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Palm Trees & Capris February 9, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Mindfulness, Writing & Writers.

Today’s WordPress prompt, Describe Your Dream Vacation, reminded me of this story ~ written just before we moved to Florida.

Writing about how I would spend my last 24 hours  inspired us to head to Florida for vacation that winter.  And our dream vacation inspired us to make permanent changes and create the life of our dreams.

Enjoy the journey . . . as the path unfolds before you, moment by moment.

* * * * *

Blurry-eyed, I sat down at my computer with a cup of coffee, noting the promise of another cloudy, wet, dreary, dismal winter day.  Ugh.

Before I jolted the computer awake, an e-mail flashed onto the screen:


You have only 24 hours to live.  Make the most of them!

See you soon, GOD

Shocked, but pleased to have 24 more hours, I ran down the hall, “BFF, call Habitat and tell them you have a family emergency ~ we’re going to  celebrate my last day on Earth!”

Startled, he looked at me, “What do you mean?”

“No time now.  I’ll fill you in on the way to the airport.”

Back in our bedroom, I grabbed a small carry-on and filled it with essentials.  Before closing the case, I tossed in a few extra items for BFF, in case he decided to extend his stay in paradise.

Five minutes later, I returned to the kitchen, “OK, let’s go!”

In denial, BFF stared at me.  I tapped my foot, “C’mon! Time’s a-wasting.  I’ll answer your questions in the car.”

Lifting Tigger to give him one last hug, I buried my face in his fur, inhaled his scent, and listened to him purr, “I’ll miss you, buddy.”

In the car, I relayed the exact wording of the e-mail.  BFF shook his head, “It’s got to be a prank.”

“I don’t see how.  My computer wasn’t even turned on.”

He looked over, “I don’t want you to die.”

“Of course, you don’t.  But I don’t think we have a vote in the matter.  So, let’s not waste time with frowns or tears.  If this is my last day, I want to spend it with a smile on my face.  Let’s talk more on the plane.  I’ve got something I want to do for you.”

I popped Petty in and blasted it:  Time to move on.  Time to get going.  What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing.  But under my feet, babe, grass is growing.  Time to move on.  Time to get going. 

With Petty playing and BFF driving, I jotted down account info, passwords,  cremation instructions, and then wrote BFF a letter to read . . . later.

At the airport, I booked two seats on a flight scheduled to land in Ft. Myers at 10:30 am.

Perfect!  We’ll make it to Captiva Island in time for lunch. 

At the gate, I checked the weather on Captiva ~ 80 degrees and sunshine!  Perfect!

Then, I called my parents and siblings.  Each wanted to resist the “what is.”

“Sorry, guys.  The what is, is.  You can shake your fist at the sky all you want, but you’ll never stop the rain.  Dry your tears, fly down to Ft. Myers, and join us for dinner on Captiva.  Our treat.”

After boarding, BFF and I chatted about past, present, and future.  Before long, we landed beneath glorious azure skies!

Crossing the causeway to Captiva, BFF slowed the rental car, captivated by  pelicans dive-bombing for lunch in turquoise seas, “This is great!”

At South Seas Plantation, I booked the Honeymoon Suite for us and five  rooms for my family ~ one for each couple and one for our nieces and nephews to share.  Then I asked about the evening’s entertainment.

“We have a Sunset Cruise at 4:30 this afternoon on the South Seas Sailfish ~ it accomodates up to 25 passengers.”

“Can we reserve the entire boat?”

Checking the log, and seeing no prior reservations, the desk clerk nodded, “As a private charter, you can adjust the departure time to suit you and your guests.”

Then, glancing at a Sun chart, she added, “Sunset is at 5:15.  It takes about 15 minutes to reach a good vantage point.  Do you want to sail at 5?”

“Probably.  Let me check back with you later.”

“Of course.  We generally offer a cash bar and assorted hors d’oeuvres to passengers, but we can serve whatever you want.  Any requests?”

“Hmm . . . definitely a case of Moet and Chandon White Star Extra Dry, and an open bar.”



“Assorted cheese and crackers, fresh pineapple and whatever else is in season, and a decadent chocolate fondue.”

Finally getting into the spirit of this final adventure, BFF added, “Lobster rolls.  Shrimp Newburg.  Crab Egg Rolls.”

Taking notes, the clerk nodded, “Anything else?”

“We’ll get back with you after lunch.  What about entertainment?  Would it be possible to have a guitar player on board?”

“Certainly.  We’ll be happy to arrange that for you.”

That settled, we stopped by our room with a view, changed into bathing suits, and headed back to the beach.

As we passed the front desk, the clerk called out, “We set up chairs and a cooler of assorted drinks for you.”


Outside, a guy in khaki shorts and a bright tropical shirt approached,  “I’m George.  I’ll be your Beach Butler this afternoon.”

“Excellent.  We’d love to have lunch on the beach.”

“What would you like?”

