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The Last Time... A Collection of Memories

The last time I went home to South Dakota on a brutally cold New Year's Day, I remembered the first time I drove home on my own from New Mexico, how worried my parents were as I travelled the long distance alone in my old car, and how tears flooded my eyes as I crossed the river into Dakota and knew that at last I had come home. 

The last time I held my now taller-than-me son close as we parted I remembered the day he took his first breath and I first held him in my arms. He has always been the sweetest, gentle soul.  I am amazed at the caring, confident man he has grown up to be.

The last time I spoke with my daughter as she moves forward into a new chapter of her life, I remembered the first time we were far apart and I wanted to be there to keep her safe from harm. I listen to the new-found strength and determination in her voice, and I realize how far she has come.

The last time I went home while my mother was still alive, I remember he face in the kitchen window when it was time to leave and I drove away.  It was the same as it had been the first time I left, and every time after that.  I didn't really understand her tears then; now I am a mother with grown children that live far away, and when we part I cry.

The last time I saw my father I remembered the big, imposing figure he was in my childhood and the first time I ever saw him cry.  It was so painful to see how fast he was fading, and to know it would most likely be the last day we would share.  Then it was my turn to cry.

The last time I held Stormy gently as he slipped gently from life into the spirit world, I remembered the first day we brought him home as a newly-weaned kitten with ears way too big and tufts of fur between his toes.  Stormy shared my life for the next sixteen years as we survived the worst of times and came to treasure our life together  in the very best of times.  Apart from me, he was the only one who knew the whole story of those years, when he departed he took my secrets and a piece of my heart.

The last time I looked at my husband, his eyes bright with humor and love, I remembered the first time I saw him almost six years ago.  I knew then that I was taking my first steps into a life far different than anything I had ever experienced or could imagine.  I am even more in love with him today than I was yesterday.

Life is all about change, nothing stays the same forever.  There will always be first times and last times, new adventures and treasured memories.  We can fear change, we can run from it, we can futilely attempt to avoid it, or we can embrace it and step boldly forward with hope that the best is yet to be.
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This essay was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are first and last

20 comments:

  1. Another beautiful post, Josie. I especially liked the part about your mom's face in the window when you left. I know that face, as my grandma does the same thing whenever I leave her house. I hate living so far away from her.
    Life is full of change, with firsts and lasts. Embracing them is the best we can do.
    Have a wonderful start to your new year!

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    1. Thank you Christine! I know it won't be too many more years before you too are one of the "mom's in the window" waiting eagerly for arrivals and shedding tears as your children head out again to their own lives. It is a blessing that we love and are loved that much!

      Change is always a bumpy road, but somehow we climb the hills and get to enjoy some beautiful views along the way. Looking back at almost sixty years, I wouldn't trade it for anything, all changes included since they brought me to where I am now!

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  2. Great story, very tear jerking! Thanks for sharing!

    I am definitely looking forward to a new year and the hopes and challenges that lay ahead!
    : )

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    1. Thank you Joseph, memories such as these are very emotional, but that just means that those involved are very close to my heart! I join you in looking forward to the new year, a great time to begin again. That's the cool thing about life, we can always begin again! Happy New Year to you!

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  3. Great reminder to look back on the precious memories of a year ending rather than focusing on a whole year that may not have been so great.

    Here's hoping for a most beautiful and wonderful 2014 for you!!

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    1. So very true, Carrie, every year has it's high points and low points. Endings lead to new beginnings and I'm ready to dust off my two shoes and begin again, right along side you! :-)

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    1. Thank you Terri! This one came from the heart!

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  5. What a fitting finale for the year. Yes it was emotive and no doubt set all your readers minds back to such events in their lives too. Love and sadness are always close by and I am sure we would have it no other way it is what makes us human. May you have a beautiful 2014.

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    1. Amen to that Robin, there will always be people coming and going in our lives, and critters that we love too. Hopefully we can look back and view most as a blessing, always we have learned something that helped us to grow. Wishing you a truly wonderful year ahead too!

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  6. This post just made me cry. Eventually, I will be a face in the window too - waiting and waving goodbye. Change is constant . . . . .

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    1. This is true, Abelle, we will always be sad to part from loved ones and beloved friends, joy comes in knowing we will see them again. The harder we resist change in our lives, the more miserable we will be, because change comes regardless! What I've learned is that change, no matter how painful, can bring wonderful new things to our lives!

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  7. All four of my kids are here, but i know it's only for just so long. Meanwhile, i enjoy the chaos.

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    1. I would rejoice in that kind of chaos, Mimi, I remember my mother refusing to clean the little handprints off windows after a visit from her grandchildren! :-) As it was, I was blessed to hear the voices of both of my children on Christmas and again today!

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  8. Thank you for your note today to nudge me to post. I so needed that!

    I loved your post. After my father died and my mom moved into her apartment she started to stand at the window and wave as we walked down to the parking lot to our cars. It gives me a lump in my throat every time.
    I wish you a very Happy New Year!!!! God Bless you!

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    1. Your blog update was a pleasure to read, Lena, I am so grateful that you are doing well and your life has been blessed with such wonderful events! Moms will always be moms, and will miss their children dearly, that speaks to how much they are loved! Wishing you a truly healthy and happy year ahead too!

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  9. I love what you did with this, Josie. How lovely - such a collection of beautiful moments. Life really is all about firsts and lasts...and all the moments in between fill in the rest of the spaces of our lives.

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    1. You are right Lisa, if you start to think about it life is a never-ending cycle of changes, endings lead to new beginnings, new challenges, and ever increasing experience. With any luck at all we gain some wisdom along the way. It's a crazy ride, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

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  10. I cried all the way through. So happy in the end though. A New Year brings new chances to find love. Thanks for your inspiration

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    1. I shed a few tears when writing this piece too Mary, memories come with strong emotions, but through it all, I've grown... and I've come to terms with the fact that we need to appreciate each other and what we have in our lives NOW, because tomorrow isn't promised. Yes, a new year is the perfect time to open our hearts and minds and see who God sends into our lives!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)