Thursday, 29 July 2021

The Last Time.

This evening on television I watched Chris Packham doing his favourite walk.   It was a walk he did many times with his father when he was a child and then as an adult a walk he did alone many times as he came to terms with his loneliness and his dealing with his Asperger's Syndrome.   And he talked about his father - now old and unwell- and speculated on when his Dad had done the walk for the last time.

I have so often thought of this 'last time' happening. The farmer and I went on long walks in the Dales when we first started 'courting' in 1992.   But then gradually I was no longer able to walk so far and he began to go with a walking group and without me.   But I have no recollection of which was the last long walk we did together.   Similarly after breakfast each morning when he let his cows out after milking, Tess my Border Terrier and I always went with him and walked back round the fields looking what was out.   The first orchid in the hedge bottom, the first marsh marigold in the beck, the first baby rabbits.   But then one day my ankle made the walking in the fields too difficult.   But I can't recall the day when it was 'the last time'.   In fact life is full of 'last times' isn't it?  But we can rarely recall when they were and certainly for me there is a certain sadness in this as though 'yes, I enjoyed it, but had I known it was 'the last time' I would have enjoyed it more.'

Some last times of course are easily remembered - the last day at school (we threw our school hats in the river - it was a tradition), the last day at University, the last day in a particular job.   But the really precious ones usually escape our memory and we can't reconstruct any sort of picture of what it was like and how we felt.   I can't remember for instance the last time I saw my father, or my mother.   I lived a long way from home with my family, both were ill for a while and I went to see tthem (both in hospital) when I could.   But the last time?   That I can't remember.

Memory is a strange thing isn't it - and not always reliable.   Some enjoyable moments in my life (and not always 'last times') were such fun - my first husband and I played in an Early Music Group (in costume) with a group of musical friends - some long dead now- we had some great times but looking back how I wish I had enjoyed them more.   Or would that not have been possible without hindsight?

Some memories we get all wrong - others we tend to embroider (especially those of childhood like fishing for sticklebacks, climbing trees etc,) but there will always be some which however hard we try we just can't recall, some events which would now never happen again (like those marsh marigolds and David's voice saying 'they're out' when he came in for breakfast one morning).

33 comments:

Wendy said...

I wish I could remember the last time I picked up and carried my children who are now grown adults. Though if I had known it was the last time how could I ever have let go?

Rachel Phillips said...

How do you know what "enjoyed it more" would have been? How do you measure it? If you enjoyed the walk with your farmer then surely that is a lovely memory. Imagine all the pressure if you had been trying to make it something else because it was to be the last walk.

Tasker Dunham said...

I saw the Chris Packham programme and thought it the most powerful thing I've seen in a long time. Have you read his book: 'Fingers In The Sparkle Jar' about his solitary childhood?

Tasker Dunham said...

... I do remember being aware I wouldn't be doing it much more the last few times I sat cross-legged on the floor with my daughter sitting in front of me so I could tie her shoelaces.

The Feminine Energy said...

I think it's God's design that we don't realize when it will be the "last time" with anything, especially our loved ones. We'd never want the day or the event to end, in that case, and our lives would be forever in a state of sadness. What a thought-provoking post! ~Andrea xoxoxo

the veg artist said...

As the credits rolled on the Chris Packham programme, it did say that his father had died since the walk was filmed. There are some memories I just don't have, of my mother especially - I can't remember her at all, and there are other memories I wish I could forget - of the very difficult final year of my father's life, when I was still a child. My best memories are of places, the area in which I grew up with a lot of freedom, and a close bunch of cousins to play with.

CharlotteP said...

I have thought about this quite a bit too, and clearly remember the last time I did lots of things with my husband. the last time we did a favourite walk, the last time I saw him cycle up the drive, the last cup of tea he brought me in bed. Although now, I would give anything to tell him how much I appreciate these (and many other) things, as The Femenine Energy says, our lives would be in a constant state of sadness. Make sure we take the time to tell those we love how much we appreciate them, while they are here! We appreciate you, Pat, and your thought provoking posts...even when, like today, they make me cry!

Derek Faulkner said...

I agree with Tasker Dunham, it was a truly powerful and beautiful film.
"Fake or Fortune" was also very good as they tried to identify if a sculpture was an undiscovered Henry Moore. Filmed in part around Norwich and Norfolk.

elf said...

My favorite post of yours! So many lasts … but firsts, too! You had a first day with your carer! First reads through a new book. Do you think the firsts eve stop, either? Even the last experiences will be a first for people (which sort of makes it interesting, doesn’t it?) so many thoughts this has inspired.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with this sentiment.

Anonymous said...

Lovely .. and yes.

Debby said...

What a lovely post. We cannot know the future, and I suppose that is a good thing.

Moira said...

Four years ago I had my hip replaced before it was done I was miserable I could not walk along paths and the hills I loved. Enjoy what you can do, do not think this is the last time because we do not know. Today I walked 15ks around a lovely farm in KZN South Africa. Since my opp I have also back packed across Spain. Live today like there is no tomorrow. I am looking towards vivid restrictions being lifted and I can travel again. Do not look back look towards tomorrow

Bonnie said...

I relate so well to this post Pat. Many times in the past I have thought about my "last time" for something. I remember clearly rocking my second and last child and thinking "one day soon will be the last time I rock him". Some "last times" I do remember such as the last time I saw one of my brothers before he died, or the last time I saw my parents.

I love that elf (above) said there are also many "first times"! That is a good way to look at life in a more positive manner.

