Lasts

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On May 25, 1935, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Babe Ruth hit a home run, As he trotted around the bases just as he had 713 times before, he didn’t know it then but it was the last home run of his career.

December 17, 1972, Eugene Cernan stepped off the Moon’s surface to prepare for the ride home. Three more missions to the Moon were planned, but NASA cancelled them unexpectedly. Cernan didn’t know at the time, but he would be the last man, for now at least, to stand on the Moon.

Lasts are mysterious things. Sometimes we see them from afar and plan for them with great ceremony. Those are the big Lasts: retirements, graduations, business closings, things like those. Other Lasts take us by surprise and other Lasts pass without our notice, until we look back.

My friends and I growing up had dirt bikes we rode everywhere from the time we were twelve or thirteen. We stayed with each other most of the time because it was easy to get together. Then Scott got a car. Slowly we put the dirt bikes away. I don’t even remember our last ride together. My bike was stolen when I was fifteen or so, but by then, I had my own car.

What I really want to say is we let things go by sometimes and we don’t even know it. How different would breakfast have been on September 11, 2001 for the thousands of people who were eating their last meals with their loved ones?

Mama and I never parted angry. The last words I said to her whenever I walked out the door were “I love you and I’ll see you in a little while.” I had it drummed into my head that no one is promised tomorrow. We might be here; we might not. My wife will tell you because she was standing there, the last words I ever said to my mama were, “I love you, and I’ll see you in a little while.”

Budge doesn’t leave the house without a kiss and an I love you even if she is just going up the road to a friend’s house because you never know what might happen. Around 25 years ago I spent the day with one of the best friends I’ve ever had. When the day was over, I gave her a big hug before I left to come home and we talked about doing it again soon. It wasn’t soon enough though — her cancer came back with a vengeance. I never saw her again. Just like that.

I worry because I see my daddy usually five times a year: Easter, Father’s Day, his birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I haven’t seen him this year since Christmas because of COVID-19. I talked to him for thirty seconds on the phone on his birthday. He and I do not have a good relationship. It’s very complicated but I know one day I’m going to get that call and it’s going to be too late to say all the unsaid things. I live with that fear every day. Two unbending wills always leads to tragedy.

So what I want you to do is think about lasts. If you need to make a call, make a call. If you need to get in the car and drive to someone’s house, do it. Get on an airplane if you have to, but say what needs to be said to who needs to hear it.

We aren’t promised tomorrow.

Love y’all and keep your feet clean.

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