100. Mr. Lucky’s Magic Dust

100. Mr. Lucky’s Magic Dust

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters


Mr. Lucky’s Magic Dust

Always look on the bright side of life.

~Monty Python

My father-in-law, Don, aka Mr. Lucky, was thankful for the simple things in life. His wife of fifty-plus years, Flora, allowed him to purchase one scratch-off ticket per week. Somehow, that ticket always ended up being the winning one.

“Send some of that magic dust our way, Lucky,” his coworkers teased as they carried off fistfuls of worthless tickets.

“We’re all lucky to be living in America,” he’d reply.

As Mr. Lucky grew older, he developed two strikes against him.

Dad suffered from hearing loss and macular degeneration. Such a combination would have been devastating handicaps to a lesser man. Not Mr. Lucky, however.

He was seated in the break room one afternoon opening a sack lunch when a weather announcement came over the intercom.

“A tornado alert has been issued for the entire viewing area. Please be aware of these conditions!”

Dad looked up from his ham and cheese sandwich.

“A tomato alert! What’s wrong with the tomatoes?” he shouted in alarm.

His coworkers simply shook their heads. “You really need to see about some hearing aids, Lucky! Take those tomatoes of yours and get yourself to a doctor!”

That afternoon as Dad drove home through the storm, he found it impossible to see. A mile up the road, he crashed into the back of a physician’s Mercedes.

With his license revoked, there was no alternative but to move our parents to Virginia where we could chauffeur them around town.

The folks thrived in their cozy apartment. I found Dad a part-time job at a mall within walking distance. Before the mall opened each day, Dad would head for Dillard’s department store. There, he’d vacuum the floors and empty all the trash cans.

“I’m the luckiest man on the face of the Earth,” he’d comment on the rainy or cold days I’d drive him to work. “I have a wonderful wife, two terrific sons and their families, a job that I love, and a little spare change in my pocket. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

I often wondered why the management at Dillard’s continued to keep Dad on. His eyesight had gotten so bad that he couldn’t possibly see well enough to vacuum properly. I was sure half the trash receptacles remained untouched as well.

One morning, I browsed the perfume counter waiting for Dad to get off work. I could hear him singing in the distance as he worked. Suddenly, one of the sales clerks chuckled.

“Come on, Mr. Lucky, tell me another joke to brighten my morning.” As Dad happily obliged, I spotted the manager of the store quietly chuckling nearby.

Suddenly, the reason Dad still had a job became as clear as the sparkling perfume bottles in front of me. Mr. Lucky spread magic dust all over Dillard’s department store.

The day finally arrived when Dad could no longer see well enough to perform his duties. My husband and I made a pact to take the folks out to lunch a couple times a week.

“I’m the luckiest man on the face of the Earth,” Dad commented each time we’d meet.

One sunny afternoon, we arrived a little early. Mom joined us in the car while we waited for Dad to lock up the apartment.

Time passed. Still no sign of Dad.

“Where could he be?” Mom asked anxiously. “I spotted him coming out the door several minutes ago. Then we got to talking about where we’d like to eat today, and I lost track of him!”

That’s when I happened to glance at the car parked next to us. An Indian couple wearing astonished expressions stared into their dashboard mirror. There in the back seat sat Dad, happily chattering like a magpie completely unaware of his blunder.

I hurried over to explain while Dad sheepishly climbed into the back seat of our car.

“I had no idea there were so many cars the same color as yours!” he chuckled. “Those were two of the most surprised people I’ve ever met in my life!”

Somehow, we managed to make it safely to the restaurant.

“Order me a margarita, will you? I’m going to the restroom.” Before anyone could offer to accompany him, Dad was off and running, his cane swinging in the air.

We all ordered our beverages, glancing every once in a while in the direction Dad had taken. The waiter came and went several times.

Suddenly, we heard a familiar voice across the restaurant. There sat Dad with a family of strangers.

“That was a good one! But you can’t leave until you tell us the punch line to that last joke,” the man seated at the head of the table exclaimed.

“I guess we’re going to be here a while,” Mom sighed, reaching for another piece of bread from the basket.

We were sure Mr. Lucky’s fortune had finally run out the sad day he was diagnosed with lung cancer and leukemia.

“I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do for you, Don… I’m sorry,” the doctor quietly murmured, placing a hand on Dad’s thin shoulder. We gathered around his bed, silently asking God to send us the right words to comfort the dying man.

The clock ticked loudly on the wall.

Suddenly, Dad smacked his hand against his leg. “Well, listen now. It’s not such bad news! I’ve had a great life! In fact, I’ve been the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. God blessed me with a wonderful wife of fifty-plus years and two terrific sons and their families. I’ve always had just enough change in my pocket. You can’t beat that!”

“Time to take your blood pressure, Mr. Lucky,” a smiling nurse exclaimed.

“Hey, Lana, here’s a knock-knock joke for you… Aardvark.”

“Aardvark who?”

“Aardvark a million miles for one of your smiles!”

The nurse chuckled gleefully.

Something floating in the air across the room caught my eye. I squinted, attempting to make it out as it danced in the sunlight before heading out the door.

There was only one thing it could be… Just as it had filled our hearts, Mr. Lucky’s magic dust was filling the entire hospital.

~Mary Z. Smith

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