BFF grinned, “Pizza with peppers.”

I laughed, “That’s my boy.  I’ll have a lobster roll and french fries.”

“Wonderful.  Our lobsters are flown in fresh each morning.  Anything else?”

Taking a peak into the cooler, I shook my head, “Looks like we’re all set.”

After George left, we wandered down to water’s edge, holding hands, and watched the terns as they shied away from the waves.  Overhead, pelicans and gulls soared, looking for lunch.

I pointed down the beach, “Look!  Parasailing!”


Following my gaze, BFF said, “I’ve always wanted to try that.”

“No time like the present.”

“You got that right ~ there’s no time BUT the present!”

Aah . . . that’s better! 

What about you?  If you knew you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do?  Where would you go?  Who would you want to spent that time with?

Does thinking about how you would spend your last day cause you to question how you’ve been spending your time?

Related posts:  Laugh When You Can * Just Leap . . . And the Net Appears * Self-Fulfilling Prophecies * The Last Post: What If . . . Press On? (Mirth and Motivation)


1. Paula Tohline Calhoun - February 9, 2011

And the best part is that apparently you were able to cash in all your bonds, etc. to pay for that last day! In the best of all possible worlds…of course in the best of all possible worlds you wouldn’t have only 24 hours to live in it! 😀

Speaking personally, I’m glad you got to Florida, and didn’t die!

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

Nope, I got an advance on my life insurance policy! I didn’t want him having too much ready cash for gold diggers to come after. 8)

Playing the “last day/week/month/year on earth” game often helps us get passed our inner critic . . . so we can see what we really want out of life.

Once we know what we want, we can take determined action in the direction of our dreams.

For us, that meant a move. For others, it might mean a change in career, ending a toxic relationship, or finally making time for what matters.

2. granny1947 - February 9, 2011

What a delightful post.
I must say I agree with Paula…while i was reading it I was thinking …wow NR has loads of money.
My last day…hmmmmm…I must give this some thought!

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

That’s the nice thing about charge cards ~ you can use them to take an advance on your life insurance. 8)

And the nice thing about creative visualization and imagination ~ it’s FREE!

In real life, we spent much less on our 2 week winter vacation since we didn’t fly the whole family down, we drove, we cooked many of our meals, and we got a deal on a place to stay.

Enjoy the exercise, Granny. In uncertainty lies all possibility.

3. oldancestor - February 9, 2011

I stop at the supermarket and buy all my favorite junk foods that I never get to eat. Then I’d drive to the beach with my wife and son and my guitar (and a battery-powered amp. No accoustic guitars for this rock-n-roller) and play off into the sunset.

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

That sounds awesome . . . if the weather is cooperating, but when I played this last 24 hours game it was 35 degrees and sleeting outside. Ugh.

No way was I going to spend my last 24 hours on earth dealing with a Northeast Winter. I had no choice but to pack my sunglasses and head South! 8)

oldancestor - February 10, 2011

Somehow I assumed this would happen the last week in July or the first week in August.

I think I’d be pretty annoyed if I had 24 hours to live when it’s only 20 degrees outside.

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

You’re not alone.

Whenever I plan a vacation ~ the weather is always picture perfect. And yet when I arrive at my destination, I am often greeted by rain!

“They killed [Sunny]! Those bastards!” 😉

4. jannatwrites - February 9, 2011

I’d fly to Hawaii and go to a luau. Then, I’d go ziplining with my husband – probably on Maui. I think it would be fun, and he’s always wanted to do it, too. The problem is that I’m a big chicken, but if I only had 24-hours to live, I’d only have a few hours to lose if it didn’t go well 🙂

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

That’s the Spirit!

I’ve never been zip-lining, but I have been suspended 100-125 feet in the air in a harness on a challenge coarse. As soon as I pulled the rip cord, I screamed towards earth and then soared back and forth.

Quite exhilarating!

Chad - February 10, 2011

i remember that

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

Great fun, eh?

How high do you think the rope went? Is my estimate close? Or grossly exaggerated? 🙂

5. barb19 - February 9, 2011

Love it!

nrhatch - February 9, 2011

Thanks, Barb.

Hope you are having a Wonderful Wednesday (or a Terrific Thursday) depending upon your time zone.

6. Carol Ann Hoel - February 10, 2011

What an inspiring question! I can think of some things I do each day, or think about doing, that I wouldn’t bother about. Instead I would kiss and hug my husband, and call all my family and friends on the phone, and tell them I love them. After that I’d want to do something fun like going to a restaurant or walking in a park. Well, I guess that’s it. Time’s up! Blessings to you…

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

It sounds like you are already living life in accordance with your priorities.

We are too . . . NOW. If I played the “last 24 hours” game now, I’d just keep “tending my garden.”

