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Last Times

Last Times
by Gene Johns
June 24, 2002

[Forward - July 19, 2010 - by David Bivens - Gene, a good friend of mine, from time to time writes something that from one aspect or the other digs deep into my thoughts. I was reading one of his earlier articles about a week ago and noticed he did it again. I know he has experienced many more last times since he wrote this a few years ago, some of which he could never have foreknown. After reading Gene’s thought’s, my own life and last times have become much more evident to me. I am keeping a keen eye out for those most cherished last times in my personal life.]   

A few nights ago I did something so simple and seemingly so routine that I never thought much about it. But for some reason that night it occurred to me how special it was to do what I was doing and how much it meant to me.

My four-year-old son had fallen asleep on the couch. As most Dads and Moms do from time to time, I gently picked up my youngest child and carried him to bed. As I picked him up and started walking down the hallway, he instinctively wrapped his arms around my neck, laid his head on my chest and continued to sleep. At that moment, I became conscious of how much I loved doing something so simple. I wondered if I would know when I carried him to bed for the last time. Of course, the answer is, I would not! I miss it already.

I didn't realize it was the last time when I carried any of my three older children to bed for the last time. If I had known it was the last time, I would have taken a little more time to cherish it. I thought about that as I sat there on the side of the bed, next to my four-year-old, watching him sleep. From now on, I will cherish each time I carry my son to bed as if it were the last time. 

Throughout life, we all experience the last time we do something without realizing it is the last time. Such things as the last time we played an LP instead of reaching for a cassette. The last time we came home late and feared what our parents would say. The last time we went out on a date with someone for the first time not realizing that person would be the last one we dated and end up marrying.

As a child, it was comforting to crawl up onto my mother’s lap and have her put her arms around me. Nothing felt safer or more loving than to be curled up on my mother's lap as a child. I don't recall the last time I did that, but the memory of the warmth and security of my mother’s love will be with me until my final days.

I didn't realize the last time I played in the rain as a child that it would be the last time I played in the rain. Perhaps, if I had known, I might have stayed out in the rain a little longer. Although, I suppose one is never too old to play in the rain. I will check out the weather forecast, and maybe there is some wet summer fun shortly for me, for the last time.      

Nearly 25 years ago my sister Gwen passed away at the age of 17. I didn't know the last time I talked to my sister that it would be the last time. If I had only known, I would have told her I loved her. I miss her.  

I don’t recall the last time my Dad had a cognizant conversation with me. Years ago my Father succumbed to poor health and a stroke. If I had known it would be the last time I would have a mindful conversation with my Dad, I would have taken a little longer and listened a little more intently.

I don’t remember the subject of the last time I asked my Mom a question and she responded with, “I will tell you when you get older.” Now that I am old enough to hear the answer I don’t remember the question. That is so frustrating!

On September 10, 2001, I went to bed not knowing it would be the last time I went to sleep feeling safe and secure from enemy attack within our borders. The morning of September 11, 2001, changed that indefinitely. If I had known, I would not have slept at all that night. Sometimes not knowing is better.

In life, we all do many things for the last time. Sometimes we know when it will be the last time and, unfortunately, too many times we don't. But, as I stated earlier, sometimes it's better not to know. We should never forget that in a world filled with uncertainty and unrealized last times we should live life to the fullest, cherish our moments and tell those we love, that you love them, perhaps, for the last time.