It was a great day. The kind of day when you stop and sit for a while, you realize that the smile you are wearing has been on your face for several hours. You are not sure when it started but are pretty sure it had it’s roots in the early morning when you anticipated the adventures of the day. I knew the day would be this way because – Jan – was coming to visit.
Jan is my cousin – by name only. She was married to a cousin of mine who did not bear my maiden name and when they broke up, she married another man who “did” bear my family name but was not related to me. It was the kind of schizophrenic logic that seems to prevail whenever Jan is around. Now, don’t get me wrong because she is far from “ill”. In fact, she is quite well. In addition to the fact that she is a nurse – for which I have total respect from the get go – she has a long list of governing boards on which she has sat over the course of her active and “retired” years including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Parkinson’s Society for Canada. Her passion for geneology would have her connecting name to name throughout history from the time of William the Conqueror to Pierre Elliott Trudeau. “Always look for opportunities”, is her motto in life. And this motto has seen her adventure around the world, it has also seen her rappelling down the side of the City Hall, throwing axes at “Iron Nation” in Barrie, and .. some other things to which I have been sworn to secrecy. I have known Jan since I was practically born and her family and mine always maintained close ties as they would visit my family acreage frequently to go camping, enjoy our bonfires together, to swim, and of course enjoy Dad’s Billy Burgers and Body Builder (home-made wine). We all knew the burgers were really Mom’s creation, but it was good to give Dad some credit for his efforts to cook them on a maple-wood fired barbecue.
“Well, I can strike this one off my bucket list”, Jan announced as she and I, along with my daughter and her friend, celebrated our first attempt at “axe-throwing”.
“Was that on your list?” asked my daughter.
“No. But I’m going to put it on so I can cross it off”, Jan explained.
“What’s on your bucket list, Stacey,” asked my daughter’s friend.
“I don’t really have one”, I decided after a pause. “At least – not like your typical bucket list. Mine, is made up of people. When I was diagnosed last year with my cancer, I had the real concern that I may not live to see this past spring. I was pretty sick and needed some extensive intervention. There was nothing I really wanted to do – nothing I really wanted to see in terms of the Wonders of the World. What I needed to do most, however, was to connect, or re-connected with people. Not only did Kevin and I connect with friends and family via phone – I became very active on WordPress and Facebook. I made connections with people every day. I buried the hatchet with people with whom I felt I needed to reconcile, I reached out to people I had not seen since high school, and I invited closer family and friends to visit. My life was full of personal connections. That was my bucket list: people.”
I’m not sure if those at the table had agreed with me or not, but the conversation fell silent for a while after my proclamation of the alternate “bucket list”. And that was okay. Shortly after, the conversation moved to politics, history, and whether or not it was a good thing for Stephen Harper to have associated with the Ford brothers during Harper’s final week of campaigning.
The day did end. My smile did fade. That night – I did not sleep. I’m not sure if it was because of my sore, aching muscles, or the song that kept re-playing in my head. I hate when that happens. I am sure of one thing, though, and that each time I check Jan off my bucket list – I add her back on again!
Yes, it was a great day.