For the last twenty years, I have had a note stuck on my fridge door: Things to do before I die.
I was advised a couple of years ago, that this is known as a Bucket List and is very popular with those of us who understand we have a limited time to live. As I get older I have revised the items removing the ones aimed at climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (Everest is too cold), adding more food related tests but still retaining the places I want to visit.
The Kicking the Bucket list by Cathy Hopkins has taken a slightly different slant on this by having the mother of three daughters complete her list after her death.
The book is engaging on many levels as it highlights the relationship between family members and how we manage our expectations and attitudes to life and love.
The book is worth reading for the story alone but the premise behind leaving a list is explained more in the author’s own words.
“So, what’s the point of writing a kicking the bucket list if you’re not going to be around? It’s precisely the fact that you won’t be alive any more that is the appeal because it could be a chance to instruct or direct your near and dear to act out your wishes for them. And who cares if they object or complain? Not you, because you won’t be around to hear any of it.
“I would hate to think that he would ever be lonely so my list for my husband if I went first, would go something like this:
- Get a dog. It will get you out the house, keep you fit and meeting people and will give you unconditional love.
- Stay engaged with people. Join the rugby club, a hiking group, accept invitations, phone friends, invite them over. Don’t become a recluse.
- Remember birthdays and send friends and family cards. The birthday date book is in my desk in my study.
- Eat your vegetables. Five a day. OK, not broccoli. I know you hate that.
- Get rid of that hideous sheepskin car coat. I always hated it. And while we’re at it, throw out some of those Hawaiian shirts too.
- Don’t turn into Victor Meldrew.
- Get out there and learn a new skill. You love cooking so do a course in Thai cookery or French cuisine.
- Remember to turn the gas off after using the oven.
- Lock up at night, front and back.
- Live is for living, make the most of it, so don’t be too sad – but don’t be too happy either. No running round the house singing, ‘ding dong, the witch is dead.’
- And OK, find a companion. I’d like you to be happy and be loved. I would. But remember, I will be watching you…
More generally …
- “Cherish your friends and show them you care for often they are the ones you will need, and vice versa, in tough times. Make time for them a priority.
- Don’t work so hard. ensure there’s a balance between work and play.
- Make everyday special. Live every day as if it’s your last – wear your best, use your good china, finest crystal and burn the scented candles kept only for Christmas.
- Follow your heart and your dreams while you have time and don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
- Choose to be happy. Despite all the sad and worrying news worldwide at present, there is still beauty all around us, especially in nature and there are so many people, the majority in fact, who seek peace instead of war.
- Focus on the good where you can.
- Wherever possible, choose kindness and don’t judge. Everyone has their story.
So, what would you put on a kicking the bucket list for your loved ones? “
The Kicking the Bucket list by Cathy Hopkins is published by Harper Collins in paperback RRP £7.99.