Sunday, April 22, 2012

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME?

It’s hard to identify “the last time” until it happens, and even then, you might not.  Have you found yourself trying to think back to when was the last time that..........?  It's probably something we think about at one time or another especially when we're yearning for some connection to the past.

Several weeks ago I was trying to put some rememinder to the last time I held each of my three sons in the rocking chair and sang them to sleep.  Those were some tremendously great memories.  Just me and them in the quiet of the nightime.......rocking back and forth.  What age did that end?  I can't be sure of the timing for any of my sons. They just disappeared.  Years later we graduated to things like throwing the ball in the backyard or playing a game of street basketball.  Those times are gone now too.  So I began wondering about all the many things we do in our lives that end, some very abruptly. 

What would be some of your favorite things to wax nostalgic?  Do you have some pictures or video to look back at to relive the moment?  I hope so because that sure can take you back to the moment with just about everything to the smells, the type of day and the emotion that went along with the special moment.  Those times might not have seemed so special then, but they do now. 


One for the memory banks

I ran across an article from a writer by the name of Stephanie Georgopulos which I think presents a very vivid picture.  "Last fall, my parents were preparing to move south.  My brother and I chose a Sunday to visit and figure out what we could unload before they sold the house: furniture, books, records.  After spending the day excavating the garage, we sat down for dinner at a table where we’d passed countless holidays as a family.  This was no holiday, though — both of my sisters were notably absent and the mood was more somber than celebratory.  We ate in silence until my dad pierced through our thoughts to give voice to what we’d all been thinking: “Whenever I do anything around the house lately, I can’t help but think it’s the last time.”

The last time can be imminent, sometimes, but it can also come when you least expect it.  All it takes is one phone call and suddenly you’re scrambling to recall the minutiae of five minutes ago — what was our last conversation and I hope we didn’t fight and did I say I love you?  Because I did, I do.  The last time can happen while you’re sound asleep, like you went to bed next to someone you loved and woke up to a stranger who’s saying something like “You should go,” or “Do you need to turn the light on to find your things,” and it sounds like he’s speaking a foreign language, like he’s talking in tongues and how does this happen?  Hours ago he was there, but he’s been replaced by a vacuous stare and a stale voice, a cold sack of bones and the last time has come and gone without your permission.  Had you seen it coming, maybe you would’ve done things differently. Maybe you wouldn’t have come over at all.

After dinner we talk about Pepper, the family dog.  She’s thirteen; too ill to survive a trip to Florida, too old to become someone else’s pet. “I think you should put her to sleep,” I tell my dad. She sits five feet away, dazed and joyless.  I suspect I’m unfamiliar to her now; she’s experiencing bursts of recognition but for the most part I’m a stranger.  I can tell by the way she growls.  My dad breaks his own silence with a sigh. “I’m glad you said that, thanks.”  And I know it’s genuine, that he needed to hear it from someone else, that he knows it’s the right thing to do.  We both kind of stare at nothing for a while, then I scratch behind Pepper’s ear for the last time and prepare for the ride home.

You can set an alarm, mark it on a calendar, tattoo it on your skin and still the last time doesn’t need your permission.  What you count on is that you have the power to end things, to label people ‘never again,’ to say farewell forever and mean it.  What you count on is having a choice.  But you don’t, and you’ll know that when you allow your heart to get broken again despite the protests you made and the caution you took; you’ll know that when you see The Ex at an airport bar even though you swore you’d never set eyes on her again.  You’ll know that when you look at a loved one’s funeral face and whisper goodbye and shut the door only for that person to haunt your dreams; for that ghost to find you in the one place where you can touch him, laugh with him outside the bounds of reality.

I hadn’t planned on it, but my brother and I took one last trip to my parent’s house before they locked the doors for good.  Everything looked the same as it did two weeks prior, except for the room where Pepper had been.  That room was empty, quiet.  And sure, I’d said my goodbyes already,  I’d pet her and comforted her and thought of it as our ending, our closure. I’d known, the last time I walked out of my parent’s front door, that I would never see her again.  But if I knew how quiet the house would be without her, how empty that room would feel, maybe I would’ve done things differently. Maybe I wouldn’t have come over at all."

I highly doubt that Stephanie.  You and I both know that.  Not only did you pay your respects, it was a way of honoring your parents for the time they made you a "home" with all its special memories.

And isn't that what the "last times" should mean to us?  Remember that the next time you feel like it's the last time.

YGG,

John   

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