A blistery winter storm threatened to coat the outdoors in sleek, dark ice that night. Sleet pelted the windows. The rhythmic sound was broken only by the familiar hum of the TV. And then the phone. Ring!
"Hello?" I asked, picking up the receiver.
"Hello. Is this the home of John Schmackton?" an unfamiliar voice questioned.
"It is. May I ask who's calling?"
"Is he of legal age?" the voice hedged.
I paused before responding. "Legal for what?"
"Well, legal. Over the age of 18?" He seemed anxious. Quick to get on with the conversation.
Was this a prank call? Was this one of my husband's employees, calling in sick for the following day due to weather ... already?
"Who is this?" I insisted.
"My name is Dave Crafton. I'm calling on behalf of the St. Louis Auto Association. Is John home?"
I took the telephone downstairs to the home office and handed it to John. As I passed over the phone, I informed John who was on the other end. I climbed back up the stairs to my position in front of the Fisher Price barn alongside my two year-old twins. And then my imagination started to run wild.
The night before, John had taken the kids to the Auto Show. Did he leave something there? His wallet? The stroller? How would they have known to call him over a stroller? Had he won a car? That's the only thing I knew they gave away at the Auto Show. A vehicle. I listened from my post at the top of the stairs, but no clues wafted up. Until ...
He had won a Dodge Durango. From the St. Louis Auto Show.
Five months pregnant with our third child, we'd begun looking at options for our family's robin's egg blue Dodge Grand Caravan. New tires were necessary. Bucket seats would be optimal for managing three small kids in and out of car seats. But as a single-income family by choice, we also chose to manage our finances. Out of necessity. And tires and bucket seats were not on the grocery list.
Then, suddenly, I was driving around town in a new Dodge Grand Caravan. Brand new tires. Bucket seats. Heated leather seats. Moon roof. Automatic doors and lift gate. The. lap. of. minivan luxury.
John had taken the Dodge Durango prize and traded in for a decked out minivan for his pregnant wife. I happily drove that van for six years. It was the nicest vehicle I'd ever owned. And we'd won it. At the 2004 St. Louis Auto Show. The Auto Show that John had left with two year-old twins in tow before realizing he'd meant to register for the Durango they were giving away. And he returned. From the exit gate at the outskirts of the building to the 50 yard-line in the center of the Edward Jones Dome. To fill out one slip. With his name, address, phone number. Slipped into a giant metal drum. To be chosen. Out of thousands of entries. On a stormy winter night. The winner. Of a brand new Dodge.
It had been the answer to prayer.
To be continued...