The sweetest story I’ve ever told is the one when Dad died the Wednesday night before Easter in 1995.
He had been diagnosed with lung cancer 6 weeks before, a non-smoker preacher. The nurse said it was in his genes. I drove to Michigan from Georgia with my children 4 weeks later to say our good-byes. But when the nurse called us all back within 2 weeks, I wanted to go again, alone.
He was lying in a make-shift bedroom on a hospice bed in the formal dining room of their home. 7 of us 8 children surrounded his bed (Bennett, the one who himself died a year later, had been with him earlier in the day). We chatted and laughed nervously.
Then Mom walked in from the kitchen. In her early stages of Alzheimer’s, with hands on her hips in utter exasperation, she said, “WHEN is the funeral!?!?”
I, sitting at the foot of the bed massaging Dad’s feet, said with a giggle, “We won’t know, Mom, until Dad kicks the bucket!”
HAHAHA! Even Dad started laughing…and then began: “That reminds me of the grandpa whose little grandson was visiting him in his study, playing with the old waste bucket. The grandson, tossing his toys in and out of the bucket, asked if he could have it…..” And without finishing the story, Dad trailed off into a 6-hour coma before dying.
We laughed because he hadn’t finished the story, which woke him up with a giggle to start the same story all over again from the beginning. Each time he got close to the punch line, he’d trail off again, we’d laugh, he’d wake up with a giggle, and start all over again. This happened 4 or 5 times. He never finished the story with grandpa’s answer (which we already knew from his sermons): “One day, yes, but not until I kick the bucket,” to which the grandson replied “Grandpa, could you kick it now?!”
That was Dad’s last conversation with us before he kicked his bucket.
Now, to connect the dots.
We all know that our Bucket Lists come from that kick-the-bucket idiom. That is, we list what we really want to do before we die!
What I’ve always wanted to do for eons is a European river cruise. Don’t ask me why, though I’m guessing it’s the castles. Now that I live in Europe, you’d think it’d be as easy as pie, right? Wrong, if you have a Dutch wife who doesn’t get it!
Flash back 1 ½ years to when we had American guests visiting us a week before their week’s river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel. When we drove them to their boat and stepped onboard for all of 10 minutes, said wife immediately whispered, “Oh, I think I could do this!”
Long story to say that this Saturday we leave on a 15-day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, the earliest cruise of the season in the cheapest room on board at two-for-the-price-of-one tickets. Do we care that it will be cold? Are you kidding?
Some more dots. Though the above natal chart renders me naked, see that 9th House of long-distance travel? One of those 2 planets is Jupiter in his natural home, giving me “Good Luck” and expansion in travel. In fact, our added 4 days in Budapest over Easter is when I expect Dad will be smiling down on us.
As Astrid jokingly says, if we're gonna die anytime soon, please let it be AFTER our vacation!
So…do you know what YOU want to do before YOU kick the bucket?!