She’d made it to the ripe old age of 72, to the surprise of most of us.  My mother was far from a healthy specimen, and we’d all expected her to leave us much sooner than she did.   She was a stubborn one though, on many fronts, including what she believed she could and couldn’t do.

Let’s go back a bit though, to 1996, the last year of my father’s life.  He was 53 years old, had worked most of his life and had raised three daughters the best he could.  Dad had reached the point in his life, when he could finally think about doing some things for himself. 

My father had always dreamed of riding the rails between Las Vegas and Denver Colorado.  He’d never been to America… In fact, after immigrating to Australia when he was 16, the only overseas travel he’d done, was a long stint in New Zealand. 

Dad would talk about the train trip between these two destinations with such joy, and such desire. He wanted to ride the train because the track twisted and turned over itself countless times.  I can recall him telling me this on more than one occasion, and it was at these moments I saw my father’s face light up.

Sadly, he never got the opportunity.  Without any such warning, my father suffered a fatal heart attack in January 1997 and he passed at 54. 

My mother continued for another 22 years without my father by her side.  She lived in the same house, in the same street, and never actually returned to work. She never remarried. I believe she had another man in her life for a short while, but it didn’t last long.

Mum seemed relatively happy. Obviously she did it hard for a long time after Dad died. But to the outside world, and even her daughter she seemed to have her ducks in a row.  She took in some foster children, and so income was regular and steady.  She was earning more than enough to live a good life.

She never showed much desire to go anywhere, or do anything. In fact, she was a very large woman and doing a lot was difficult for her anyway.  She was very content (so it seemed) living in her house, and doing her own thing, reading, crosswords, knitting.

Then the phone call came in from her just two short weeks before she passed.  She’d been admitted to hospital because she hadn’t been feeling well.  I made sure I phoned her every day for a progress report and visited regularly. The hospital was an hour and half away for me, and I had my children to take care of as well, so I couldn’t go in daily. 

I did spend time every day on the phone, talking to her, and we had some of the best conversations we’d ever had.  We said the things we needed to say, and I was able to share some thoughts with her which eased her mind greatly.

See, we’d had a very rough upbringing, and even though she’d done her best, Mum suffered from depression and possible bi polar disorder, so abuse was common.  Mum had no self esteem, self worth, self confidence or self belief in herself, so how she was expected to pass this onto her children is beyond me.  It was this ease I was able to give her… That I got it… I really did.

Fast forward to two days before she passed.  We had a brief moment together between visits from her estranged daughters.  Mum grabbed my hand and looked me directly in the eyes.

In a very tired voice, she said to me…  “I want you to know…. Out of all the things you could do in this life, the only thing I ever wanted to do, was see the Grand Canyon, that’s all I wanted to do.”

She fell asleep then, and they were the last words I’d hear her speak.  The following day she was transferred to a hospital closer to her home, and then before I arrived the next day, she was gone.

I had some grief to deal with, so her words didn’t sink in for awhile. Then one day I was sitting on my balcony and I sat bolt upright!  It occurred to me, that both my parents never got to do the one thing they wanted to do with their lives.  Neither of them made their Big Grand Dream a reality, because neither of them believed they could, so they didn’t.

Fancy living for 72 years and never seeing the Grand Canyon?  

What it made me realise is that many of us, including me sometimes, are all living our lives thinking about what we’ll do when we retire, or what we’ll do when this happens or that happens.  And many of us, will wake up one day at however old and realise that we’ve missed the boat, that it’s too late to go, do, and see the things we wanted to.

That is why I refuse to have a bucket list.. I have a NOW list instead. That means I am doing the things I want to do NOW, regardless of who says what.  I am making sure that I go, do and see the things I want NOW, before I wake up one day and realise it’s too late for me.  The other things can wait, I am reprioritizing what’s important in my life and doing the MUST DO’s first!  Then I can focus on the rest of it. 

So what about you?  What’s on your MUST DO list that you’ve been putting off?  What is the one thing you want to do above all else, that you’ve been waiting to do?


Find the way to do it now, no matter what it takes… Because otherwise, you may find yourself on your last day and your life here may end without you doing what you needed to do.