Since then, bucket lists are a common meme among most Americans - I don't know about other countries – and some people take them quite seriously.
If ever there is a time for a bucket list, it is when you are diagnosed with something as serious as pancreatic cancer.
In off moments since my diagnosis, I've been running the idea through my mind to see if there is something I want to do. An experience I've missed. A place I long to visit. A do-over maybe. Or something.
And nothing comes to mind.
The thing is, I've had a terrific life. Nothing spectacular, some disappointments, a bunch of terrific jobs that introduced me to ideas and people and places in the world I would never have done on my own. And taught me or led me to pretty much everything I know.
Most of my friends and acquaintances over the years have been smart, interesting, good people that I love spending time with even, these days, at a long distance. Too many I love died too young. I miss them but I hold them close in my heart still.
Further, in doing this blog, I've found how many people are unprepared for retirement and flounder around for a long time without a place to go every day, without a job or title by which to define themselves.
It was different and so much easier for me. In no way did I plan it; I just got lucky. I started this blog before the end of my career, segued with it to full time and now, after about 14 years, it is who I am and what I do: I write and produce a blog about what it is really like to get old.
And people actually read it. How good is that.
I would like to keep doing it for – oh, how about another 14 years or so. May the gods - and modern medicine - grant that wish.
MY BUCKET LIST
But just in case, isn't there something I can come up with for a bucket list? Well, yes - if it is about longings. Two items but only one is doable.
Bucket list items, by their nature, are one-time things so this doesn't fit exactly but I think about it all the time: I wish I could live in New York City again. Not just visit. Live there. It is where I belong. The ground that I love. It is my home.
That's the undoable one. Here's the other:
There is a small, unpretentious restaurant in the coastal town of Cannon Beach, Oregon. I don't know its name but I know how to get there and they make the best fried razor clams I've ever eaten. As plain as the restaurant is, their razor clams dish is a world-class.
It's been awhile since I've been to the coast (it's only a two-hour drive) and a good friend has already signed on to take us there for lunch as soon after the surgery as I can do that.
TELLING OUR STORIES
On Monday this week, I came to see that there is something else, not a bucket list item, that is the best thing ever to get me through this “trial” and, after the surgery, to carry me forward for as long or short as it will be.
Two neighbors, a couple, came by my apartment that day. They are heading the little “committee” that will take care of necessities (like the cat) while I'm in hospital.
We finished that business and then spent the next 20 minutes or so telling funny stories about the pets (they had just adopted a new cat to replace one who died a few months ago) and other animals we've known and loved. We laughed so hard and I am still smiling from that as I write today, Tuesday.
Later that day, I had a phone conversation with an old friend on the east coast, telling him about my new predicament. We got through that and then we talked politics (we're both addicted) and comedians we like and some movies and TV shows and we laughed a lot about all kinds of things.
About life. Not death.
That's what I want from everyone right now. I'm not even in the hospital yet or in recovery yet but what energizes me and makes me happy and makes me feel alive is being with people, telling our stories and laughing together.
What's on your bucket list?