The day Gram showed me her list, I was the only one home to see the note on the counter that read, “Meet at Hank’s for breakfast, 12:00?” It was already 11:30, so I quickly got ready and walked the short distance to our favorite diner on the boardwalk. Gram was already waiting at our favorite booth, fumbling with the purple bandana she wore on her head when it was too hot to rock a wig. She started talking the minute she saw me in the door, which meant by the time I slid into my side of the booth she was already mid-conversation.
“—thought you weren’t gonna make it, Meggy. You really should try and wake up a little earlier you know. Half of your sun time is already gone for the day! But no. worries, at least you made it in time. I already ordered your breakfast and if you didn’t show up, I would have to eat it all myself. Can you just picture Dr. Gray’s face if I told him I had not one, but two servings of cinnamon roll French toast? Hah!”
Before I had a chance to respond, she started rummaging through her purse and eventually came out with a few sheets of paper clipped together. I could tell by the look on her face that the conversation was about to get serious.
“Now Meghan,” she said to me, “People in our family have this annoying habit of dying young, and it looks like I’m gonna be one of them.” She paused here and took a bite of her breakfast, taking the time to find the perfect words before speaking again. Grandma rarely minced her words, so this must be a very important topic to her.
As she was thinking I looked down at my plate and thought of my Pappy who we lost a almost ten years ago, and the rest of Grandma’s brothers and sisters who passed before I was even born. When I glanced up I caught Gram grimacing in pain the way she only did when she thought we weren’t looking.
“As much as you and I hate to admit it, it’s the truth,” she continued. “Ever since your Pappy died I vowed that I was going to make the most of however many years I had left. She unclipped the papers she had taken from her purse and spread them out on the table. I looked down and saw of list of 100 things, neatly numbered in Gram’s precise handwriting.
“This is the list I made of all the things I planned on doing before I died, and I’ve been slowly crossing things off ever since.” She handed the list over to me, and as she was talking I started scanning the items.
“Grandma! Why is ‘dancing on a bar’ already crossed off? Does that say skinny dipping? Jesus Christ, Gram!” I look across the table at her, my shock clearly evident on my face. Who IS this woman?
“Don’t swear, Meg,” she scolds but her smile revealed that she was partially enjoying my response, “just because I’m old doesn’t mean that I forgot how to have fun!”