I try to call my 95 year old mom pretty regularly. It’s getting harder and harder as 1. She has difficulty hearing 2. She has difficulty understanding 3. It’s getting more difficult to have a conversation at all as there is a lot of repeating. Each call makes me wonder how many more times will I have to hear her voice or visit her?
Mom knows that Glen and I are not home and when I remind her that we are in Brooklyn she says, “I don’t understand why anyone would want to go there.” Then she asks why we are here. I go through a very simple explanation…”We are just trying to experience new and different places.” And she responds. “I don’t know why anyone would want to go there.” Mind you, she’s never been here. Mom and Dad did a country-wide tour in their motorhome 25+ years ago and they skipped every big city except Washington D.C. So I try to describe one small experience that I think she will be able to fathom and then move on. Last night I described my walk along the East River.
Yesterday Glen was working so I headed out on my own to one of my favorite places – The Brooklyn Promenade. It’s a long walk along the river. I posted pictures of that walk in an earlier post. It had been a bit of a cool and blustery day. Today was an absolutely glorious day – perhaps the best weather we’ve had yet. I jumped on the subway (and when my exit station was closed I figured out how to reroute myself!) and headed to the water. I had enough time to meander, pausing for photos and sitting to enjoy the view in various places and to reflect on…things.
Just below the Brooklyn Bridge, I grabbed a chair to sit in and another to put my feet up on and I gazed out upon the river and the Manhattan skyline. Since we’re getting close to our departure date, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the last time I sat here and enjoyed this view. That got me to thinking about my calls with my mom and the “circle of life” as a metaphor for our time here in New York. (“The Lion King” – BEST movie ever!) I wonder when my parents started thinking…Will this be the last time we…see DC? enjoy a stay in our RV in the desert? hike with friends? When does one start thinking about “lasts”?
There are myriad little “lasts” and plenty of big ones in life. The big ones include visiting places far from home, holiday celebrations, family visits… The little ones include rituals and routines like Sunday family dinners, walks with friends and Dug, making morning coffee, baking lemon bread, watching a favorite sports team together…I think that for me, the melancholy I feel when thinking about “lasts” is the worry of not knowing it is the “last” and therefore not having the opportunity to hold it and enjoy it fully. Perhaps that concern provides a framework for thinking about all our days. Each day is an opportunity for “firsts” and may also hold a “last”. What a joy to have that opportunity every day – the excitement of a new experience and the appreciation and savoring of a final experience.
As far as our time in NYC and the “circle of life” metaphor… maybe I’ll just accept that every moment of this last week may be a “last” and I’ll just hold each experience for a moment, savor it, and know that it has been such a privilege and joy to be here with so many “firsts and lasts” and it’s an important part of life.