Some years ago, I heard the term “bucket list” for the first time. I understood immediately what it meant. Since then, several friends and family have shared with the Cancer-Boy what the bucket list means to them. And, to be honest, as a stage-four pancreatic cancer patient, I get asked quite often what is on my bucket list.

When Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson made the movie “The Bucket List,” I had to see it. I’m worn out with Jack Nicholson, but will go see anything with Morgan Freeman.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the two men are sitting atop an Egyptian pyramid and looking out over the desert.

Spectacular. Beautiful.

While Patti and I don’t talk about bucket lists often, or ever, she pulled one over on me a few weeks ago.

She made the following arrangements and surprised me with them. She managed for us to go to the Grand Canyon. Knowing how often I fall, even with my cane or walker … on a flat surface, for a fleeting moment, I thought this may be a life insurance ploy.

We flew to Flagstaff and took a cab to nearby Williams, Arizona. At Williams, people can take an old-fashioned train from Williams to the South Rim of the canyon. While on the train, people keep you entertained with skits and comedy, while you look at the spectacular scenery passing by you. Pine trees, wind farms, desert areas and mountainous areas. It was beautiful.

Once at the South Rim, as soon as we disembarked from the train, there were motor coaches within a few steps. Their purpose is to take people along the South Rim and make periodic stops at beautiful locations, for visitors to leave the bus, walk for a little and take marvelous pictures. All the while focusing on the safety of the customers.

On our day at the canyon, the weather was beautiful — loads of sunshine and periodic clouds. The rails along the paths are perilously close to the canyon cliffs. If someone were so inclined to step over the rail, to the cliff side, it would be a painful death. The trails were occasionally smooth and others were craggy and more of a challenge to someone like me who used either a cane of a walker.

Soaking up the beauty of the Grand Canyon

Soaking up the beauty of the Grand Canyon

At the first stop, Patti and I stepped out and walked to the rail. I lost it at the first stop. Teary-eyed like a new-born. Right in front of my eyes was a true miracle of nature that God had worked on since the beginning of time and, judging by the speed of the Colorado flowing rapidly beneath us, He was still at work.

The geographic layers of the exposed mesas and craggy rock formations were truly impressive. Did I want to hike to the bottom? No. Did I have a respect for those who did, or those riding the Colorado in boats? Yes, definitely. Did I enjoy the views from every stop?  Absolutely. They were beautiful and incomparable.

As we were enjoying the spectacular beauty, Patti and I soaked up just about every site that came our way. Funny thing, though. I never thought of this as a “bucket list” event. Not once.

Later that afternoon, we rode the train back to Williams, satisfied that we had been witnesses to such wonder and been affected by it.

While we were riding back to Williams, I silently began thinking while I was watching the landscape pass before us. I have had a full     life. I have seen loads of national parks, like Yellowstone, the Badlands, Carlsbad Caverns, Devils’s Tower, the Everglades, Pike’s Peak, Rockie Mountain National Park, Mt. Rushmore among others.

And, I am thankful for the opportunity to travel when I was younger. I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower; saw Napolean’s Tomb; climbed very partially up the Eiger in Switzerland; got high as a kite off grass in a park in Amsterdam; saw Jersey cows on Jersey island off the English coast; was overwhelmed visiting Le Mont St. Michel, an abbey in the ocean just off the French coast; loved viewing the Kon-Tiki in Oslo and taking the fjord-riddled train ride from Oslo to Bergen.

But when I think of “bucket lists now”, those images usually don’t appear much any more. But, every day that God gives me, I can wake up and see Patti smile, my “bucket list” is full … even overflowing.