nursing Home, but looked forward to retirement.
She had raised her son Charles on her own. A
delight from the moment he was lifted into her
arms after an easy labor, Charles was her comfort
after her husband ran off two years later with
So the gray
morning Wanda found out Charles had fallen into a
financial pit so deep there was no crawling out
she was bereft; convinced he would spend the rest
of his life living in a paper bag on the side of
On her way to
work she stopped at the Pump n Save gas
station. While waiting for the tank to fill she
noticed a sign: Megabucks Tickets Sold Here. She
bought her first ever ticket and said a prayer
When she got
to work that morning she was told Maddy Clarke,
an 87-year-old with a heart of stone and a tongue
that cut out roommates hearts, was dying.
Her son wont get here till later this
afternoon, Rene the charge nurse said.
sit with her until he arrives, Wanda said.
Ive got a ton of paperwork I can do
at her bedside.
mouth was slack, pulled down in one corner. Her
respirations were shallow, her limbs mottled, her
fingertips blue. The room was quiet except for
Maddys bedside clock as it ticked away the
final minutes of her life.
put her paperwork aside. She glanced around the
room; no one. She tilted back her chair and
glanced out at the hallway; empty. Hello?
she said softly; no communication between
Maddys room and the nurses station.
Wanda pulled her chair closer to the bed and
whispered in the dying womans ear,
Maddy, today when you see God tell him
Wanda McFee needs to win Megabucks. She
patted Maddys icy hand, whispered
Thank you, and went back to her
The drizzle of
rain in the morning became a torrential downpour
in the afternoon and by the time Wanda left for
the day lightning and thunder erupted from the
sky with a ferocity that shook the earth. Maddy,
her lips purple and cracked lingered, waiting for
her sons arrival. Probably wants to
give im hell for not coming sooner,
morning was sunny; washed clean by the previous
day. Wanda stopped to buy a sympathy card on her
way to the Golden Ladder. She took Maddys
chart from the rack and Rene said, Where
are you going with that?
going to write the final discharge note and send
a sympathy card to Maddys son.
Rene held out
her arms for the chart. She rallied,
she said. Good as new. Alert and oriented
times three. Shes as clear as a bell.
to the doorway of Maddys room. Maddy turned
her head on her pillow and said, God said