jayellebee's Blog

July 20, 2011

For the Last Time

Filed under: Musings — Joanne @ 10:10 pm

     Sometimes I can be so focused on keeping an end in sight, I fail to enjoy the steps leading to that end.  Example?  College.  From the first quarter of my tenure at Cal during the “Free Speech / Free Love” 60s, all I wanted was the experience to be over.  Finito.  Let me outta here!  My numerically inclined brain did the math each time I dragged my exhausted body away from a final exam.  I’m one-twelfth to the end of college.  I’m one-sixth to the end. . . .   I’m eleven-twelfths to the end. . . .  The point is, there are instances when I look forward to doing something for the last time.

     Other times, I don’t realize I’m involved in a last time experience.  It’s been three winters since I enjoyed a day on the slopes.  That last February day was spectacular.  Perfect weather – cold enough to prohibit slush despite blue skies and bright sunshine.  Minimal crowds – no need to dodge idiot Boarders propelled downhill as if by rockets or beware of bouncing beginners in the middle of a run.  Best of all, muscle memory kept me in sync with the hill’s undulating moguls and curving drop offs.  I was fearless, skiing better than ever.  Events have conspired to keep me off my skis ever since, and there’s a chance I won’t shush again.  But that’s all right.  I ended on a high note, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

     Unwanted last times grind on my soul like bone-against-bone.  Arthritis of the heart.   Eyes fight back the sting of tears.  This past month overflowed with painful last times. 

     On June 14th, Ken and I sold our home of 32+ years.  True, we haven’t lived there full-time since May of 2010, but the home was still ours.  The possibility of dining with family, of dog walking with old friends, of simply being there still existed.  And now?  Now that’s all in the past.

     As I participated in the most mundane of activities during the final stages of the move, the realization yet another last time was passing clung to me like an aura.  A cold, blue aura.  I lunched alone at the picnic table one afternoon, remembering  my young sons playing “pickle” on the lawn.  My parents and in-laws laughed in the shade of the gazebo.  Cannon-balls splashed pool water into the flower beds.  Swings were pushed.  Birthday candles extinguished.

     I am the queen of procrastination when it comes to many household chores.  But during the past month even these distasteful tasks brought a litany of memories to bear.  While mopping the entry, I brushed a finger tip across the chipped floor tile where  a then four-year-old dropped the heavy magnet he liberated from the workbench of the great-grandfather for whom he was named.   Pulling toilet paper rolls and Epsom Salts out from under the bathroom counter revealed a peg from the family’s much-loved, well-used “Battleship” game.  How that bit of red plastic ended up in a dark corner under the sink is a mystery, just like how my boys’ laundry invariably included an odd number of socks.   I opened the built-in, empty hamper.  One.  Last.  Time.   

     Before driving away from this house I’d love for so long – for the last time – I smelled a blossom on the gardenia bush we planted for Mom.  She loved the rich scent and carried a bouquet of gardenias at her wedding.  Dad brought them to her with random frequency throughout their 54 years together.  I kept a bloom from this plant close to her bed in the hospital.  The creamy aroma melted my resistance and tears flowed.

     I’m told the memories are within me.  They don’t reside in the house I’ve left behind.  I’m told new memories will fill our new house.  There will be future family meals and future dog-walking friends. 

     I guess what I really need is a happy last time to look forward to.  Ah, I’ve got it.  As of right now I’m going to begin anticipating the last time I have to unpack and sort through the contents of this mountain of blankety-blank  moving boxes.



  1. We all have memories and experiences like that. Thanks for sharing, Joanne… not for the last time, please.

    Comment by Chris Pedersen — July 21, 2011 @ 7:30 am | Reply

  2. The last time is always so final, so complete– it is hard to wrap our heads and hearts around it. You are right though that the memories will always last within you to hold dear. Love you guys and thinking of you!

    Comment by Kathie — July 21, 2011 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  3. Lovely! Often we don’t realize what joy we are living until those “last times.” Thanks for writing this.

    Comment by lizbooks — July 21, 2011 @ 9:49 am | Reply

  4. Joanne,
    I am warmed, charmed, invited to remember and to search out those “battleships” of growing up, growing older, letting go but holding in the corner of our Memory Treasure Box. But, oh, I’m so glad the “mountain of blankety-blank moving boxes” is at your house, not mne!
    Thank you. A lovely piece.

    Comment by Jean G — July 21, 2011 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  5. It’s sad that I won’t see you and Shadow on the streets of Round Hill again, and that you are no longer our sort-of neighbor. Hopefully, we will still see each other at CWC. Every time I think about moving, I remember the “mountain of blankety-blank moving boxes” and that thought departs my brain forthwith. Hope you are enjoying your new home, even with the MBBMB’s to find a home for. Best of luck on that! It’s a thankless task. Take care. Bee

    Comment by Bee Hylinski - Author and Baseball Fan — July 21, 2011 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  6. A great piece, very touching. Unpacking the MBBMBs may be therapeutic, as you find the perfect place in your new home for each treasure.

    Comment by Donna — July 22, 2011 @ 9:15 am | Reply

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