Ever since the passing of my mother over a week ago, I have been trying to focus on what are the most important things which might occupy the bucket list for my father who is seeing the world different without his life companion. Naturally, when you think of the movie THE BUCKET LIST we can all remember Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman joining forces to travel the globe, see the world, experience life and throw "caution to the wind" on values and more. There were both good and bad lessons from this movie.
Even the mention of the "bucket list" almost gives everyone a "pass" to do something they have never done, to allow themselves to even "sin" if they want to, with no ramifications. After all, He does forgive all right? Yes, but this kind of spirit and attitude is so very dangerous. When I saw the movie about someone's last moments here on earth, I didn't focus on the wishes of the two main characters but got more lost in my own world, my own desires and even dreams.
So it was pretty easy for me to ask Dad, "Hey what are your dreams for your future and what would you really love to do above all else? Now that your life is a new normal, lets talk about travel, world impact and more?" My father listened intently about all of the things he was dreaming, had dreamed and wanted to share with me, his only son. His response was not what I expected.
Dad said, "Ok I know what I want to do first, are you ready?" My father had a sheepish grin on his face, but I knew he was going to say something big and I wanted to try and make it happen. How could I do this? Needless to say I was somewhat nervous. Sure I knew it might cost us, but it might even be worth it to see my father smile again. If I had to go to the bank, I even considered taking out a small loan based on the size of the dream.
Let me give you my personal bucket list son, he said.
I would like to go to the public golf course here in Oklahoma City, Hefner Golf Club and have breakfast with just you and me. Its something I've always wanted to do.
Can you let that sink in for just a moment...
My father didn't mention some international destination, meeting a celebrity or even seeing one of the great wonders of the world, but a simple meal at a public golf place I attended as a child. Why would he have this on his list and what was so special about breakfast, normally the most inexpensive meal of the day?
Do you have any other ideas Dad? I asked somewhat confused.
"I sure do son as I have been thinking about this and they all get bigger...."
I would like to go about an hour from here to Byars Oklahoma again with you, just like we did last year to visit the McAfee graves, see where my mother's family was, the Griffin family and then hang out around my birthplace and find some cousins to have barbecue. Byars is located in South Central Oklahoma and is a town of less than five hundred. There are more cows than people there.
Dad then told me his really big idea. Then I would like to drive to Wisconsin and see my cousin Glen, because I haven't seen him and we grew up together. Wouldn't it be great to be with him again?
Plus, I have dreams of going to lunch with my friends, being with the Wright Brothers and going fishing, going to go feed the animals, being with small children and even taking Michael and Lauren to the airport when they travel, just like I do with you! Doesn't that sound great? He could not have been more purposeful and sincere.
Treasures which my father had been "laying up" were all about being with our family, spending time with my sons for meals, talking to relatives, close friends he missed and going to places where his heart would be found. Everything I had imagined thinking about my Dad's bucket list was a reverent, sacred and holy connecting point of personal love.
Tears rolled down my face as he talked about it because we reflected on how much we would have loved to have had mother come with us.
He wanted to hear our girls sing in the backyard in Franklin, Tennessee. He wanted to be with our family. Never in my life have I been more proud to be a son of this great man. He reminded me why living in a kleenex box of a house with people you love is more important than any home on earth. It didn't matter some exotic destination, fancy car or anything else people see as treasures, there was something out there...greater.
His bucket list was to talk to his grandchildren about the Lord and share with them about the "world's greatest preacher" Reverend Jack Thompson. He wants to spend time with all of them.
He reminded me that every person on the planet should have one preacher who is the "Worlds greatest preacher" to them. Deep within me, my heart smiled and I remembered why pastors mean so much to my life, it was because of my father's legacy, respect and admiration for men and women who share God's love with others.
Guess what....my bucket list changed today.
Being with my Dad allowed me to see things differently. God is the same way, when you spend time with Him, you become a better person.
Truly, I became a better man after the pancakes Dad and I shared this morning and the greasy sausage. As we sat at the table, I saw an old and dear friend walk by, Herb Bradshaw who came over and he talked about spending time with his grandchild and how special it was. He was sharing another childhood dream. We talked about church and the memories we had at Council Road and what sweet moments we all shared together. Priceless moments!
Real treasures are with people we love. Even this morning I had prayed for an unspoken prayer request of someone I love in our family and God was gracious in answering this prayer. Moments like these reminded me of all the treasures in life, including Dad's bucket list. I don't know what you have listed for your dreams and it certainly isn't bad to dream of something great, wonderful and even magnificent. However, the best dreams and best times can happen when you have breakfast with someone you love.
God is waiting to talk to you, when you invest in Him you will be a better person, you will see your destination differently and you will walk with Him more closely.
I love you,
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.