Personal Best: Working my way through the bucket list

Pat Black is happy to have the opportunity to do the things she's always dreamed of and has committed to making them happen

Thanks to the movies and TV, most of us know what a bucket list is. For those that don’t it is that list of things we want to do before we kick the bucket.

I have been knocking off things on my bucket list this spring and summer and while on one level this is intensely gratifying it hasn’t been easy. I guess as we age we become more comfortable with the known and familiar things in life and value the security and comfort that familiarity brings. After all, most of us have learned from life experiences that there are enough unexpected and unwanted crises that arise regularly to challenge us on our life paths that we value the safety of sameness. Even making a bucket list requires stepping out of our ordinary, everyday existence and looking at new possibilities even if we never expect to accomplish anything on that list. But complacency is also boring and I believe adventures are good for the soul. I think stepping out of the box from time to time keeps us mentally alert and gives great satisfaction to our human spirit.

One major thing on my bucket list was to return to my birth province, Ontario, and revisit places that hold special meaning to me while giving me extended time with my eastern family rather than the mad dash from one to the other that occurs on short visits. Getting from the list to making this happen was not easy. You gotta have a plan! My plan took a year of preparation and a lot of help from my friends and family and yet I was truly surprised when it all came into place and my eastern adventure began.

I have visited many of the people and places I wanted to see and have done many of the things on my list but there have been challenges. Adjusting to new ways of doing things, new interactions and expectations of hosts, new experiences such as pummelling down the great super highways around Toronto where hesitation means death or using a GPS to find a destination, all new to me and sometimes disquieting and causing anxiety. You have to expect that on any adventure, I guess, and perhaps that is the right reason to embark on your bucket list. In the end it is learning all about our capacities and capabilities even if we are not in our comfort zone.

Hey, another good thing happened for seniors when the Ministry of Health changed their policy about paying only for hard lenses when cataract surgery is required. In the past only hard lenses were covered under the Medical Services Plan and if the newer and more effective commonly- called soft lenses (foldable monofocal intraocular lenses) were prescribed, the senior had to pay for them out of their own pocket, sometimes causing great hardship as the cost could amount to up to $500 per lens. This new policy change came into effect June 4, 2012 and the most commonly selected type of replacement lens, the soft lens, will now be provided at no charge to the patient by the health authority. Also health authorities will now manage the supply of all lenses. If a cataract patient wishes to purchase specialty lenses they will do so directly from their health authority at standardized prices. This new policy change is a godsend to those of us that need this operation and reflects the power of seniors lobbying for change as many advocates and senior associations have finally convinced the Ministry to review the situation and bring in this new change.

If you have any comments or questions e-mail me at

Pat Black writes about issues important to seniors, appearing every other Sunday in The Morning Star.