Monday, October 15, 2012

One Less Item on My Bucket List

This weekend, I will get to check off an item on my “Bucket List.” I’m taking my family to a Notre Dame football game! It is no small feat getting five people to a game (with tickets) that is 900 miles away. I’ve been talking about it for years, with a definite ramp-up in frequency in the last year. Now I am really going! It is only happening with the help of my sister, Megan, in Chicago who is cramming us into her condo and with the help of my cousin, Will, in Chicago who bought the tickets through auction on my behalf. Plus some copious fare-watching from my end.

I’m not a Notre Dame fanatic, but a loyal fan with great appreciation for the time I spent and especially the friends I made there. Now it has become a bit of a magical place for me – a balance between disbelief and pride that I went there, wrapped in the warmth from the glow of memories that I am so grateful to have. For me, it is more than a place to see a great football game. It is the place where the person I have become was roughed out. It is where the beams were laid on the foundation my parents gave me. My appreciation for what I had there has definitely grown over the years and I felt I would have missed something great if I didn’t get a chance to take my kids there to experience game day and stroll the campus. This will also serve as a premature college tour for all three of them, since it is unlikely we will be back before the college years overtake us! As long as it doesn’t pour rain, I am hopeful for a lasting, positive impression that won’t matter what they would have talked about with an admissions counselor.

If there is one thing I have learned since graduating from Notre Dame, it is that it is never too early to start a list of things I want to do before I kick the bucket. And equally, do not wait to start checking things off of it. 

My bucket list is not very exotic nor is it adventuresome. For instance, I have no interest in jumping from a large helium balloon at 128,000 feet to break the sound barrier. My list is significantly tamer:

  • See a shooting star
  • Catch a view of the Northern Lights
  • Watch wild horses run
  • Take a sleigh ride
  • Learn to surf on a tropical shore
  • Take my family to see the Grand Canyon

So, all I really  need to do is visit northern Montana, book a surfing trip to Costa Rica and stop at the Grand Canyon in between!

I think my dad would have liked my list. Not because he had a bucket list – if he did, and I didn’t know about it, it probably just had one item: Be with Peg. He may have liked my list because he loved the outdoors, loved teaching us about what we saw and because he had such a grab-the-steering-wheel-and-go (or grab-an-oar-and-go!) attitude toward travel. This is his birth month and I think of him often as the leaves change and fall. I followed him to Notre Dame (I even lived in his exact dorm room my freshman year!) and I will be walking with him on campus this weekend. I will light a candle at the Grotto for my uncle, his brother and fellow-alum, for good health. And I hope I can teach my boys a thing or two about Notre Dame and setting goals, on my dad’s behalf.

And if you think Jack McCarthy has nothing to do with the current Irish winning streak, so his grandsons could see an undefeated team, think again!


  1. Made me tear up, again. I have only one item to add to your bucket list:: safari in Kenya.

  2. I teared up, too. I am so happy and proud that you pulled off this monumental logistical feat, Kath! And I am touched that you will be continuing your parents tradition of lighting a candle at the Grotto on each visit. Have a wonderful time! We'll be thinking of you and yours. Love, Aunt Kathy