Carol Ann Hoel - February 10, 2011

I didn’t think of my answer that way. After I posted it and read it over, I thought to myself, what an unimaginative 24 hours! Surely I could have thought of something better to do once my goodbyes were said. Blessings…

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

When asked what he would change if he only had 6 months to live, Robert Frost (or some other poet whose name escapes me) said: “I’d just keep tending my garden.”

Likewise, Isaac Asimov said: “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

Those quotes epitomize, to me, people who are living THEIR life on their terms. They don’t need to make adjustments so that life is a better fit. It’s already custom tailored.

Your answer parallels theirs, maybe your life already is a custom fit, filled with Peace and Contenment. 🙂

7. crazygoangirl - February 10, 2011

Sobering & intriguing thought that! I’m thinking I would spend it in London with my family and my BFF and her family. That’s my idea of a perfect way to spend my time…in a place I love surrounded by the people I love 🙂

But I must confess, on days when I’m feeling overwhelmed with Life in general, 24 hours of solitude, contemplation and meditation sound equally enticing!

I love that your posts always make me face up to stuff 🙂

Cheers, Harsha.

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

Thanks, Harsha!

My goal in writing SLTW is to provoke thought in visitors ~ I like tossing out the questions so that readers can consider which answers best fit their unique situation.

These days my life is a pretty good fit ~ a nice mix of living in a place I love with enough comraderie to balance out the self-imposed solitude of writing.

Thanks for visiting.

8. Tilly Bud - February 10, 2011

I really enjoyed this. Given the choice, I bet 99% of people would spend their last day with family.

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

Thanks, Tilly, but . . . I bet you’re wrong. 8)

I expect that many people (more than 1%) would finally find the courage to walk away from family members (who don’t accept them “as is”) and live the “rest of their life” on their own terms.

Families can be quite dysfunctional with everyone having to stay in their “assigned roles.” It’s very liberating to realize that we don’t have to confine ourselves to the prescribed box.

Cindy - February 10, 2011

“finally find the courage to walk away from family members (who don’t accept them “as is”) and live the “rest of their life” on their own terms.”
Hee hah!

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

Family Ties . . . that bind and gag. 🙂


9. flyinggma - February 10, 2011

Hubby and I are making plans as we speak for our own trip to Florida. I don’t know if we will be able to get any flying in on this trip. I have to check out the rental situation there.

I can’t wait to leave this bitterly cold weather behind even for a few days.

My folks took our entire extended family to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands for a dream vacation a few years ago. If I only had 24 hours I think I would try to go back there or the beautiful blue waters of Greece. Never been there but just love the color of the water with all the white buildings on the hillsides.

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

Yay! Planning vacations is fun. If you’re going to be close to Tampa, let me know. Maybe we can hook up for lunch.

Your last 24 hours sound ideal ~ WARM. When I realized how badly I wanted WARM for my remaining hours, it made me wonder why I still lived in the Northeast, winter after winter.

When I couldn’t find a good answer to that question, we decided to move. I feel as if I’m “home” for the first time in my life. It’s wonderful. There is no where else I’d rather be.

Although Greece does sound nice . . .

flyinggma - February 10, 2011

We will be flying into Tampa on the 20th and staying in the St.Petersburg area for a few days before we start driving back home. I’ll email when plans firm up a little more. I’d love to have lunch somewhere. Jeanne

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

There’s a fun restaurant on Clearwater Beach – the Rockaway Grill. We’ve only been once but would love to go back:


10. kateshrewsday - February 10, 2011

Great post, Nancy. Food for thought too. Write a day as though it were your last. And yours is so positive!

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

Thanks. I’m sure that moments of sadness would be interspersed with the joy ~ but I expect that I would not dissolve into a puddle of tears and spend 24 hours crying. 🙂

11. Carl D'Agostino - February 10, 2011

Florida? Yuk. Lived in Miami 55 of my 61 years. I think it is a third world garbage dump. I pondered your words and began thinking about the last 24 hours and thought it is not where that should be my concern but with whom?

nrhatch - February 10, 2011

I had the “whom” down pat, it was the “where” that made me unhappy ~ NorthEast Winters made me miserable.

I’ve never been to Miami, but we love living on the Gulf Coast. Best place we’ve ever lived, especially in the winter. 🙂

Now I’ve got the “whom,” the “where,” and the “what.” Just need to focus on the “how.”

12. Piglet in Portugal - February 12, 2011

Great post 🙂 Live for today!

nrhatch - February 12, 2011

Thanks, PiP!

We never know how long we have remaining. Seize the day!

13. judithhb - April 27, 2019

I missed this delightful post Nancy because I didn’t start blogging until March 2011. Well done for taking charge and making your dream into reality. No more grey skies for you and BFF only sunshine all the way.

nrhatch - April 27, 2019

Thanks, Judith! I haven’t read this post in years . . . I enjoyed the re-read. Oddly enough, BFF and I were talking this afternoon about possible changes on the horizon. Time will tell.

I need to swing by for a visit. It’s been a while.

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