At my age, I have started to think a lot about a bucket list. In all honesty, it all started a couple of years ago when I was teaching eighth grade. I had this young student who was an old soul. One day we were discussing Orson Well’s Animal Farm when out of left field, he asks, “How does it feel to know that your life is half over?”
That sentence has continued to echo in my head. “How does it feel to know that your life is half over?” This hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing, just something that reminds to kick up my feet every so often. For me, kicking up my feet has had certain undertakings that often get in my way. It requires movement that can sometimes be difficult and painful. A bucket list necessitates planning. Since I also must consider my back issues, coming up with a plan is challenging because I never know when or if I will have another flair up.
Sometimes I have discovered that I just have to move even if it is difficult, and yes, sometimes scary. Take my bucket list trip to San Padre Island; it was a sweet surprise from a caring son-in-law and daughter who wanted to make my birthday extra special.
Still, even my doc warned me not to go on this one. My back pain and my old nemesis had returned with a vengeance. This time, my nurse practitioner warned that I needed a cane to get around, and rest…lots of rest. But I balked; no way was I going to miss out on this birthday adventure, nor was I going to miss out on seeing my kids and my sweet grandbabies. The dreaded cane was bad enough; canes are just NOT sexy.
On the morning I was leaving, I hobbled to my old truck and cautiously threw my gigantic suitcase on wheels in the bed. I drove to the Colorado Springs airport, about a forty-five minute drive. At this point, I was doing okay, better than okay until I tried to get on the shuttle. The kind driver loaded my massive collection of clothes and grandbaby gifts onto the vehicle. Next, I started climbing the stairs with my newly acquired cane in awkward upward movements until something novel occurred. My leg gave out, and I almost fell off the bus! “Well, this is something new,” I mumbled in embarrassment.
For the rest of the trip, I was flagged as a “granny in need.” When the shuttle arrived at the entrance of the airport, I had someone waiting for me WITH a wheelchair. Another first I wasn’t too happy about, but what was I supposed to do? Although I was still embarrassed, I was thankful for the kind staff that made sure I was on my plane on time. When I arrived in Corpus Christi, I had more offers of assistance until I finally found my family waiting for me at my last stop.
My family spotted me first, and I enjoyed their signs that welcomed me back into the fold. After lots of hugs and kisses, we went to the baggage claim, grabbed my home on wheels, and headed to the parking garage. I was so excited to see my family, and I couldn’t wait to head to the beach.
While visiting San Padre Island, I had a great time, including a great talk with my thirteen-year old grandson who was taking self-defense classes for P.E. The question of my cane came up as Mathew seriously asked, “Honey, how would you defend yourself if someone attacked you?”
Without missing a beat, I grabbed my cane while using a stance that Bruce Lee would have been proud of. “Aiyeee!” I mimicked Kung Fu masters from far away Asian countries. Quite impressively, I whipped my cane into almost feverish bursts of menacing power as I moved to and fro, all the while keeping my imagined enemies at bay with my impressive karate impersonations.
Mathew loudly laughed, for he enjoyed my fascinating show of self-defense and my loud guttural shouts that would make those around me question if had just recently escaped from a nearby psychiatric ward. Our fellow beach-goers did not enjoy my self-defense display quite like Mathew. They stared and just well, just stared. Although I do believe, our beach neighbors did quietly take leave and move farther down on the sandy shore. But I didn’t care; I was on the beach with my babies, and life was good…even with a cane.
Yeah, I even look at my old cane differently now too. On my return trip home, I will never forget what airport security asked as my bag and cane went through the scanner. “Ma’am, does your cane have some type of liquid inside it?” I froze and smiled as I envisioned all my play in the ocean with my trusty cane as it helped keep me steady and upright. “Yes, sir I do; it’s ocean water from the Gulf at San Padre Island, just one more souvenir.” Funny how perceptions change when we take a break and enjoy living. And yes, after the water evaporated, I enjoyed all the sand that remained inside too.