My father and my bucket list

22 Feb


I don’t remember where I first learned of the concept of a bucket list, but I started one many years ago. My bucket list is called 100 things I want to do before I turned 100. (any guesses on the first item on my list?) There’s a wide assortment of things on the list – some I have accomplished like visiting all 50 states, catching an Alaskan King Salmon, and dining with a U.S. President. There’s a lot on the list I haven’t accomplished – delivering a college commencement address, giving a jazz piano concert, and learning how to kite surf. Though I have been a professional speaker for nearly half my life, it was item # 17 (perform stand-up at a comedy club, that frightened me the most. I have no illusions about becoming the next Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Foxworthy, or Brian Reagan. I thought performing standup would be a lot of fun – a great way to stretch myself, and provide new insights into my speaking. Several of my National Speakers Association colleagues told me that doing standup comedy created more extemporaneous humor in their speaking.

A few years ago, I noticed an ad in the paper for open mic night at Side Splitters, a local comedy club. I clipped the ad and put it on a bulletin board below the shelf that housed my bucket list book. I thought that having it visible MIGHT inspire me to take action. As time passed, the advertisement began to yellow and curl at the edges. Other more pressing items were tacked to the board almost covering the Side Splitters ad.

Several months later, I received the call that so many of us dread. My father had terminal cancer. Much of that week was a blur. One day, about a week after I heard the news, I opened my bucket list book and read item #33: take dad to the Final Four. Dad loved basketball, particularly the Duke Blue Devils. Over the years, dad recounted many of his favorite Duke basketball games. His amazing brain held an encyclopedia of facts including names of players, their jersey number, and how many points they scored in big games from many years past. It was ironic that his once keen memory now was impeded by a tumor on his brain. Weeks of discouraging news about my father’s decline, affected me greatly. I couldn’t get the Final Four goal out of my mind. It just wasn’t going to happen. During one of these reflective moments, I noticed the stand-up comedy night ad I had saved. Dad’s short life span made me realize the importance of acting with urgency on important things. I decided that I needed to let go of my fear and quit saying I’ll do it “someday”. At that moment, I called the club and booked the next available open mic night. A few weeks later, in front of a crowd of mostly strangers, I walked on stage for my standup comedy debut. It was my own tribute to my father, a man with a great love of the spoken word and an avid joke teller. Today marks the 2nd anniversary of his death, a good reminder to review and act on another bucket list item. How about you? Do you have a goal or a bucket list that is waiting for action? I believe that there is no SOMEDAY like TODAY. After all, life changes not when you begin to act but when you commit to act. Also, your action may inspire someone else. Please share something from your bucket list in the COMMENTS section below.

Note: While I didn’t make it to the Final Four with my dad, I was able to take my dad to a Duke football game three months before he died. He hadn’t been to a game since he attended Duke in the 1950’s.

Tim Richardson has been speaking professionally since 1988. He works with organizations to help them create a create a RICH work environment. To learn more, please visit

6 Responses to “My father and my bucket list”

  1. Saras Nara February 24, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    Nicely said, Tim….thank you.

  2. timdrichardson February 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Thanks. Saras for your feedback!

  3. Brad Rasmussen February 28, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    So I guess the was the ultimate set up after the conversation we had the other day! I will have to invite you to my debut! Thanks for your enthusiasm for life and for your urging to take nothing for granted!….Brad

  4. Sylvestre Kisite February 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    Really nicely,educative and thoughtful speaking. A lot of thanks Tim.

  5. Karen Gutenkauf March 6, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    Tim- you have always inspired me and continue to amaze me with your thoughtfulness and determination! Thanks for being such a terrific motivator! I will be pulling that dusty Bucket list out for a review!

    • timdrichardson March 6, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

      Thanks, Karen! I appreciate your input and comment. Let me know about the bucket list review!

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