The last time
We have a new firehouse now in our neighborhood in Arlington. In the old one, there were monthly bingo nights. At one such night I noticed a young woman, still a girl, really, who was tending to several small children. What I noticed was that she was still able to roll and tumble on the floor with joyous youthful abandon with her smaller charges. And the thought came to me as I watched her, “You might be doing this for the last time, and you don’t even know it.” For she seemed to me to be right on the cusp of that transition to one of the slightly older but still young other women sitting at tables, conversing.
We often, maybe, always know when we are doing something for the first time. But we seldom know when we are doing something for the last time. I used to run track in high school and college, 880’s mainly. One day I ran an 880, but never did again. I didn’t know that that last time was the last time. I still have a road bike that I bought in 1974 and put many miles on, leading rides for the Potomac Pedalers and commuting to work at the Senate from home in Arlington to Capitol Hill. I haven’t ridden in a few years now, mainly because my sense of balance has become a sometime thing. But I don’t remember the last time I rode, and I sure didn’t realize at the time that it was the last time.
The past few months have been special in the sense that I have been able to recognize and appreciate some ‘last times,’ such as the last time on a Palm Sunday to teach some acolytes about lighting incense and handling a thurible; the last time setting up the seven foot cross in the narthex on Good Friday; the last time to be at the top of a 32 foot ladder changing light bulbs high in the transepts and chancel; the last time to order pizza for the monthly vestry meeting.; the last lighting of the new fire at Easter Vigil; and the last time to write a Daily Cup It’s not as if these awarenesses were bitter sweet, not at all, just heightened awareness and appreciation.
As I look forward to growing older still, I can foresee some specific “last time,” such as the last time to drive a car, should I be so lucky as to give it up gracefully before I lose control some day and hurt someone. I’ll be paying attention, trying to recognize them as they occur.
It’s been a wonderful 16 years at St. Albans. Thanks for inviting me; I had a wonderful time, and I will miss you all.