More Than A Shoe Part

… Well, this could be the last time
This could be the last time
Maybe the last time
I don’t know, oh no, oh no (Rolling Stones)

John Clark musing about the concept of When. After my third fall on the day before Labor Day (only my ego suffered), the most abysmal gardening year of my life, and assorted dark thoughts (non-lethal, but mostly humorous as hell), I’ve turned to pondering those ‘last times’ all of us will face, or maybe already have started to.

Some are part of the natural evolution of life. There was a time when I bowled ten pins three nights a week, but that lost its allure a long time ago. I still have uncounted gigabytes of computer role-playing games on my two computers, but while I think of them fondly, I hardly ever play, mostly because it’s more fun to create my own fantasy lands as a writer. The same goes for friends. I learned a long time ago that not everyone ages or matures at the same rate and I’ve outgrown people I was once very close to.

Then, there are ‘lasts’ beyond our control…places going out of business like the movie theater in Pittsfield and the drive-in in Skowhegan, or products we’ve bought and come to rely upon that have vanished from store shelves.

In my case, it seems like every birthday after a certain point that ends in zero changes my body chemistry to make eating something I’ve enjoyed all my life unpleasant. at fifty it was  fried foods, at sixty spicy stuff (at least the upper ranges I used to consume with impunity). ant at seventy, I discovered I had a sudden intolerance for avocadoes.

I have a friend and a cousin who have sold their motorcycles because of the danger of dropping them, or getting hit while driving. Likewise two other friends have sold their boats and no longer fish. They cited the following reasons, danger of tipping and lack of fishing buddies. In a related scenario, a friend in Hartland volunteered that he’d quit hunting when he had to use his shotgun to help prop him up so he could walk home.

Most of the ‘lasts’ that come to mind involve physical activity, but not all. Consider the following: going to a concert-rude, rowdy crowds and poor hearing all come to mind as does the sad reality that many of the performers we grew up with are dropping like flies (I really miss Gordon Lightfoot), not to mention obscene ticket prices. Twenty-two years ago today (9/11) probably did it for many in terms of flying. We still do, but given a choice, I’d go by train. Then, there are pets. We have an old, nearly blind and deaf dog who we both love, but when he’s gone, that’s likely it. I’m tired of feeling like I’m a hostage to his weak bladder.

As for the physical stuff. I know climbing even a gentle mountain trail is behind me. We climbed Katahdin 47 years ago and I can still remember how long it took to stand up without wincing after we returned to camp. Flat, well-cleared trails are still doable, but wading on slippery rocks while fishing is out, as is getting into a kayak. The getting in is no problem, the reverse, however is likely a deal breaker. Canoeing is still possible as long as the two of us can get the sucker atop my car and fasten it securely.

As for gardening, given how much money we put into ours this year, not to mention the time and effort (mostly on Beth’s part) to keep it weeded, just so we could get a handful of tomatoes, celery, and a few meals of beans? Not likely to go there again.

‘Whens’ still on the go list include going to sporting events, eating out, plays, day trips, taking unusual photos, our week in Perry, going to book sales and then selling online (that NEVER gets old), discovering new books to read (don’t tell Beth, but I have 6 new ones on order at Bullmoose), cloud watching, and most important of all, coming up with new story ideas whether they are short ones or book length. I sat down last week to create something for a short story competition sponsored by a liquor company. The requirements were a it needed a ghost and had to be between 250-2000 words. I whipped up a nice rough draft of 1945 words in three hours. Once it set for a couple days, I submitted it. Will it win? No way of telling, but the last one I wrote for a similar contest ended up in King’s River Life.

Where are you on the ‘last’ spectrum?

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12 Responses to More Than A Shoe Part

  1. Anonymous says:

    These are definitely times for reflection. Yesterday, driving from Maine to Massachusetts And listening to NPR I suddenly thought: what if this (writing) was all a mistake and I went in a wrong direction? Very scary thought. It does sound as though as you’ve given things up, new interests are taking their place. You aren’t sitting in a recliner watching mindless TV.


  2. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    Yes to all of this. There are limitations galore that have cropped up lately, and I’m proceeding with much more caution than ever before.

    I never get too emotional when famous people die, but Jimmy Buffett’s passing really hit me (and I’m not a Parrothead). What I was most struck by was his positivity, even when he knew he had aggressive cancer. Of course he was a billionaire, which probably helped a little. *g* I’m going to try to concentrate on all the good stuff. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the bad stuff.

