Quarantine Bucket List

I mounted the bike Arnie had bought for himself 15 years ago. Tammie got on the one he’d bought for me at the same time. Seeing no approaching cars on the road, we peddled out the driveway. My entire yard slopes toward the river, so it follows the road in front of my place does the same. Enjoying the cool evening breeze, we coasted downhill across the Little Eau Pleine River bridge.

My daughter and I peddled the next quarter mile in companionable silence. Two deer stepped out onto the road and stood gawking at us. I said, “They won’t survive long if they stop and stare at approaching cars like this!”

Tammie called out, “Go back where you came from.” As if heeding her words, the two animals leapt gracefully off the road to disappear into the dense roadside growth. Turning to me, my daughter said, “By the way, I’ve decided to return to my home in Saint Paul next week.”

From the beginning of our quarantine, I knew Tammie would eventually go back to her own home. The irony, of course, is COVID 19 hasn’t gone away, but spread to even more places now, than at the beginning. The new normal is masks, social distancing and chapped hands from frequent washing.

Being quarantined with my daughter has been no problem for me. I love her company and we get along well. But life is one giant kaleidoscope of changes. I have often told my daughters I want to bloom wherever I am planted. So I’m looking forward to my time alone again with the excitement I had felt when I moved into my first place after high school graduation.

The first month Tammie was with me, we discussed special things we wanted to complete by the end of summer. I chuckled because all the items made me think of a bucket list. Since we both like to procrastinate, many of the things on the list were undone.

As our time together drew to a close, without ever discussing it, each of us got busy. I finally wrapped a cat-scratch post in the basement with the sisal Tammie had bought for me months before. She went into high gear sewing the special masks I wanted. Marathon County gave me a new street address last fall, so we painted the new numbers on my brick house. Bike rides together took on greater importance. We even sat down one day to figure out how to boost my Facebook blog so more people would see it.

Tammie must have had felt the work we were doing was fulfilling our quarantine bucket list, too. One day she told me about articles she’d read on-line, pointing out, “A lot of people are making plans for what they want to do once the pandemic is over.”

Curious, I asked my daughter, “What sort of things are they listing?”

She responded. “You can tell what each person missed the most during quarantine by what they want. Some people just plan to hug friends again. Eating at favorite restaurants was high on most lists. Others had big plans to travel. Over all, everyone wanted to stop feeling afraid they’d get COVID and die.”

I mused, “I wonder if people will appreciate the small things in life after the pandemic is over or will take things for granted again.”

Since the conversation with my daughter, I’ve continued thinking about bucket lists. I suspect most people think of a bucket list as an end of life issue, but I’m recognizing that there are many endings in life; the end of a marriage (death or divorce), the end of a job (retired or fired), the end of living in a certain city or house (new job or snow birding).

Completing the things on a bucket list is like tying a pretty red bow on the top of your latest adventure in life. It says, “I’ve survived…been there, done that. Moving on!”

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