From the notes sent on from the hospital, they’ve estimated we’ve got around six months. Why, I ask you, am I surprised? They told me two and a half years ago The Girl had around two years left. I have no idea where the time went. Now that the first signs of that sunset are filtering in, I’ve decided we need to compile a Bucket List for The Girl. Due to the nature of the list, we’ve termed it our Bucket and Spade list.
Of course, this will not be your usual Bucket (and Spade) List. The Girl’s aspirations would not be described as grandiose. It’s unlikely we’ll be strapped together and leaping from a plane as it banks over Auckland Harbour. She won’t be teetering on the edge of some aerial platform with a bungee cord tied to her ankle, hesitating until someone elbows her in the back. We won’t be worrying about how much public liability insurance we’ll need for a lightning circuit around Pukekohe race track in a flame-painted V8 supercar. In fact, her requirements are pretty mundane. This bucket list should be a piece of cake.
Or so I thought.
The first on the list was a trip to the zoo. We did that during the holidays. After the bout of what I suspect was food poisoning from the lunch we bought there, we probably won’t repeat the experience any time soon. But it’s done, checked!
Next, she wants to go to the beach. My family used to have a beach house a couple of hours north of here. That’s where she wants to go. She wants to sit on the beach and build sandcastles and paddle in the water. No problem. She’s got the date indelibly etched into her memory and her bucket and spade practically super-glued to her hands. Weather permitting, they’ll be prized from her grasp and put to use this Friday.
For dinner yesterday she wanted pumpkin soup. Did I mention this list wouldn’t have us dodging bullets or careening down raging rapids in a thimble-sized kayak? I did point out earlier that The Girl’s requests are unlikely to go down in the Guinness Book of Records as the Bucket List least likely to be completed due to the imminent dangers it throws at us?
She wants pumpkin soup? She’ll get pumpkin soup. If it was me, I’d have requested something a little more adventurous. But this is not my list. So I went out and bought pumpkin. Pumpkin at this time of year is only rivalled in price by gold bullion and perhaps Saudi oil – and then I’m not so sure about the oil. Crown pumpkin is $4.99 a kilo. A whole pumpkin could set you back $12. I’m wondering if the pumpkin plants that popped up in my garden could be an unforeseen road to future riches. Although, knowing my luck by the time the bloody things are ripe, pumpkins will be a dollar a dozen. Literally.
Never mind. I’m determined to make her last few months as happy as I can. I get the pumpkin. I peel it, chop it, boil it. Finally, with a flourish worthy of Jamie Oliver, I announce that she’s got pumpkin soup for dinner. She throws back her head and howls because now she wants macaroni cheese. She also wants lemonade and her Queen CD playing. She wants Crash Bandicoot (the one that’s so scratched it won’t load), and she wants to go to the supermarket to buy lollies. I’ve got requests coming out of my ears. I’m getting demands that are making me wonder what what the view from a parachute at three thousand feet looks like. I’m also detecting a certain level of frustration moving in – for both of us.
It’s time to slam on the brakes here.
The Bucket and Spade list already mirrors her Christmas list. She wants presents. She wants to go to Valentines. She wants a Smurf DVD, a Happy Meal and a serving of egg salad. She wants dumplings and telephones and crayons. She wants everything and she wants it now! My Mother-of-the-Well-of-Everlasting-Patience outfit has developed a few creases. There’s a fist-grip stain on the front and one or two rips in the side seam. If she howls once more because I held her up by offering her a milkshake when she knew there was a present waiting on her bed, I’m in danger of whipping off my halo and firing it across the bloody room.
So, I’ve decided to take a step back. I’m not going to try to fit a lifetime of wonderfulness into these last few months. We’ll take each day as it comes. I’ll buy her a present every now and then, wrap it in pretty paper and leave it on her bed. We’ll have a Happy Meal every couple of weeks (okay, so maybe not that often), we’ll thrash her new Queen album, and we’ll take her bucket and spade to the beach. We’ll do our best to make every day we’ve got even happier than the last. And I’ll know that whatever happens, I’ll have done my best and we’ll both have enjoyed every minute of it.
And after all, isn’t that what life is all about?