    • kaitcarson says:

      Jimmy was a force of nature. I was at the University of Miami 1970-1974. He was a complete unknown, and played at Bubbas and The Flick. Even back then, collecting coins in a hat, he was super upbeat, always friendly, and always kind. Ran into him years later on St. Maarten, he was still the same person. His death hit me hard, even though he wouldn’t have known me from Adam’s cat. He always made you feel like he was just thinking about you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I guess it’s a matter of perspective. When I got home from Malice Domestic back in 2019 (before Covid), I said, “That’s it. I’m never getting on a plane again.” That also meant it was my last Malice. Sad, but also an enormous relief. No more struggling to walk what seemed like miles in the hotel. No more wanting to be home, sleeping in my own bed, within hours of arriving at a conference. There would be people I’d miss seeing in person every year, but all in all I’ve had no regrets. Since then, there have been tons of things I’ve decided I’ve done for the last time, and most of those decisions have also left me with a profound sense of relief. I may not be physically able to do as much as I once did, but I live in a place I love, have a great husband and a cat, and I’m HAPPY. That counts for a lot.

  4. Bicycling and skiing are both on my reluctant last time radar at the moment. Problem is that I’ve already paid for a ‘23 -‘24 season pass at my favorite mountain – and Maine’s favorite according to that well-known impartial arbiter Downeast Magazine – Saddleback. If you make it to 80 and can still stand up they give you a free pass! I also have a beautiful Trek road bike sitting on a rack in my garage that gives me a twinge in my back each time I walk by. (Sigh)

    Said back is currently taking its revenge for years of abuse, from improper lifting of everything from aircraft bombs to (many) cords of firewood and more instances than I care to count of chasing and wresting with combative drunks over the years. My heating pad and I have a semi-intimate relationship and I’ve bought enough Tylenol over the years to fill a dump truck. Despite all that I’m not yet ready to surrender. I keep stretching it out and walking through the worst of it, and the bike and the skis are ready to go at a moment’s notice.

    Just look at the “Stones.” They look like the should all be dead by now, but only one of them is and the rest keep showing up at stadia to rock. Strange as it may sound I find that comforting.

    • Anonymous says:

      If only we could go back and scream at our younger selves, “You ain’t ten feet tall, and don’t get me started on the bulletproof idiocy!”

  5. Kay Garrett says:

    Not only does getting “mature” add to my list of lasts, but toss in medical issues that seem to not only increase in intensity but in numbers as well and there are a lot of last to be added to the list.

    I use to love to take off walking. It was my main way of exercising and to go 4 to 6 miles on a route to who knows where was common. Now I can’t even maneuver a stroll in our yard. (Yes we live in the Ozark Mountains, which means no flat land, and they don’t call it Stone County for no reason at all.) I use to enjoy riding the mower accomplishing two things at once – getting the yard to looking nice and it was my thinking time. Now severe back issues prevent me from doing that. We also sold out trike. Being a trike it wasn’t a falling issue, but rather me being able to get on and off of it. I laughed and said we should have keep it a year or two longer and then sold tickets for the hilarious show of me doing just that. The eye sight isn’t what it use to be either. Now they have added the trouble of seeing vertical and horizonal the same way with both eyes. Determination and the will not to give up means I still enjoy my reading, but now I have to take it in smaller doses or suffer the severe headaches that occur.

    As they say – The golden years are but tarnished brass, but to give up is to be 6 feet under and my maker nor I are ready for that yet.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Louy Castonguay says:

    I feel your pain. Over thirty years ago, I was in a car accident and shattered my pelvis. I knew, from the hospital bed that my body would age out early. So… I also have had the last of my pets “cats”, and had to get EMS in to pick me off the floor this spring. Yard work is now hired out, etc. WalMart is a “trip” for me. Yup, we age and our body starts quitting on us. But writing, I can walk for days, along lowly trails, up and down mountains, start fires and cook newly killed rabbit, or catch and clean fish and so forth.

  7. Judy Alter says:

    Thanks for a nostalgic start to Monday. My bucket list is still full of things I know now, at eighty-five, I’ll never do again, but I tell myself I have such great memories. And that really helps. Yes, I miss the people who are gone and wish we could repeat parts of the past, but in general the memories are enough.

  8. kaitcarson says:

    I feel your pain!

    I refuse to acknowledge any lasts – nope, not for me. At 71 I’m still up for scuba and skydiving (I haven’t done either in a few years, but that’s from lack of opportunity), hiking, running, and most important, learning new stuff. Do I pay the price, oh, yes, but I’ve never quit.

    Sounds like you have way more sense than I do, John, and most importantly, for everything you give up, seems you take up something new. Kudos.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Where am I on the “last” spectrum? Oh, I’ve thrown that spectrum into the trash!

    I’m on an “at last” spectrum. My age and hopefully my wisdom is helping me discard things that have kept me from having the time to write. Let’s see: should I do leaf blowing or start book #4? No contest anymore.

  10. Jule Selbo says:

    Such great food for thought!

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