By Sharon Birlson Kirkham
Greetings, WNLP folks … hard to believe it’s been over a year since my last correspondence. Cary and I, however, remain dedicated to the open road with gypsy blood still flowing passionately in our veins, doing our best to narrow that ever increasing “bucket list,” which, during the course of a recent conversation with LaPorte County Animal Shelter Director/darling, Jane Bernard, a long-time entry got scratched off.
Until Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson made their famous movie “The Bucket List” back in 2007, we all had “things to do,” “our heart’s desires,” “love to someday,” and “I’m going to do that when,” but with life happening, grocery lists, oil changes overdue and leaves to rake … not to mention a J-O-B … bucket list was not on our radar. It only becomes a reality when retirement sets in. Then and only then can most of us get serious about a bucket list as a topic of conversation. When we have slowed to a snail’s pace and the dust bunnies become a family doing their own thing, without regard to ever being disturbed, simply because they no longer matter, it’s time to break out the pen and paper.
Cary, a USMC and Vietnam veteran, has always wanted to see Normandy, so after our last visit to London we took a train from Waterloo Station to Portsmouth Harbor in southern England and boarded an overnight ferry across the English Channel to Normandy, where we took in the sites of the famous D-Day beaches and the American Cemetery. Mission accomplished; cross off the list!
This summer we attended our 50th LPHS class reunion. It was surreal … as if for one splendid evening we went back in time. I wanted it to go on forever, but as we know, life doesn’t stand still. I digress, the bucket list … certainly no one was talking about bucket lists back in 1966.
Animal lover extraordinaire, Jane has rescued not only small animals, but some poorly treated donkeys are now well fed and enjoying the security of her paddock. She also has some hidden surfing talent you may want to inquire about. As we were catching up, I mentioned the bucket list and told her my top priority was doing a barrel race. It has remained there for what felt like eons, simply because it seemed so far out of the realm of possibility, but she said, “I can make that happen.” Speak to me, girlfriend! She said, “Come out on Saturday afternoon and I will saddle up Molly and you can run the barrels.”
From the first time I saw an honest-to-goodness rodeo back in 1997 when we took the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Calgary and made an overnight stop in Billings, Montana, where the state fair was going on, I have dreamed about a cowboy hat, bright pink sparkly shirt with long fringe on the sleeves, and “the race.”
As you can imagine, I did not break any rodeo records, and for my authentic horse friends (Linda, Debbie, Dar), please humor me. I loved it, and I’m praying for a repeat performance. Hopefully, a bribe of a Wisconsin State pastry, the legendary “Kringle” from Jane’s own hometown of Racine, and a bag of carrots will get me invited back.
While Cary still lives for our grandson’s upcoming ball games and the next cruise that includes a 24-hour buffet, “ski Dubai” has now moved to the number one spot on my bucket list. Anyone interested?
SHARON BIRLSON KIRKHAM travels and writes. A retired flight attendant, she and her husband Cary were awarded travel privileges for life when she left her job in 2008. They say their intention is to burn it up, and so far they’ve lived up to their promise. Sharon has written and self-published four books, the most recent an e-book, “Skygirl on Cloud 9.” Born, raised and graduated from high school in LaPorte, she and her husband of 36 years are community activists. They love to travel, but always look forward to returning home to their beloved LaPorte.