A 90-year-old’s bucket list

“People just give up,” he tells me at the age of 90 from his room at the senior’s home. “But you have to dream.” Everyone needs a bucket list, he says. 

We talk about ours. I’d like to go to Turkey and he’d like to go back. I’d like to take a road trip across New Zealand and he’d like to take another cruise through the Panama Canal. 

“I don’t need a big dream,” she tells me. Instead, she asks me to pray for purpose in her life. 

On a Wednesday afternoon, I find myself planning my next big hike. It was my dream to be out in the mountains every weekend. I asked for it, moved across the country for it. And now I feel guilty when I want to sleep in. Some Saturdays, it feels more like a burden than a break. 

She tells us she’s been thinking of that verse for the weary and heavy laden. She tells us that Jesus is our rest. 

Because even small dreams, ripe with expectation, can hold you back. Burden you. Weigh you down. Overpower your ability to live with purpose. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” I remember telling them in a job interview. And I wake up five years later and can barely keep my eyes on that blinking cursor in Word for more than a minute at a time. 

The honeymoon stage has worn off. 

“There are days,” he says, “when we aren’t at our best. But there’s never a day I don’t want to come home to her.” That was what he told me of love long past the honeymoon stage.

Because love lasts–long past. 

Past the point when dreams have lost their charm, been stripped of ego and misdirected passion. Pared down to the bare minimum. 

Love lasts. 

I ask myself more and more frequently what I really need to accomplish in this life to truly feel I’ve made the most of my time here. I ask on late nights when I can’t stop working. I ask as I scroll through flights and sales like an addict. 

I ask like a lawyer once asked Jesus. When He really should’ve known the greatest commandment by His life, His miracles, His compassion, His death and His resurrection. 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind,” He answered. “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,39)

And I call him weekly and we talk about our bucket list.

But really I just call to talk to him. Because I love him. And even if we never do the things we plan to do, I’ve loved him. 

Even if I never do the things I’ve dreamed to do, I’ve loved Him. 

And that will be enough for this life.

And more than enough for the next. 

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

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