This Could Be the Last Time
“Well this could be the last time
This could be the last time
Maybe the last time
I don’t know…” (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards “The Last Time”)
It was the 49th anniversary of my grandfather’s death yesterday. It hardly seems that long – there’s rarely a day that passes when I don’t think of him. You know, thinking back, I can’t remember the last words I said to him or the last words he said to me, but I do remember I made him pancakes the night he died. He had not been eating well and he said pancakes sounded good. I made him some pancakes, but he hardly touched them.
Later that evening – and it seems to me it was around 6:30 – went in to take a bath and collapsed on the floor. I didn’t know as he walked away to the bathroom that it was the last time I’d ever see him alive. The next time I saw him he was dead and my world was never the same again.
It crossed my mind yesterday, that I’ve lived twice as long without him in my life as I did with him in my life- that is if you count the number of days he was physically in this world. But he’s been with me every day, every one of those 17,898 days since that day he walked into the bathroom to take a bath and died before he ever could.
We live each day as if we have unlimited days, but we all know that’s not true. I don’t remember the last words I said to my grandkids the last time I saw them. I don’t remember the last words I said to my kids the last time we talked.
I don’t remember what I said to my best friend David the last time we talked. But I know now it was the last time we’ll ever talk. David passed away last autumn.
We talk to our family and friends and assume that we’ll talk again. But not a single one of us knows if we will. The next time I talk to my best friend or my kids or my grandkids, it may be the last time, I don’t know.
Many times in my life I’ve thought about this. I had grand plans to make lifestyle changes and try more earnestly to savor every moment with my kids and grandkids. And most of all to never take another treasured moment of my life for granted.
It’s funny – meaning strange – we have a cavalier attitude toward life. Well, most of us do anyway. If we are retired and have $50,000 in the bank, we don’t want to waste it, we only spend what we feel is necessary to spend it on. Isn’t it funny the things we treasure most sometimes are things that mean the least? A day in my life is worth more than all the money and material things I have. But I sure don’t treat each day that way. How much do you think the richest man on this earth would pay to live one more day? One more week? One more year? I think he’d give his entire fortune to live for just one more day.
I know how much money I have – or don’t have – and so do you, but not a single one of us know how many days we have left in the Grand Bank of Life. But we spend our days much more carelessly than we spend our money.
This morning I woke up, took a shower, brushed my teeth, and had a cup of coffee before sitting down at the computer for another day of work. But not once while I was taking a shower did I think…” this could be the last time I ever take a shower”… or brush my teeth… or drink a cup of coffee… or sit down at my computer.
I took a walk in the snow tonight and sang “Winter Wonderland” as I walked. No one was there to hear me -thank Heaven! As I walked along with snowflakes hitting me in the face I never once thought …”This could be the last time…” I ever take a walk in the snow.
And by now you’re probably thinking this is meandering into a morose, melancholy, morbid piece, but please don’t stop reading. You’ll see, there’s more to these words than the melancholia they seem to portray. Something is gleaming and glowing and beautiful buried within… and if you bear with me, you’ll soon see.
The older you get the harder it is not to become jaded… but the world is still a very beautiful place and there are still a lot of good people in it. And while it may seem that money means more than it should, the richest and most powerful now stalking our planet would gladly give up their fortunes and their power to live another day, another week, another year. They’d gladly give it all up to spend another Christmas with their loved ones.
And for those of us who think we don’t have a lot, we have a lot more than we think. We have this minute, this moment, this hour, this day to cherish. We will never know when we’re doing something if it’s the last time we’ll ever do it. And this is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, If we cherish the moment, the hour, the day, we’ll never waste it.
Most of us will never know when we are doing something for the last time. It may not be important that we think about this when we’re washing the car, mowing the lawn, reading a book, eating breakfast… but it is when we are spending time with those we love. For we never know if this may be the last time we ever have the chance to share time with them.
If we remember that the days of our lives are numbered, and most of us will run out of days when we least expect it, then we’ll make the time we spend with those we love and who love us matter. We’ll try never to leave things unsaid or undone. We’ll always make sure our last words to those we love are good ones, even if we won’t remember what they were.
This could be the last time I sit down and write an essay. This could be the last time you read an essay. That’s not a bad thing at all – it’s a good thing. But it’s only a good thing only if it helps remind us to cherish the minutes, the hours, the days we have left and to remember that the most important thing we leave behind isn’t money or things, it’s the good memories we leave behind to those who love us.
This could be the last time… I don’t know.