The term bucket list has become popular recently — you know that list of dreams you hope to accomplish before you kick the bucket.
Karen Roth Ridder has been part of a project looking at what Kansans have on their bucket lists.
Roth Ridder, a speaker for the Kansas Humanities Council Speakers Bureau, spoke at the LEAP Women’s Show Saturday at the McPherson Community Building.
Ridder, a freelance writer, wanted to know what on those lists will we really remember and relish as we come to the end of our lives. Ridder talked about her experience running a marathon.
“I trained and trained and I ran and I got to the end and crossed the finish line — 26 miles, and I got to the end and expected to feel really satisfied and it hurt. It hurt really badly, and I spent all that time. The question comes up: If I set aside my money and my time, is it going to be worth it?” she said.
She wrote a story for TK magazine in Topeka for which she asked Kansas residents who were 95 years and older what were the most memorable moments in their lives.
Their answers might surprise you.
Bill, 104, relishes all the time he spent golfing and fishing. He wrote his life story at 75, and it is now outdated. He still takes two hours of every day to write and meditate.
He reflected with this:
“Right now at my age, the time I still have to live, which is a very short time,” he said, “seems a great deal more than all the years I lived before. The times I have lived seem just a twinkling.”
Roth Ridder said the things her subjects have said were worth while were the things they had to take time to step out of their lives for. They were the things for which they had to take risks.
“Bucket lists — They are not so much about how much money you have or your station in life or where you live, but an attitude that life is worth living and worth dreaming about and that adventures can crop up in your own back yard,” she said.
Florence, 95, from Emmit, loved the water. She used to take children to swim at the local swimming hole several times a day when she was a child.
When she was in her 50s, she learned to water ski, which she continued to do until her mid-70s. She and her husband would take their Cobalt boat out to the lake almost every weekend in the summer and trick ski, Roth Ridder said.
Roth Ridder looked at research and found items on bucket lists generally fell into three categories — travel, health and money. Women were much more likely to be interested in travel, whereas men were much more concerned with remaining healthy. For both men and women who reached 70, money-related goals seemed to disappear from their bucket lists. When women were asked about their greatest personal accomplishment, many listed volunteer work. No men listed volunteer work.
Page 2 of 2 - Roth Ridder sought to find those life experiences that transcended statistics and could still be found on the edges of memory when our minds start to wind down.
“But what I think is interesting to talk about for a momet is what you do recall when you reach the point where recollection is difficult,” Roth Ridder said.
Virginia, 101, is that time of life in which her memory is starting to fade, Roth Ridder said. Virginia was a social worker and was engaged in research for the Menninger Clinic in Topeka. She was a very intelligent and accomplished woman.
Despite her accomplishments and many memories of family, Virginia most vividly recalled her response in a time of crisis.
The day before the 1966 Topeka tornado, Virginia had been out interviewing people door to door for a Menninger survey. She knocked on the door of a woman who very reluctantly let her into her home.
The day after the tornado, the woman saw Virginia at a relief center where Virgina was working. The woman was so relived to see a familiar face in the chaos, she came up to Virginia and hugged her.
“I barely heard of her children or grandchildren, but she remembered the way she interacted in a crisis,” Roth Ridder said.
Ridder ended with some final thought from Bill.
“Bill said ‘I don’t regret the risk taking, because I have talked to people who have never taken any risks, and they have had a dull, drum life.’ Bill said most people, and I believe him, don’t appreciate the length of life. ...” Roth Ridder said.
“He said at any stage he thinks what is most important is to think on the good things in life. His advice: Try to shut out those bad things and clear your mind. You can’t change the bad things that happen. We all have regrets. We can’t avoid that. You can shut it out of your mind.”