My aunt and uncle had a marriage you would want to model yours after. Together for almost 30 years, they met in their late twenties while working together. She, a beautiful French Canadian woman with long raven hair, he was a tall and skinny Anglophone who was charming yet humble. He would leave fresh fruit on her desk every morning as a sign of affection until she caught him one early day. They began dating almost instantly. The two were a perfect match.
They spent many years together, never bored. On rainy nights they would delight themselves with music, she on her beautiful old piano handed down from her parents. My uncle with his trusty guitar, inventing new music, singing (my uncle had a good voice), sipping tea over political discussions. He would tell her how she should play the drums, since she was so musically inclined. She would laugh, say “perhaps” and continue playing the piano. They volunteered together caring for the sick and elderly. She would volunteer to teach children English and he would give back to the church through endless amounts of selfless volunteerism. They were not just married they were best friends. That’s unfortunately rare in marriages.
Tragedy hit in 2002. My uncle was diagnosed with stage 5 colon cancer. He ate well, he exercised regularly, but the doctor’s rigorous chemotherapy was just too much for that poor man. He passed away in 2004.
Many people idolize a person when they have passed on. We say only the best of things about those who have left us, and keep only the best in their memory. My uncle was not one of those people. He was the best, everything he seemed to do was selfless and for others. He was humble, he would do good deeds and not let you know he did them. He was a real class act.
When he was dying, he made it quite clear to my family to do the things you wanted to do by completing the bucket list. A bucket list is your life time goals, hopes, and dreams, which must be accomplished before the end of your life. He had accomplished many of those dreams, but put some off for a later date. He encouraged my siblings and I to complete our dreams as we have them. “Life is too short” he said. He is right.
I was twenty one when he told me to complete my list. Life for a twenty one year old is just beginning, and here is my uncle, a week shy of sixty, and already his life is ending. I have to begin my bucket list.
When my uncle died, my aunt was a shell of who she used to be. She was devastated, and of course doctors would suggest different methods of coping. She however, found her own cure. She took my late uncle’s advice and began playing the drums. My classy French Canadian aunt with the elegance of a gazelle was banging to ACDC on the drums within months. She would have recitals with students half of her age, and they treated her as the belle of the ball. With every tap to each drum, I felt as though my uncle’s hand guiding hers. She played the drums and she was GOOD.
It was at that point, a year after my uncle’s death that I had to make things happen for my bucket list. After saving a bit, I jumped on a plane and saw Paris, a dream I had since I was a child. It was more then I thought it would be, and I felt alive.
My aunt’s therapy for my uncle’s death was to complete his bucket list for her. He knew that she would be talented enough for the drums and he was right. I know he is watching over her, guiding her every movement, feeling the rhythm of the drums, embracing her every beat. She is alive again, though no one will get over his death, the drums got her through it. Life, even through death is a constant journey.
We must all try to accomplish our bucket lists and embrace other’s positive insights into our own lives. Life is so short. What will it take for each of us to put ourselves first? C’est la vie, but we must make it our own.