I recently visited with someone I had not seen in almost 50 years. We met at Valdosta State College in the early 1970s, but she was only there a short time. That was the last contact I had with her, yet our friendship was memorable enough to easily pick up where we left off.
Please understand this is not a story about romance. We did once go on a date together, but not with each other. She went with Jim, and I was with her friend Latrelle. And we danced until almost midnight even though three of us were Baptists.
The element of romance probably doesn’t matter to either of my regular readers, but I felt compelled to address it. The Vice-President of the Proof Department at Joiner’s Corner has made two old-fashioned chocolate pies lately at my request. I don’t want to jeopardize prospects of having more of that spectacular pudding topped with meringue so light it defies gravity.
My friend, Becky, and I filled in some blanks while sipping hot tea on a rainy afternoon at Lake Blackshear. After covering the present, we took a nice stroll down memory lane. Virtual tours of the past are not a bad option at this point in life. Memories often grow sweeter with the passing of time. Then she posed a question which I’ve never spent much time thinking about.
“What’s on your bucket list?” she asked, her query taking me by surprise.
“I don’t really have a bucket list,” I answered. “I’m not even sure how many buckets we have. My guess is seven or maybe eight, but it’s never crossed my mind that I should make a list of them.”
Her disarming smile was unchanged from decades earlier, a sign I interpreted as an indication I should continue.
“Our buckets are mostly white or yellow. We had a brown one, but it finally got so many cracks in it we threw it away. Most of our buckets originally contained hydraulic fluid or chemicals used on our farm. There’s only one I know of that had waited emptily on a store shelf until we purchased it.
“The bucket we bought came from Survivors Bait & Tackle on St. George Island. When our family was there on vacation last summer, I bought some shrimp for our grandchildren to fish with. I didn’t have a container to carry them in, so I weighed the options of a small Styrofoam minnow bucket or a five-gallon plastic one. I figured the bigger bucket would be more useful at home.
“Jane uses that bucket when she picks up pinecones. We’ve gotten our money’s worth already and it could easily last another ten years. Plastic buckets are quite durable if they’re taken care of. Jane loves working in the yard and I try to make sure she has good equipment.
“We also have a couple of small metal buckets that probably hold two gallons or so, but that’s just a guess. One of them came as a door-prize at an annual meeting of Middle Georgia Electric Membership Corporation. It’s a nice bucket that certainly deserves to be included on a list. I don’t remember where the other one came from unless it was a beach trip, but that’s highly speculative.”
Before wrapping up this column, I need to disclose I have taken considerable liberties with the truth. As I began writing it seemed potentially amusing to answer Becky’s question in a different manner than expected. I hope you agree, but either way, here’s a condensed version of what really happened.
When Becky asked what was on my bucket list, I told her the first thing that came to mind. “I’d like to write something that makes a difference,” I said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m famous for it, or if I make any money with it, but I’d love to know I’ve written something worthwhile.”
“You’re already doing that,” she responded with warm affirmation. I know my friend is sincere, and I hope she’s right, at least some of the time. Her question led me to do some soul searching, and I’m offering you that same opportunity: What’s on your bucket list? Is it worthwhile?
I hope today’s column was worth your time. I’ll try again next week if you’ll let me. If I stop writing these stories my daily routine will no doubt take a troublesome turn. Pinecones are steadily falling like gentle spring rains, and I’ve said far too much to hide the other buckets.
Classic. Glad you’re keeping Jane supplied with quality equipment to gather cones!!
Sent from Mail for Windows 10
Dear Mr. Neil,
You write “something that makes a difference” & “something worthwhile” each time you write. Beyond your words, your live has written something that makes a difference to the many people who have had the good fortune to know you. Now please, do not jepordize your good standing with your proof editor, a lifetime is a long time to go without delicous chocolate pies! Hugs to you and Mrs. Jane.
That should be “your life” not “live”. Clearly I’m in need of Mrs. Jane’s proofing skills.
The best buckets in the world are from Tractor Supply: the heavy duty ones you feed horses with.
Kudos for recognizing on which side your bread is buttered! I agree with Stacey: your articles are definitely making a difference! They are humorous and usually contain a good life lesson. I love reading about your childhood and also about elderly people in your community who’ve made a difference, too. Keep up the good work and you might think about lengthening your bucket list before you kick the bucket!
Neil, Ditto to what Stacey and Ellen said. We are truly blessed to have friends like you and Jane. I look forward to your column each week so please keep writing.
Hi Neil. I, too, look forward to your article each week. You really have a way with words and you are the kind of guy who deserves to be listened to. I hope your buckets-all of them-last for a long time.
Neil, Thanks for always “keeping us grounded “. Life can really become over complicated
and yes, we need to remember what really matters in our lives! Thanks for your candid
and “making meaning” for everyone!