By Barbara Younger
I don’t have a” bucket list.” It seems so crass to decide what things you really want to do before leaving this earth, as if then you would be ready for death. I know I’m on the short end of life, but having a list to complete seems to be rushing things—if I complete it too fast, then what? What if I never complete it?
On a recent trip, an experience my husband Joe and I had was reminiscent of the proverbial bucket list.
We are both over 80 and had not been out of the United States in nearly six years. We were deciding what kind of a trip we should take to celebrate our 60th anniversary. We don’t like cruises; we wanted to travel on our own, not with a tour. We are quite aware that travel can be stressful and fast moving. Actually, we almost talked ourselves out of going almost up to the date of departure.
What we chose were three cities we had always wanted to visit. Bilbao, Spain; Prague, Czech Republic; and, Berlin.
The trip was a success. Before we left we had called it our last trip to Europe. But now we’re not sure it was. We found that we used transportation more than all the walking we used to do. There were buses, of course, but also pedi-cabs which could take us off road through parks and side streets.
The highlight of our visit was in Prague. While seated at a sidewalk café, we noticed the young couple next to us were speaking English, so I greeted them and discovered they were Canadian. While we exchanged our country origins, I noticed how their wedding rings gleamed almost as much as their young eyes (no crows’ feet). So I ventured, “Are you newlyweds?” “Yes, they answered, how did you know?” I mentioned the shine of their rings and the young man told us his ring was actually not new but had been his deceased father’s. We spoke of the meaning that gave to their life. Then I told them how pleased I was to be seated next to them at the start of their life together, for Joe and I were celebrating a marriage of 60 years. Naturally, they were amazed at such a long marriage. They had not considered how many years made a long marriage.
The young woman asked, “What advice would you give us?” I said, “travel. Always find someplace to explore. It will help to keep your marriage exciting. Even if you don’t think you can afford it, find a place that meets your budget and go!”
At the end of the evening, as Joe and I were walking back to our hotel, we felt we had come full circle, for in 1956 we were newlyweds in Tokyo. We were in the lobby of the Imperial Hotel when we were approached by an older couple. The gentleman commented on how young we were and asked us how we happened to be traveling in Tokyo. He told us how lucky we were to be able to travel while we were young; that he and his wife had not begun to travel until they were older. He suggested that we always put travel at the top of our list. He didn’t call it a “bucket list.”
Barbara Younger, attorney, mediator, matriarch, is a facilitator in family conflict resolution.