Many long years ago, back before television and punch button phones, when we listened to the “Hit Parade” on the radio, even before Bing Crosby crooned “Far Away Places,” I had a Bucket List. That phrase wasn’t in use then. I called it a wish list, three places I wanted to see, to actually stand and feel the sweat and whip lashes that went into building these monuments that would last forever.
Two out of three came about. I stood on the Great Wall of China. I walked along Hadrian’s Wall in Roman Britain. Ed and I had pondered the possibility of the Panama Canal but it wasn’t to be for us.
A chance remark while in South Carolina changed the picture. Casual talk and I made an off-hand comment about not finishing my Blog list, too late, too old now. Subject forgotten, we move on to our current goal of ancestor hunting.
Now my sister is not one to waste time. At supper that evening she announced: We are booked on a cruise to the Panama Canal leaving December 12.
Unbelievable. A chance remark, the brochure landing in front of her with the magic words.
A quick answer came. “You’re damn tootin’ I can.” A week later, ice pack on left arm, I am scooted by wheelchair through all the X-ray and security and I am on my way.
Roommate, niece Kathy, was a wonderful addition to this trip. When I decided on a bath and knew it wouldn’t be possible for me to get upright from the tub, she not only gave me a shampoo, helped me out, but also curled my hair for the evening event.
First stop – Aruba. Kathy and I explored the pretty town of Oranjestad, I had hoped to take a tour of the Butterfly Farm but a tired body took me back to our wonderful patio mini-suite for a comfortable nap.
Then another setback: For the next stop at Cartagena, Columbia, I had planned, looked forward, really wanted the emerald workshop to learn a few techniques on creating a necklace. But it wasn’t to be. Something hit me. I struggled to get out of bed at the sound of the alarm clock. I wanted to go. The body didn’t. No fever, no cough, but something had crashed me. It was back down on that bed for a solid 24 hours of barely moving. Eventually sister Nancy made me sit up and poured water and soup down me. I came back to life but it was too late for Cartagena and too late for the tour from the Atlantic to the Pacific I had booked when the Coral Princess reached Gatun Locks. I returned to horizontal on my bed and thought all was lost. A dream of years so close.
However, sometimes what appears to be a Disaster is really a Blessing. As we came close to the Locks, I found I could move to the balcony and sunshine. The ship moved slowly into the narrow strait. And I had a double view. The TV in the cabin gave the picture as we moved forward into the Locks. My view, looking over the balcony, was right on top of water which disappeared lower and moved us into Gatun Lake. Instead of a tour by helicopter or train, I was part of the action. This couldn’t be better!
Mission accomplished. The rest of the cruise was pretty icing for the cake. My energy was slow in returning and I didn’t do the tours I had planned such as inner tubing down a river in Ocho Rios. Instead I rode the banana railroad in Costa Rica. I accompanied Nancy and Buford around Coyaba Gardens to feed parrots.
I spent leisure time wandering around the decks of this beautiful ship. In my pocket were business cards showing “The Alternate Safe World of Sanctuary.” I talked to people lazying on the deck and passed out the cards to do a little promotion on my book.
This ship had a different clientele than other ships previously traveled. Two by two appeared to be the theme. As I sat and watched, it seemed that the majority of the travelers had reached the age when the children were raised and money could now be spent on going to fun places by themselves.
As I watched this chunk of life around me, Myrt-ty-ky-ly, the fierce dragoness, joined me in my observations. My next book, her Autobiography, always stayed in my thoughts and now she added a couple of stories to be typed when reaching my computer.
Home again. Grateful to Nancy for her part in finishing up my Bucket List. Grateful to Nancy, Buford and Kathy for taking such good care of the old lady. And wondering when I can casually sneak in another Bucket List to the conversation. :-)
The theme of this story: Be careful what you wish for. It is so very nice when it actually happens.
Mariam Lewis Heiny Cheshire January 2, 2015
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