Some last moments are vivid in my memory. I can recall to this day, over 30 years later, the last time I spoke with my father. Actually, I remember two times, about three days apart. Our last conversation was innocuous – about tools he had built and about how he would remodel his living room after he “got better.” We both knew that likely wouldn’t happen, but both pretended it could. The last time he actually spoke to me, he said only one thing, “take care of your mother.”
The last time we had dinner with my mother was 12 years later. It had been her birthday weekend and I remember it as if it were yesterday. I made her favorite dish, ham with scalloped potatoes and apricot jello with pineapple. We gave her a red sweater and a costume jewelry amethyst ring. It was a great evening and we made plans to have dinner with her the following Wednesday. Unfortunately, one of our infamous Ohio ice storms cancelled that dinner. One night later, we got the call that she had passed away. It wasn’t unexpected and yet I was unprepared. I’m glad I can remember her birthday evening so well.
All too often, the last time for something happens and we don’t realize it for a long time. So long, that we might not recall in detail how or when the last time actually transpired. Such is the case with Matt’s folks. We had an established Sunday night routine with them for years. We’d share dinner and then share a couple of hours of euchre with them. These were always great evenings which we only missed when something else came up (work, illness, etc.). I can’t remember that last euchre game. I know it was in the spring or early summer of 2002, but at the time, I am sure it never occurred to me it would be our last Sunday night dinner and card game with them. That was the summer Matt’s dad passed away.
The same is true for my weekly jaunt to the grocery store with Matt’s mom. I took her almost every Saturday morning for seven years. I know the date of the last trip, because it was the day before she fell and broke her hip. I didn’t know that at the time, however, so I don’t remember the specifics. It was likely very ordinary and like any other Saturday. I just didn’t realize it would be the last time we’d ever go together.
I wish I could remember the details of the last time our son climbed into my lap for a cuddle. Or the last time I brushed the horse and how she felt. Or the last time the whole family was at the pool, before cancer and divorce stole some of our members. I guess that’s why all the psychology gurus talk about living in the moment and seizing the day. We just don’t know when the last time will be the last time.
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.