Last weekend, Mom kicked several items off her bucket list. One of them was attending a baby shower for her first great-grandchild who will be born in September. The second item on her list, a wish for her first great-grandchild to be born on Great-Grandma’s birthday (September 3), is in wait-and-see mode. It’s also in not-too-likely mode since Baby Philo’s projected due date is September 21.
But thanks to the efforts of her oldest daughter, also known as my big sister, Mom kicked two other items off her bucket list. She accomplished one of them on Saturday night when we took her to Jax Cafe in north Minneapolis so she could eat lobster for the first time.
She didn’t blink at the size of the lobster, perhaps because she knew both her sons-in-law were ready and willing to clean up what she couldn’t eat. She also didn’t blink at the size of her bill, easily the most she’s spent on a single meal in her life, perhaps because we warned her ahead of time. Nor did she balk about leaving a good tip for the waitress who patiently instructed her in the finer points of disassembling and eating the critter.
Her comment when the meal was done?
It was good, but I don’t think I’ll eat another one.
Hmmm….maybe she did blink a little at the size of the bill.
Then on Sunday, she kicked the final item off this weekend’s bucket list. She visited Kairong Liu, a very successful Chinese artist who lives and works in the Minneapolis area.
Mom and Kairong go way back. He was an international student who studied at Westmar College in Le Mars, Iowa during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Someone at the college called Mom and asked if she would tutor Kairong in English. She said yes, he came for his first lesson wearing a suit and tie to impress his new teacher, and Kairong became a fixture in our family for the next four years. Then he went off to graduate school at Vermillion, South Dakota, and we lost track of him.
Except that my sister, who lives in the Minneapolis area, saw his works exhibited in some area art shows over the years. So when Mom said she’d like to see her former student, Sis located him via the internet, and arranged Sunday’s visit.
I don’t know who was more delighted to see who, Mom or Kairong. He spent an hour showing her around his studio, where he stores and displays over 500 of his paintings. She learned about his family, and he caught up on hers. Then he took us to 98 Pounds, his favorite Twin Cities Chinese buffet. (It is also now our favorite Chinese buffet. If you’re ever in the Twin Cities, check it out!)
The buffet didn’t run out of food and we didn’t run out of conversation, but after 2 hours together, we did run out of time. Before saying our reluctant good-byes, Kairong presented Mom with a signed print of one of his landscapes.
Everybody else got a little teary.
When we took Mom back to my brother’s home, she handed him the poster and said, “Get this framed and decide where to hang it.” She didn’t blink when we told her it would be expensive. Instead, she shrugged and said, “Do it.”
My brother and I grinned, realizing Mom had crossed one more item off her bucket list. For the first time we could remember, she placed more value on a beautiful experience than on money.
“I’ll get right on it,” he said.
I got a little teary.
Life doesn’t get any better than this.