My husband, Jerry, was a fan of numerology, a “science” like astrology, which goes all the way back to Pythagoras. Proponents believe numbers can affect personality or events. There is no evidence to support that idea, but it’s fun to think about. It’s like magic: a random number can have an influence on some aspect of our life, all of which is out of our control. Who doesn’t love the mystery of magic?
Jerry’s favorite numbers were: 1, 11, 22, 28, 39 and 1959, and probably some others. I don’t think he ever played them in the lottery, although I encouraged him to. I would have liked to see them come up. His numbers were based on dates, mostly birth dates. When the clock would turn over to 10:10 or 5:55, any identical numbers, he would call out, “10:10, make a wish!” I don’t know where he got that but he got me doing it, too. A lot of wasted wishes, I’m afraid.
My favorite number is 8, for my birthday. I am always amazed when I meet someone who has my birthday, July 8, and I remember who they are. There haven’t been many, and that surprises me, considering that the billions of people on earth may be born on only one of 365 (or 366 in Leap Year) days. But maybe date of birth is not something you commonly find out about a person until you get to know them better. So all those July 8th people are out there; I just haven’t met them yet! I have had very little in common with any of the ones I have met, so I guess that debunks the “science” of astrology, though I must confess I do read my horoscope occasionally. And I always read it on my birthday!
Jerry had also heard that “444” was “Die die die!” and would repeat that when that number appeared. I wonder what he would have thought if he knew ahead of time that he was going to die on 02/20/2020. Although 2 was not one of his numbers, he would have nodded his head, and acknowledged that the powers that be had arranged that just for him. By the time he died he was long past such fantasies, however. I know he would have preferred 02/22/2022 as his day to fly away, as that would have given him two more years. But we don’t get to choose those things. I remember telling him that we could celebrate our fortieth anniversary this summer if he lived long enough. “But 39 is one of my numbers,” he said. Was he really saying he wanted to die before July 12th? I don’t think so – but now 39 is etched in our mutual history.
I discovered recently that Jerry’s mother – who died when he was 8 – was born on February 20th. I don’t recall him ever mentioning that. I think he’d appreciate the eerie symmetry of it, though.
I am more practical than Jerry. At the last place I worked, I was the only person who did not pay into the group lottery tickets for Megamillions, when the payout was huge. I know, it’s just a fun diversion, but it was just a waste of money to me. I would listen to my co-workers fantasize about what they would do with their winnings, but their numbers never came up. I liked to fantasize with them, however—-: “If I won the lottery, I would set up a foundation to give it all away. But of course the first thing I would do is quit this job.” (It wasn’t a very good job.) My father played the lottery every week well into his 90’s. He wanted to give the money to his kids, but I don’t recall him ever winning anything.
Now the numbers we try to avoid are the ones that tell us how old we are. We say, “Age is just a number,” “You’re only as old as you feel,” “Life begins at 40, or 60 or…”
One thing is for sure, like it or not: you will die when your number’s up.