TICK tock. Time’s running out folks. While we’re all sitting here worrying about ebola and ISIS and what on earth the council has left to cut back on if it can’t even afford to paint white lines on kids’ football pitches, Father Time is checking his watch and putting a circle around your name.
Just how long each of us has is life’s great mystery. We plod along assuming three score years and ten is our natural entitlement, some might be lucky and get more, others considerably less.
How cruelly the rug can be ripped from under our feet was in evidence yesterday, when news emerged that actress Lynda Bellingham had passed away, wrapped in the loving arms of her husband.
Confronted with nauseating medication and feeling increasingly lousy, the 66-year-old actress accepted the inevitable, slapped on a brave face, stuck two fingers up to being poked, prodded and spending the remainder of her life driving around a hospital car park looking for a space, and with dignity accepted what was ahead.
Her big “bucket list” hope – sadly not to be – had been to enjoy a final Christmas with her family. Not to cartwheel along the Great Wall of China or sky dive naked or climb Everest with Brad Pitt, but to sit down on Christmas morning in her dressing gown and baffies, tree lights on, wrapping paper everywhere, a family argument brewing in the background over who forgot to buy stock cubes for the turkey gravy.
Recently 2000 Brits were asked what would be on their bucket list – the ultimate “to do” list before the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking.
Their answers ranged from writing a novel to travelling the globe – the Maldives featured highly, as did owning a holiday home abroad. Others dreamed of swimming with dolphins, climbing a mountain and visiting Las Vegas. Thrilling adventures which, if you haven’t ticked off the list while you’re fit, healthy and financially pretty secure then you’re definitely not going to manage when you’re coughing up your guts, rattling with medication, skint because you can’t work and feeling like you’ve been hit by a tram. That aside, the travel insurance costs alone would probably finish you off.
No, bucket list dreams of adrenaline rushes, laugh in the face of death, gung-ho escapades are for the fit and healthy to savour well in advance of the trip to the doctor’s surgery to discuss palliative care.
When the end is near, it’s the simple pleasures – like Lynda Bellingham’s dream of a last Christmas morning together – that really matter.