The Bucket List

Community Chronicle, September 2021

The Bucket List

I don’t remember how many years ago it was that I first heard the term 'bucket list’ and what it meant. At the time, I recall thinking that it was a nice idea, however, as I got older, I began to wonder -- ‘so when do I start on this so-called list?’ No one knows when they’re going to kick the proverbial ‘bucket,’ so really, how do you plan? And just as important, what if you go through the whole list? What then? Do you make a new list or just lay down and die? I”m thinkin’ - make a new list. 


I must admit that there are a few things I’ve had on my list over the years, though it wasn’t something formal that I wrote down. Just things I wanted to do, those that meant the most to me. I don’t think it’s morose to say that I could die today and not have any regrets, because I know that I did check the important stuff off my list. 


First, I wanted to write a book and get it published. Call me an overachiever; to date I’ve had three books published, plus been in 10 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Hopefully I’ll have a few more to add. I don’t feel quite done yet. 


The second item wouldn’t seem like such a big deal to many reading this column -- I proudly completed the most complicated quilt I’ve ever attempted (a really big Lonestar). It proudly covers a wall on my home as a reminder of the effort that went into making it. 


The third item, and one that gives me indescribable contentment is once again being a homeowner. I used to own a sweet little cottage-size home in New Mexico, pretty much figuring I’d live there forever. It was tiny, but I didn’t care. I had a nice-sized veggie garden, pomegranates, grew three kinds of raspberries, pomegranates, a wildflower garden, an herb garden, and my pride and joy - over 60 roses growing in front, back and along a fenceline to hide a next door neighbor’s hoarding habit. Life was good. 


Then Mama began going downhill and I knew that I needed to be there for her. We sold our house, packed up everything we owned and moved to my childhood city, San Diego. I did my best for Mama, until she passed eight years later. Living in high-priced San Diego, however, was a difficult place to make ends meet, and buying a home was out of the question; nevertheless we stayed 12 more years until I could retire.  During that 20 years not a day went by that I did not dream of once again owning a home with enough indoor space to stretch out and enough of a yard to grow veggies and roses. We scrimped. We saved. We drove used cards. We didn’t go on fancy vacations like others did or eat out much. We were frugal to a fault. Finally, we had enough for a down payment (somewhere outside of California) and it was time to leave. We looked at northern Arizona, a beautiful area, and New Mexico, where we met, married, and still have a lot of friends. Neither place felt right. Ultimately, we kept looking east. I’d grown up with a Texas Mama, a Texas Nana and several Texas great aunts, uncles and cousins. I’d visited the state more times than I could remember. With my sister and her family living here, plus extended family throughout Texas going back four generations, and Texas blood coursing through my veins, we knew that Texas was where we were meant to be. I  consider myself a fifth generation Texan. Yep. Never mind that I wasn’t born here or that I have a peculiar, non-Texan accent. I’m Texan to the core.  


So far, I’m pretty satisfied with what I’ve managed to strike off my bucket list. Are there other things I’d like to accomplish? Sure. I’ve put together a bucket list just for Texas locales, places I hope to get to one of these days: swim in Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs, see the Marfa Lights, gaze on The Big Tree in Rockport thought to be the oldest tree in Texas, visit Gonzales and San Jacinto, walk along the beaches of the coastline, visit Tyler when 40,000 roses are in full bloom and inhale the sweet aromas until I nearly faint, ride the Texas State Railroad, go  river tubing, ride a zipline and...oh never mind. I’ve got plenty of things to put on the list. I’ll be happy if I manage to get to half of them.