For their 43rd wedding anniversary, Beverly and Winston Parsons decided to take a two-night trip from their home in Hampden, just off Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula to Gander to take in a performance of the musical Come From Away.
They never got to see the show — but they didn't return home empty-handed.
On the first day of their trip in mid-July, they stopped at a convenience store to buy refreshments, Parsons said.
"I told my husband to get a [lottery] ticket, and I threw it in the backpack."
The following day, they went out to see the show, only to discover it show had been cancelled.
It was disappointing, says Parsons, because the musical and the 9/11 events that inspired it hold a special meaning for her. She remembers the day the Twin Towers were hit, and the ensuing days in which as many as 7,000 diverted airplane passengers landed in Gander. At that time, she was a teacher with a class of small children, trying to "cope with how something like that could happen."
A few years later, while on the road to St. John's for her cancer checkup, she found herself caught in traffic, a lineup of vehicles full of people waiting to see a piece of steel from the towers that had been brought to Gander. She had the opportunity to see and touch it.
"So there's all of those things that has happened in our lives that make you think, I guess, we're pretty lucky to be where we are and be thankful for every day."
'I checked it again and again'
The morning after what would have been the night of the show, the couple returned home. Parsons says she unpacked her bag, and threw the lottery ticket on the desk. Shortly after, she saw an announcement on Facebook about a winning ticket sold in Gander.
"I checked it and it was just pure shock. I checked it again and again," she said. In her hands was a $1-million ticket.
She says after the initial shock, the first thing she did was to call her brothers. One lives in Halifax, the other in Ottawa.
"When the lottery hit $50 million, we would always go in on tickets together," she said. "I called my brother in Ottawa through FaceTime and I showed him — or tried to show him because I was shaking so much — and he checked it, and sure enough, it was."
"We will be debt-free," she said and added that she kept true to her and her siblings' deal that if one wins, they will share with the other two.
Come From Away is still on her bucket list.