Janet Sheridan: I hope to have time
Since the 2007 movie, “The Bucket List,” senior citizens occasionally make the news by celebrating their birthdays with daring exploits or unusual experiences. When I learn that former president George H.W. Bush jumped out of an airplane or that a gray-haired grandmother rode a camel across the Sahara, I think, “Oh, my, that was plucky.”
But I’m not interested in experiencing adventurous or grand feats before I die. I don’t want to ski down Mt. Everest or tour the world carrying only two changes of underwear. Instead, I’d like to enjoy more of the small, quiet moments that enrich my life.
I hope to once more breathe air laced with bluster and salt, as I look out on an ocean spread before me, ceaseless and omnipotent. I want to sit on a park bench in a large foreign city of character, watching residents pursue their lives and hearing the lilts and rhythms of an unfamiliar language.
I want to eat thick slabs of toasted homemade bread slick with melted butter and feel the guiltless enjoyment of childhood.
I’d like to hear my siblings laugh as they tease me, and I want to make a baby chortle by pretending to gobble its fingers. I hope to hear my older loved ones share their ailments, worries, joys and sorrows because they know I’ll listen with understanding. I want to sit with my husband in a yard filled with spring and talk lazily about our day, the emerging trees, and bypassing birds.
I haven’t ridden my bicycle enough, offered help enough, or planted enough flowers. There are rivers I haven’t waded, jokes I haven’t heard, salmon recipes I haven’t tried, and apologies I haven’t made. I want to fill with anticipation as I study the cover of an unread book and with a sense of loss when I finish it; I’ll never feel I’ve read enough books.
My bucket list includes rambling conversations with every friend I’ve ever held dear without wasting time on why we lost touch and quiet visits of gratitude to the graves of my loved ones.
I want to feel breezes that flit and flirt without becoming bossy and to watch snowflakes change from sparse and surly in a miserly showing to full and graceful in swirling dance. I’d like to experience time and again the many faces of rain: drops that patter or pour, smell of lightening or plowed earth, appear playful or determined.
I need more time to salute the flag as it passes in parade, make others feel good about themselves, write all the ideas stored in my head, and tell family stories with my siblings as we sit, well fed, around a welcoming room.
I want the right words to explain why I’m sorry to those I’ve wronged, without expecting forgiveness, and to have them understand my words. I’d like the skill to hug others when it will help, to find words of comfort for those who’d rather not hug, and to know which approach is best.
Though I no longer have a classroom, I hope to once again teach a child so I can see eyes fill with learning. I’d like to master new skills that will unleash my determination, creativity and energy. I want to watch my maturing grandchildren collect habits, achievements, and experiences that will result in adults of worth.
And, my last wish-list item: I’d like to have the time and the wisdom to linger with those I care about after dinner, at the party, in the conversation, along the trail, watching a sunset, over a cup of coffee, or on the patio in the embrace of darkness and stars. And see no need to hurry.
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