“Well,” let me ask you this,” the doctor said. “Do you have a bucket list?”
For those unfamiliar with the term, it comes from a movie title about a couple of codgers who have a list of things they want to accomplish before they “kick the bucket.”
These were not exactly the words I had hoped to hear from the doctor but there also didn’t seem to be room for negotiation.
I had just been released from a rehabilitation center after 61⁄2 weeks of treatments to bring me back from a bout with atypical pneumonia.
The pneumonia was diagnosed on a day when I was due for radiation therapy to treat lung cancer. Soon after I arrived for treatment, it became apparent I had no idea where I was or why I was there.
In fact it was days more before I was able to rouse myself enough to asked wife Beverly the question: “What the hell is going on?” She explained it all to me with her usual patience and, eventually, I understood, at least in a foggy, post-ventilator kind of way.
Among the things I learned during my confinement was that I had to abide by the rules of the institution. Though I understood the reasons for the rules, I hated them. (I’m sure it’s me. Most people, probably have no qualms about asking for help getting on and off the toilet but I find it a touch degrading.)
I spent a great deal of time staring out the window and counting the days until freedom.
Then, one day last week, we were handed the likely prognosis. I won’t bore you with a long list of treatment options because evidently there aren’t any.
Rather we were told to enjoy the time we have left, and certainly we intend to do so.
I’ve wondered if, when the time came, I would have regrets over things I never got to do.
The answer I can tell you is not exactly that simple.
I’ve had a generally happy life, with the ability to support a large and loving family in an occupation I loved. Later in life, to my delight, I was able to persuade the woman I love to marry me and begin what we had hoped would be a long writing partnership.
Ideally we’d have had more time together, but then Beverly tells me that marrying me was the best thing she ever did, and I must say I feel the same about her so no regrets there.
We’re making plans for travel, summer parties and traditional Stockade district events, but we’re not scheduling too far into the future. We’ll keep you posted.
Irv Dean is the Gazette’s city editor. His opinion is his own and not that of the Gazette. Reach him by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.