JayCee said...

I have begaun to appreciate most of the good things in my life now, as though it may be the last time I may experience it. As others have said, who knows what lies ahead.

Ellen D. said...

A great post, Weaver! Makes me want to celebrate today and live in the moment as they say. I will have to pay better attention to all I can do and enjoy what I can now.

The Weaver of Grass said...

No Tasker I have not read The Sparkle Jar - I shall look out for it now and read it - especially as I have a Grandson with mild Aspergers/ Also I agree what a powerful film it was.

Yes Veg artist I did see that his father had died - he gave the impression throughout the film that he was very ill.

Thanks everyone - much food for thought in your replies.

Heather said...

I have often thought that it is a good thing that we don't realise some of the 'last times', especially if they involve much loved friends or relatives. I can clearly remember the last time I saw my father. He was sitting up in his hospital bed tucking into his supper as we left after visiting him.
Memory can be very fickle. I am often surprised by the things I can remember, as well as those I have forgotten and have to be reminded by a member of my family.

Anonymous said...

Ooo-eee Pat...like CharlotteP, I am in tears with this one! Pam, Aust.

gz said...

We saw the programme..I used to walk and cycle that path in the 60s.
I was glad that Pirate saw the programme as it helped him understand Aspergers a little more.
As you say, last time things...now Chris Packhams dad has died..it can't have been that long after the programme.
I think of the last time I saw my longest standing best friend..of 44 years...we said goodbye as usual but then he gave me an extra big hug..we were on our way to NZ for a few months.
Six months later as I was about to give him a call I got called to say that he had died. I think he must have known.

Janie Junebug said...

Beautifully written.

Love,
Janie

Susan said...

Life is a large compilation of memories. It is interesting how some are remembered in great detail and others are vague. Last times on reflection are a bit sad being the last time.

Joanne Noragon said...

A wonderful post and equally great comments. How many last times are we entitled to?

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

Your beautiful writing today had tears welling up in my eyes. My grandson is 11 now and the last time I hugged him (just a couple of weeks ago) I thought to myself when was the last time he was small enough for me to pick up. I don't remember the occasion. There is always so much going on in our lives, even on quiet days, I forget to take note of those everyday, last time we will do things, activities.

Cro Magnon said...

I once went to a friend's house, and he showed me a painting (of mine) that he'd bought many years ago. Amazingly, I couldn't remember the painting at all. After an hour or so I began to remember it. It was a very bizarre and worrying experience. Memory can play tricks.

thelma said...

A thought-provoking writing Pat. Talking to my daughter early morning and she was remembering her cousin Marc and his cruel jokes. But then she remembered when they were both small of the letter which they had written together saying 'granny had stinky knickers'. I don't know if this was a last time but she was mortified by Grandpa telling her off but remembering that her cousin had been hit with a stick (product of public school education!)

Librarian said...

I have been having very similar thoughts in the past months, Pat, mainly related to my parents, since they are both not able to do so many of the things they enjoyed anymore. When was the last time my Mum and I did our favourite walk together? I can look it up in my diaries, but I did not know then that it was going to be the last time - what I did know, though, was that my Mum needed frequent breaks, resting on benches along the way more than previously.
Thankfully, I remember exactly when I last saw my husband alive, and I also remember the last time I spoke to a close friend who died of AIDS only a few days later.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's better that we don't always know when we're doing something for the last time. Think of being on holiday in a beautiful spot and walking on the last day knowing it is the last time - sadness is felt then. Far better to enjoy the things of everyday life as they happen without thinking into the future, as we all know things can change in an instant. Enjoy and revel in each day, every minute of it.

When someone you love dies you wish you could have had longer with them, make the most of every minute with them now.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Anonymous - well said. I have lost two busbands - and another thing which has struck me both times is - would I rather I had died and they had lived and the answer is really no - Being left alone and grieving is much the worst option, especially in the early days.

Cro - I have had similar experiences and I agree it is indeed bizarre.


Thank you to all of you. What thought-provoking things you have said - we have obviously had experiences and in a way it is good that we have said so and shared our thoughts.

The bike shed said...

The frailty and the fallibility of memory is a preoccupation of my writing - raising questions that I sense are answered in our hearts as much as our heads.
Blake Morrison's book - when did you last see your father, is a rather good exploration of the themes about which you are writing, with a Yorkshire flavour too!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks Bike Shed - will look out for it on World of Books.

Victoria said...


I was diagnosed as HEPATITIS B carrier in 2013 with fibrosis of the
liver already present. I started on antiviral medications which
reduced the viral load initially. After a couple of years the virus
became resistant. I started on HEPATITIS B Herbal treatment from
ULTIMATE LIFE CLINIC (www.ultimatelifeclinic.com) in March, 2020. Their
treatment totally reversed the virus. I did another blood test after
the 6 months long treatment and tested negative to the virus. Amazing
treatment! This treatment is a breakthrough for all HBV carriers.

Oliver Steve said...

I'm super excited to tell the public that my daugter health have been permanently restore from HSV by Dr Agbomina . my husband and i had HSV for years but everyone told us that there was no cure to it and every doctor we contacted failed to cure us until I contacted Dr Agbomina , he remcommended herbal medicine for my husband and i and we're both Negative now, this is the greatest testimoney i have shared and i am so happy that we're normal now. You can contact Dr Agbomina via his WhatsApp +2348050495479 or email: dragbonherbalmedicine@gmail.com You can visit his Website at https://dragbonherbalmedic.wixsite.com/welcometodoctoragbon