At this point in my life, I find that I actually do spend time thinking about the things I’ve done and those that remain on my bucket list.
During my lifetime I have had opportunities that others have not had, such as traveling within the continental U.S. to many places of interest. Sometimes it was just for a conference that lasted a few days and sometimes it was a trip planned by Angela.
Angela was the trip planner in the family, she really enjoyed all the research and information gathering. She had a real knack for unearthing interesting material about our destination and then figuring out how much we could do in the time allotted. Even before the advent of Google she knew how to get materials from various sources so that our trip would be filled with interesting and pleasant things to do and see. I was never the trip instigator, I’m usually content to just hang around and enjoy our home or town or state. After all, we do live in scenic New England, don’t we?
“People travel here as a destination, so why bother to go somewhere else,” I would say. But Angela would have none of that rationalization for staying put. She would plan the trip and then guide me through it.
Now, I realize how much we were able to enjoy ourselves because of her diligence. Our family trips, in particular were memorable, mainly because they provided opportunities for us to be together in pursuit of a new experience; precious time well spent.
When we were able to travel to Europe, it brought everything up a notch; getting to see places we had read about, or in my case, places that I had grown up hearing about from my mother. As much as she loved America and appreciated all that this country offered to her as an immigrant, she never lost her love of her native town, a place that is hewn out of the side of a mountain right above the sparkling waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
So much so, that when we visited Amalfi for the first time, I thought I was in a familiar place, feeling the pull of my ancestors who had lived there.
The last time we traveled together, Angela and I toured Sicily, an exotic neighbor of the Italian peninsula. It was one of the best times for us in that the tour that we were enjoying was beautifully planned, with interesting places to see and people to meet. Even though it was our last trip together, and in retrospect, the beginning of Angela’s physical decline, it was a joy to experience.
So now, I think about what lies ahead for me. What kinds of things are there for me to do and see alone, without my traveling companion and trip organizer? Would I actually take that cross-country train trip that remains on my bucket list? Probably not. Would I manage to organize myself enough to even plan something less ambitious than that? I doubt it.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my son Frank that with the approach of Independence Day, my thoughts always fall back on a long-time goal for me, a visit to Bristol, R.I., to see the parade there. It’s billed as the oldest and largest Independence Day parade in the country, going back 234 years. We had relatives there who always invited us to visit for the parade, but we never did. So, much to my surprise, Frank announced that he had arranged for us to go to Bristol for the parade this year. He had secured bleacher seats and a box lunch for the festivities. And so, this year, after waiting my whole life, I got to experience this wonderfully joyful and patriotic event. This time it wasn’t Angela, but Frank who took over as organizer and facilitator, and I felt really blessed.