The Year of the Bucket List


by Kathy Megyeri


We’re off to a New Year with good intentions and even better resolutions. Since I’m getting my own affairs in order with writing a living will, making an effort to downsize, and formulating some estate planning, I also wanted to round out my bucket list for the year 2017. I’d already decided that my funeral (God forbid it should be immediately after I finish this article), would be one of the biggest bashes the Venice Community Center would ever host and it would be free of charge to all those business owners and residents who have made my life so enjoyable during my time here. I would like what I consider the best Elvis impersonator on the East Coast, Jesse Garron from Delaware, with his outstanding band and back-up singers, to be flown down for a night of sheer joy and celebration in Venice. Since I’ve attended so many of his concerts and once wrote an article about him that was so well received, I think it only fitting that others share in the joy he’s brought to me. In keeping with the theme of New Year’s resolutions and bucket lists, I asked others to share theirs, and the results, I think, will not only surprise readers but delight many with their sincerity, thoughtfulness and introspection.

To showcase responses from a random sampling of people, I sat on a park bench in downtown Venice, FL where I live and quizzed passers-by. Admittedly, none were non-white, speakers of other languages, or tourists from overseas. Some were shopkeepers, others were Venice residents, and the rest were US tourists. Some wanted their photos taken in their shops, others said they would email me their favorite photos, and some declined to talk or have their photos taken. To make some sense of their replies, I broke their responses into three categories. Some shared personal wishes which usually included a desire for good health; some showed concern for all of mankind, and the third group concentrated on a planned trip or adventure but the most delightful response came from a certified therapy dog with words supplied and translated by her owner. The biggest surprise was uttered by a satisfied male who had already filled his bucket list.

A. Personal Wishes

Fittingly, Tom Schanley from Virginia and also Cape Coral, owner of a 32 foot Sea Ray Sundancer named the “Bucket List” says he doesn’t ever want his boat to sink and he also wants his clothing to be made with 90 percent stretchable material.

Joe Battagia, museum volunteer from Punta Gorda: “I wish for more time on earth and to own a house in South Beach, Miami because there, it’s really party time 24/7.”

Michelle Mills, clerk at a souvenir shop in Punta Gorda’s Fishermen”s Village, was visiting Venice on her day off. She said, “Getting a home in Punta Gorda is my wish. We were wiped out by Hurricane Charley in 2004 and lost everything. FEMA was a disappointment, but when the local newspaper showed the devastation my family suffered, people responded and my two girls even got Christmas presents. I’ve been in Punta Gorda since fifth grade and I love it there. It’s calmer and quieter than most beach communities and since I was raised by my grandmother, I appreciate the wisdom and caring of elders so I love the older people who stop by my kiosk, chat, and buy a souvenir of their stay. Maybe this year, I’ll have enough saved for that house.”

In 1987, Florida passed the first concealed weapons law in the nation, which was then copied by forty other states. The law even allows employees to bring their guns to work. Thus it was not a surprise to hear from tourist Cheri Fretheim from Minnesota: “My biggest concern is to get my conceal and carry, we’ve seen such a rise in crime in our little community that it has stopped me from going to the bank alone in the dark. I want the ability to carry my gun wherever I go.”

Joe Kelly from Cape Coral: “I want to catch the biggest fish, shoot the biggest buck and retire with dignity. Of the three, the last may be the hardest. The first two I can pursue until my wife says to come home. I am really looking forward to my retirement.”

Carl Bauer from Venice: “I want to do everything possible to remain at least mentally and physically integrated as I now am. Got a cruise planned for February on the fabulous Oasis Royal Caribbean. That’s a first step.”

Les Megyeri from Washington, DC and Venice: “I want to learn French, spend a season in Aspen skiing every day and following my upcoming cataract surgery, to again land an airplane without a prop strike.”

Lionel Ives, a Merrill Lynch broker from MD: “My goal is to play golf on the Emerald Isle, Ireland, and nationally, I plea for an end to Daylight Savings Time – just set it and forget it. There’s no need to have mandated jet lag every six months. I have not seen any proof it does any good, but I have seen proof that there’s an increase in pedestrian fatalities shortly after the time changes in November.”

Karla George from Venice: “I want to keep in touch with people and tell them how much I care – that’s important.”

Laurie Sherwood, owner of the Palm Hair Salon in Venice: “I want to treat everyday as my last because no one can keep me from smiling. Too many people are unhappy, especially after this last election, and I want to bring them more happiness.”

Carole Storozynsky, hair dresser at the Palm Hair Salon: “I want to work for the next five years because it keeps me young and healthy and I love my boss Laurie. I’ve been here fifteen years and they treat me so nice. We’re like family here and enjoy each other so much – all four of us.”

Barbara Rogoff from Palm Beach: “I am looking forward to 2017 and getting my priorities in order. As I get older, I realize I need more time for ME and also to really take each day as a blessing and make the most of it.”

B. Travel plans:

Julie Bauer, Sacramento, CA: “I want to fly first class to Europe, preferably Paris. That would be new for me. I also want to visit my ancestors in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.”

Tina Holmes, manager at MRT Landscaping, and her husband, Larry, from Venice: “This summer we are going for two months to Alaska in our R-pod camper pulled by our truck. It has been my lifelong dream to stop at the National Parks and go hiking in the Denali in Alaska.”

David Johe, MD from St. Mary’s, PA: “There’s just one trip I have left to take. I want to travel from Florida to San Francisco through the Panama Canal.”

Roslyn Johe and her mother from Ft. Pierce, FL are looking forward to a cruise down the Danube together. “We have wanted to go on a river cruise vs. an ocean cruise for years but my stepdad was not well enough to go for so long. My mom and I are extremely close and think alike so we both agreed that this Viking cruise was for us and then she asked her sister-in-law to go as well. It will be memorable and a time to share together with family.”

C. Concern for Others:

Jan Haycraft, clerk at Cabella’s from Minnesota: “One thing I want to accomplish this year is to do more random acts of kindness for others than I did last year. Also winning the lottery would be good so that I could become a philanthropist.”

Thanks to everyone who submitted their bucket list wishes – we will share pictures and more wishes next time….