Polly and I always started our visits off over a glass of diet coke and scratch off lotto tickets. This was the closest I got to recreating her days of poker playing and whiskey shots. Although she did request on a few occasions for me to sneak her in a small bottle of Jack. Her Dr. didn’t seem to oppose the idea if in moderation.
Lotto scratch off tickets were not the norm for Polly, she was a poker gal, but loved the excitement of having a chance to win big. It was always a great kick start to funny conversations. Where we would go, what we would buy, nutty things we might do with our winnings, typical day dreaming. One day we won $50 bucks! As you can see from my photo, I was a bit overly excited. And yes, she is sticking her tongue out. That was Polly’s signature “I’m excited pose”. All she wanted was indigo blue pants from Sears. Odd request, but God bless her commitment to Sears (Polly obsession with Sears is an entirely different story). We continued our visit and I left an hour later pondering if indigo blue pants from Sears was a thing and how the hell I was going to get them.
The following day I received 3 phone calls and 1 very agitated voicemail from an attending nurse at Polly’s facility. “Mr. Butler, can you please call the nurses station or come to the facility when you get a chance. Polly believes she won $100,000 on a lottery ticket, that YOU gave her, and is demanding for you to come help her move. She did not win anything and is very confused. She is arguing with the staff as she believes we are trying to steal her money. Please contact me asap”. My heart sank. I knew without further details exactly what happened. I accidently left behind another lotto ticket that looked like a crossword puzzle. She loved newspaper crossword puzzles, so I assumed this would be a hit. Unfortunately, she didn’t understand the rules. She saw 16 complete words and bypassed the step where you must scratch off 14 hidden letters to validate the words to win. In her mind, she had won BIG and was moving on up in the world.
I made it to Polly around 3pm, she was nestled up in her bed, eating pudding with one hand and had her lotto ticket death gripped in the other. Have you ever watched YouTube videos where people give “fake” winning scratch of tickets to their family? They’re assholes, and that’s exactly how I felt. It took a few minutes to unravel the confusion and break the news that she didn’t win the jackpot. Her response was unforgettable. “Ehh, probably for the best, I never was too fond of the rich people I knew. Anyhow, I got you to come back and see me twice in one week, so that’s a win. Also, I changed my mind, I don’t want indigo blue pants, I would prefer a indigo blue tank top with flowers”.
Polly taught me how to accept life’s disappointments. For her, she lost a $100k but was still getting a pretty new outfit from Sears - Life was good!