The Bucket List

Brad and Jim, Assateague, 2005

Brad and Jim, Assateague, 2005

Jim’s Bucket List

1. Go to all the States

Still needed: Alaska, Oregon, Minnesota, Hawaii, The Dakota without the President’s Head (yes, I know which one it is. I am quoting Jim’s list. FYI, He visited South Dakota about 6 years ago for work. He did know that fact up until this past year)

2.  Got to Red Sox game in Boston

3.  Live to see Frances and Brad graduate from High School

4.  Play sports again….

5.  Take the kids back to Chincoteague and ride bikes and go to the beach

6.  Help find a cure for Alzheimer’s

Jim and the kids playing on Assateague Beach, 2007.

Jim and the kids playing on Assateague Beach, 2007.

I would like to discuss this list.

First of all, I think it shows and tells a lot about my husband. He is simple. And I don’t mean simpleminded. I mean, it doesn’t take much to make him happy. Jim is the type of person who is content with what he has; he doesn’t need a lot of material things. His family is what is  important.  Jim has always been a hard, conscientious worker. His medals and promotions while he was in the Air Force show that.

A while back I asked Jim where he had always wanted to go that he had never been. I was thinking his answer would be somewhere warm and sunny (maybe that is what I was wanting…). No, his answer was Alaska. I asked him several more times (he seems to change his mind a lot more these days) and Alaska has been his go to place.

#1.  I am going to make part of this happen. Not sure how yet, but we are going to go to Alaska this year. I just don’t think that waiting for next year is the way to go on this one.  August is the month. We have decided against a cruise. None of us have been on a cruise and none of us really want to go on one. Plus, Jim (and me and the kids) wants to see Alaska. On a cruise ship you are lead to a lot of the tourist traps and don’t get off the beaten path. That is what we are going to do.                                                               Seeing all 50 states probably isn’t going to happen, but that is ok. If we get everything else done on the list (especially #6) then we have done a pretty good job.

#2 will be checked off by this time next week. My parents gave Jim a pair of tickets to see the Red Sox play at Fenway Park for his birthday. Jim literally cried when he opened the card with the tickets in there. I think that is all that is needed to be said.

#3- I just can’t write about this right now. That is too raw and too emotional a subject. I am sure I will discuss it further at some point and time with you. I hope #3 comes true for him too.

#4….we gave Jim a membership to a local tennis club for his birthday. He hasn’t been able to take advantage yet, but hopefully he will. There is a friend that is trying to get him to come play soccer, and we played golf this past Friday, which was our anniversary.  (We took first in our flight. Yeah for us!) I will need to discuss with you how the golf went, but this post is about his bucket list, not where he is in the progression of the disease. So, #4 is a continuous work in progress.

#5. This one gets me. Last year was the first year we were unable to go on our annual Chincoteague trip for Mother’s Day weekend since Brad was just a year old. We have such a great family time. We ride bikes around Assateague, see the ponies and other wildlife and visit quaint little shops, including a delicious bakery. We just have the best and most relaxing time. The kids have mentioned many times how much they missed  going this past year and have been asking if we are going to be able to go this year. It has been a favorite of ours ever since we started the tradition. I am going to make this happen too.

#6. That too is a work in progress. We are working hard to educate everyone on this great need.   We are educating and asking our representatives for help. Have you? We participate in a variety of campaigns to raise funds for research and programs for the Alzheimer’s Association. Will you be participating this year?

So, there is my husband’s bucket list. Have you ever filled one out? What would you want to do if you knew that time was an issue? For us, time is the issue, even though Jim will be with us much longer than his mind will be.

Jim playing volleyball at family camp, 2012.

Jim playing volleyball at family camp, 2012.

There are times I get cynical and think to myself  Why bother? He isn’t going to remember anyway. Why spend all that money and drain our savings if he won’t even know we went?

Frances and Brad. They will remember. We are creating memories for them to have of times with their Dad.

As Frances told me recently when we were discussing what to get Jim for his birthday, “I will know.”

I had been discussing with them what to get Jim and had suggested a Dairy Queen gift card so he could get his coveted ice cream whenever he wanted. She reminded me that is what she had given him for Christmas and for his birthday last year.

I am embarrassed to say that I told her, “That is ok. He probably won’t remember.” At the time I was trying to be a little lighthearted and funny. In retrospect, I didn’t do a very good job.

Once she shot back her answer, I was not only embarrassed and ashamed but infinitely  very proud of her. Sometimes I know I am doing something right.

Financially, we really can’t afford it. I am torn between saving for what is surely coming down the pike and at the same time wanting to help create these lasting snapshots with their father. Which is more important?  I am also trying to keep our lives as ordinary and normal as possible for as long as possible. UGGGHHHHH.

Who knows if I am making the right decisions now. I am sure there are times that I am not. I am also sure that there are times that I am.

Only time will tell. In the meantime, I have a list to start checking off….Lookout Boston, here we come!

We camped out one very windy night on Chincoteague in 2010.

We camped out one very windy night on Chincoteague in 2010.


posted by Karen in Uncategorized and have Comments (7)

7 Responses to “The Bucket List”

  1. Robin Walker says:

    I am a nurse. I take care of dementia residents in an ALF. I believe when all seems forgotten, there are sparks of times when they remember things we think lost. The smiles, laughter, facial expressions etc. I think what you are doing is wonderful and it will mean a lot to you and you family for many years to come.

  2. Mary says:

    I am also a registered nurse. Retired 1 yr ago after 40 years. I know in my heart you are right on target. Financial worries do come into play when planning trips. Our children are raised and living on their own, so that part is easier . You still have young children to consider so that adds to your worries. Our favourite vacations are cruises. We have been on several but need to go on another one while the time is still right. So overwhelming to think of our future, I can relate to your dilemma in picking out an anniversary card. Our 39th anniversary is Dec. 4 and I thank God everyday for all of those wonderful years. Anyway, Karen I think you are doing the right things. He might not remember his bucket list vacations but you and your kids will. Thanking of you, Mary

  3. Karen, my husband and I are true YANKEE fans but this is one time we will be routing for Boston!
    God bless your family!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Shelley! We are looking forward to a relaxing, fun time (once I find us a place to stay!)
      Thank you for writing.

  4. Mary says:

    However, being a registered nurse doesn’t make the mental pain any easier!

  5. Lee Ann says:

    I’m also a nurse. Gee, there’s a lot of us out there. Retired for a year. I’ve noticed a lot of residents in the special care unit we have that they do, at times, remember the good things. And it helps to have things to remind them about. They seem to remember what was important at the time. I have had two patients that remembered the Holocaust with tattooed numbers on their arms. And they are somewhat stuck in that memory. But I have people that bring up a memory that makes them just glow. Good memories are as important to the patient as they are to your kids and you. Their memories seem to be on a sort of rolodex, and a memory pops out once in awhile. When there are a lot of good memories, the patient is a whole lot happier, in general. you are doing just fine.

  6. Chris says:

    Ron’s disease progressed so rapidly that we never had the chance to talk about his bucket list. You are so fortunate to have this list and the opportunities to help him check off some of those items.

    We’re all busy making memories for our children. I feel like they are the ones who pay an even higher price than we do.

    Are you doing the right thing? Doesn’t matter. We’re doing the best we can under impossible circumstances.

    Keep checking off the items on that list!!

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