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Yesterday I picked up Someone from work and we went out to a place we often go to after symphony. The place has gone down a bit viz. service is getting a little slow/bad and the prices are going up. Finally, they have a new pay-at-the-table device that doesn’t ask for a tip, but obliges you to give 22%, 25%, or 30%.  If there is a way to modify the amount, I had to ask the waitress, who was standing there looking at me.  It was a frightful bill. On the way home we both acknowledged that may have been ‘the last time’.

Most of our ‘last times’ happen while we are not aware of them. I recently read a favorite place in Michigan is closing down. I haven’t been there in ages, but I went often when I lived there. I did not have an inkling that my last visit there would be my ‘last time’; I probably figured I’d be back soon.

As I reach sixty, I realized there are a lot of things now in the ‘last time’ category. I doubt I will ever revisit Key West, once a yearly endeavor. I am certain deadlifts at the gym are right-out. There are score of people who have either disappeared or have died whom I cannot remember when we last spoke, neither realizing at the time that was good-bye. 

My father is in his 80s. His list of ‘last time’ events is quite long, including the ability to see, read a book, and get up by himself. As we are as alike as two peas, I see before me twenty years of arriving where he is now.  

This could be a gloomy thing, especially if you ‘live in the past’ and tend to recall it more golden than it really was or you compare it to the ineffable future that has no certainties. There are two ways to turn the last times around from loss. First, keep in mind everything is transitory; nothing lasts. As I typed this I am thinking of Notre Dame.  As Mr. Gilbert wrote, it is right to remember the lost hotels of Paris. It is the memory, not the material that is of value.  Second, be mindful always of the present and appreciate everything in it.

Yesterday we went grocery shopping. As is our wont, we seek out check-out queen Denise. Seeing her starts our weekend right.  We’ve done this nearly every Saturday for years. It’s easy to think ‘she will always be there’ but she won’t. She could suddenly quit or move.  Conscious of this somehow makes the present interaction more marvelous and sincere. 

Someone and I will probably return to said restaurant someday, as we like it and it’s convenient after a show.* Or perhaps we wont, using this as an opportunity to try some new place. In time, either the symphony will cease (a possibility I hear) or we just won’t be able to go out late anymore. 

Meanwhile everything as it happens as if it is ‘the last time”. 

*Where else can I get a ‘Last Word’ cocktail? 

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