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You know my bucket list will be heavy on the Civil War

  • Written by Don C. White

History-Don-White-logoI don’t think it is too late to begin working on my bucket list.
I believe it is a very appropriate time, especially after my open heart surgery at age 76 late last year. How many of you saw the movie, “The Bucket List”? It stars Jack Nicholson, a very rich guy, and Morgan Freeman, an average guy, who share a hospital room; in a hospital owned by Jack Nicholson.
Needless to say he wasn’t too happy about sharing a room with anyone, but that was the hospital policy.
And he set the policy.
In the movie, the Nicholson character was so rich he could afford to go anywhere and do anything. So after he and the Morgan Freeman character bonded somewhat, they decided to go to work on their bucket lists.
Well, my bucket list does not include anything near what they did in the movie; such as sky diving, traveling to the Great Pyramid of Khufu or racing cars. Needless to say I don’t have the money to try any of those adventures.
That doesn’t make me mad or jealous of those who do.
It does make me understand that what I have on my bucket list still may not be 100 percent attainable, but again, that’s okay with me. Throughout my life, I have never given much thought to a bucket list. My wife, Helen and my sons, D.J. and David and now my grandchildren, Athena,
Nikola and Samuel have just done things as the opportunity came along. And for the most part,
I think we have had some good times and made some good memories. I hope they feel the same way.
As for my list, I don’t even really have to leave the good old U.S. of A. to accomplish it.
Of course many items on my list will include things related to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.
That should be no surprise.
The list is not necessarily in order of how I want to accomplish them. Beggars cant’ be choosers and, as with many of you, it would require the winning lottery numbers for one of the really big jackpots. Oh! The other thing is I have been told you have to buy tickets on a somewhat regular basis to have a chance to win.
The following is my list and it will be subject to change as I grow older and may be less able to complete it.
•Spend many more years with my wife.
•Be here to watch my grandchildren grow into adults.
•Take a trip to Disney World with my wife, sons and their families – my treat.
•Take another trip to Washington, D.C. – including a visit to the White House and talk with a president, visit Ford’s Theatre and as many of the other sites as I have time for.
•Visit a few Civil War battlefields with my grandchildren.
•Write a book of historical fiction about my great-great-grandfather who served in the Civil War.
•Take a cruise down the Mississippi River on a paddle-wheeler and see as many Civil War cities and sites as possible.
•Attend my 60th reunion at Limestone Community High School bear Peoria in 2016.
•Have time to check my family history to see if any other grandparents fought in the Civil War.
•Take a trip to Salzburg, Austria. (I know – I said that I would not have to leave the country to fulfill my list – but this is the one exception.)
I have been given more time on this earth for whatever reason. Many of us don’t know for sure what our purpose in life really is. After my heart surgery last year, I truly believe that there is a reason I was given more time and I want to use it to fulfill that purpose. (Of course, being there to watch Samuel grow up is one.) No, I am not waiting for a sign from above or to be struck by lightning – I will just take it one day at a time and try to do my very best for humankind and see where it leads me.
As an aside, besides all of the cards, calls and well-wishes I received during my heart adventure, I want to thank all of the customers at Ace Hardware who said they read the article in the Reporter. It was wonderful to talk with you and especially those who shared their stories of heart surgeries.

Don C. White is a local historian from Palos Hills who has written a book on the Civil War.