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Bucket Full of Dreams
By Jane Hale
Remember when we were kids and wore our bathing suits to feed the horses so we could go swimming at the creek when we were finished?
Living on adjoining farms, you rode over to my farm to get away from a house full of sisters. I was an only child and happy to have a make-believe brother. You loved to draw. I loved to make up stories. Together we produced some children’s illustrated story books. Your oldest sister sent them to a publishing house. Our series “Bronco’s Bucket List,” written while we were horsing around, became a five-star winner on Amazon.
I close my eyes and see two kids lounging on the bank of the creek. You are wearing Mighty Mouse boxers. I’m sporting my pink teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini. We dreamed big dreams. We wrote our own bucket lists. I wonder what ever happened to the list?
In a happy-ever-after world, our relationship might have become more than make-believe brother and sister. In the real world my parents died in a plane crash on their way to my graduation from MSU with a degree in journalism.
Your family attended my parents’ funerals. You rode over to my farm later after everyone left. You helped me grieve as we visited the barn, now empty of horses and the door padlocked. We wandered down to the creek almost dried up from drought. We discussed our plans for the future. I’d been offered a job with a publishing house in Columbia. Your creativity in drawing evolved into a world of CAD software.
I gave a toast at your wedding reception which was held at my family farm I’d sold earlier to your oldest sister. My reference to Mighty Mouse was appreciated by your sisters and rewarded by a wink from you.
You gave a toast at my wedding including a remark about my pink teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini, causing my husband to give me a reproving look. Your sister saved the day by producing a bucket she’d painted pink with yellow polka dots, filled with wedding presents.
Each year we exchanged Christmas cards showing how our families grew as we each added children. Your card always included a drawing of Mighty Mouse. Our card contained a poem about a bikini.
The year my youngest left for college, my husband died of cancer. I fell into a stage of depression. Your sister invited me to stay with her on my family farm, now her home. The few weeks I spent with her were my salvation. I later returned the bucket she’d painted and given to me as a wedding present filled with thank-you gifts to her.
She shyly pulled out a folded piece of paper and handed it to me. “Read it, Grace.”
My eyes filled with tears as I reread our bucket list compiled as youngsters on the bank of the creek where we spent hours swimming and composing together. She’d underlined one of the items on the bucket list. It read: One day may we both be able to bring laughter to a world filled with harsh reality.
I sat with your family group a few years later when your wife passed away. You stayed with your brother who’d bought your parents’ farm.
I accepted your sister’s invitation to spend the weekend with her.
Years passed with each of us remaining single. Your sister kept each of us up-to-date on failing relationships.
One weekend I received an invitation to a family reunion your sister had organized at her farm.
It read: We always considered you family, Grace. I hope you’ll be able to attend. I’d like you to be my guest for the weekend.
I was not surprised to receive a note from you saying you were attending the reunion and hoped I’d be there too.
I was surprised to arrive and find you and me the only people attending besides your sister who had a smug self-satisfied look on her face. She said, “The others won’t arrive until tomorrow, but I’ve arranged a special treat for the two of you.” She handed you a blank drawing pad and pencils. To me she gave a blank notebook and pencil. “Why don’t you two wander down to the barn and on down to the creek? See if you can’t create something worth publishing.”
Happy to be together again, we headed toward the barn thinking we might find she’d bought a horse or two. Instead we found the old barn door still padlocked but with a pink bucket with yellow polka dots hanging on the door handle.
Looking inside we found a folded paper. It was our bucket list with the item underlined: One day may we both be able to bring laughter to a world filled with harsh reality.
Was that a hint of tears I saw in your eyes when you read it?
Laughter drifted over the creek filled with a summer of rain when you handed me the pad on which you’d drawn a middle-aged man with an exaggerated belly hanging over the waistband of his Mighty Mouse boxers.
You chuckled when I handed you my tablet on which I’d written: “There once was a young lady named Grace, who wore a yellow polka-dot bikini, pink with lace. When she jumped in to dunk, her bikini, it shrunk—a lot. Now, Grace is just one big yellow polka dot.”
As we walked back toward the farmhouse hand in hand, I thought of one of the other items on our bucket list: No matter what kind of weather, may we always be together, through thick and thin.
Please visit Jane on her page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ozarkwritersinc/