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The Last Time…(revisited)

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

To save energy while I recover from COVID, I’m recycling this post from 2008. My mother and the dog Lexi are gone now, but the words still ring true. May peace and joy come to us all in 2023.

The last time one of my daughters sat on my lap. The last time my father gave me a violin lesson. The last time I ran five miles. I think about these occasions but cannot remember them, because I didn’t know when the child jumped off my lap (for my sins, I may have even asked her to get up) that she would never climb on again. I didn’t know when I wiped the rosin off my bow that I would never again hear my father interrupt my playing with “That’s very nice. However…”—something that never failed to annoy me when he said it. And I didn’t know, as I panted and stretched my sore legs, that I was experiencing my final runner’s high.

Now, as the years gently coax me to give up one thing here, another there (no more hefting bales of hay, no more partying until dawn), I wonder about these milestones too, as well as the ones to come. When will I hear my 90-year-old mother announce on the phone for the last time that she’s just brought 25 flower pots indoors (all by herself!) to save them from the coming frost? When will I fix my husband dinner (something that, after 40 years, has lost some of its luster) for the last time? When will I take my ten-year-old arthritic dog Lexi for her last walk? Will I look back and regret that I was annoyed during the walk because it was drizzling and she was lagging behind; impatient with my mother because I wanted to get dinner going; distracted during the cooking because I wanted to read a book instead?

Thinking about these things can, I admit, be depressing. But this sort of reflection also lends my days a bittersweet flavor, and allows me to approach activities that seem burdensome in a gentler frame of mind. I’m developing a kind of nostalgia for the present, simultaneously tasting its sweetness and its fleetingness. I try to walk the fine line between enjoyment of the moment and despair at its impermanence. I do the best I can.

12 Responses

  1. Lali,
    You may have recycled but this blog piece sure hits the mark for me at this moment in time in my life. Nothing can be hurried and nothing is certain for today or tomorrow. Waiting and watching like a perpetual Advent or Lent.

  2. So beautiful and so well expressed. Something so important to be reminded of in such a poetic way. Thank you love just wonderful. Big hugs and so much love from Julie.

  3. It is summarized for me in the awful fact that the paintings my mother loved to create (she thought of herself as a ‘Grandma Moses’ type of painter) outlive her to remind me, from my walls in my new apartment in the retirement community, that she is no longer on this Earth, nor is Daddy, and there’s not a thing I can do about it.

    I hope for transcendence, and to see all the loved ones again, and won’t find out until I am on the same Elysian Fields.

    And that, by having children, I have condemned them to the same unknowing that my parents did me. Sobering thoughts: do what good you can while you can.

    I can rail against the dying of the light, or I can admit the the time is coming for what I’ve always known. Neither will change a hair on my head.

    I thank God every day that I got the chance to be. I’m still enjoying that in many ways. It will have to be enough.

    My mind goes through this periodically – everyone’s does, I should think. ‘Tis the season.

    Meanwhile, I write – maybe my words will survive me on this plane.

  4. Beautifully written as always, Lali. Much of it really reads like a poem. I don’t think I read it in 2008, but if I did, I doubt it resonated with me as much then as it does today. Although losing my mother so young (I was 9) left me with a persistent awareness of loss and impermanence. Forty years ago I wrote a poem about nursing my last baby.

  5. It is so cool that your writing about the Bittersweet antedated Susan Cain’s most recent book on the same subject by well over 10 years. So good to recognize the complexity of emotions–not one or another, but both. For me, I think of this current time, where a knee injury has made it hard to walk and join in most any holiday activities, resulting, on the other hand, in experiencing the generosity of friends and neighbors (including you!) helping me in so many many ways over a number of months.

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