First and Last

First  and Last Time

Saying: “There’s a first time for everything.” One of those those corny sayings that we heard as a child that often had little meaning or relevance at the moment we heard them. I remember hearing them from my grandparents from time to time and smile at the wisdom they were trying to impart in a simple saying or quote. They would probably be surprised that I remember the quote or that I even remember them or the lasting impact they had on my life. My mother’s mother had a little saying that she would utter from time to time and I have never heard it the way she said it any where else: “Nothing beats a can’t like a try.”

I feel fairly safe in saying that my grandchildren will not carry those types of feelings toward me into their adult years or later life. They just weren’t that exposed to me and I have had little impact on them. Maybe that’s a good thing.

One such saying that we hear today is “There is a first time for everything.” That can infer many images in our life and few would argue that it is a very accurate assessment of life’s experiences. You probably can remember a long lists of firsts.

There was that first puppy, first bicycle, first day of school, first date, etc. Thinking about firsts tends to make me look ahead and wonder what will be the next first. Maybe we reach a point where here will be no more firsts but that seems unlikely. It may be the first trip to the hospital, the first surgery, or the first day in the nursing home but those don’t exactly do much to cheer me up. That first Tarpon on a fly rod would go a long way to making me smile! That’s something to look forward to.

As we get older we start realizing that there is also a last time for everything, too. We will say sometimes, “I can’t remember the last time I did such and such.” Or, went some place, or spoke to someone. Maybe the last time for some things is not a memorable as the first time because we are not aware that it is to be the last time. It just works out that way.

I remember the last time I saw my mother’s father, my grandfather. I was leaving for school in California and went in to say goodbye as he lay on his sick bed following a stroke. I said, “I’ll be seeing you soon.” He replied, “I’m not sure you will, son.” He died a few days later. I was in my apartment on the corner of Carlton Ave. between Hollywood and Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, CA. when I got the news and I went out on the back steps and cried. That wasn’t the first time nor the last.

I remember the last time I spoke to my father, also on his sick bed in the Medical Center. I said good night and went home and got a call a few hours later. He had died. I had seen him alive for the last time. The same with my mother. “Go home and get some rest. I’ll be fine. You can come get me when they release me tomorrow.” Tomorrow never came for her.

We look forward to the firsts, usually, and also to some of the lasts, too. The last tooth being filled, the last chemo, the last day of school, the last day on the job might be some examples. Many religious people look forward to the last days and the return of Christ for His followers.

Those are often things we see coming and look forward to as much as a first. I used to try to play golf. Try to play is about the best description I can give of my golf experience. I did not make a conscious decision to stop playing but I did stop and there was a last time but I can’t recall when that was. Like many things, the last time happened and I did not know it.

When was the last time you told that person how much they mean to you? How much you love them? How much you respect them? You may have already seen them for the last time and don’t yet know it!

And, one thing about last times: they don’t always have to be. As long as we are alive and the other person is alive, you have the chance to make a new last time.

The United States is at a cross roads that no one could see through the fog just a few days ago. Not the most cynical of us could realized the depth of separation that seems to exit in this country as of today. A far time from the simple days in Sandy Point.

There are those that say democracy (I know we have a democratic republic) cannot survive more than 200 years or so. We have exceeded that prediction but could we be on the verge of something here?
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I believe that the problems that the noted political philosophers have observed as natural weaknesses in a democratic country are further exacerbated by the growing diversity and the growing influence on our country by people coming here and bringing their failed political and religious desires with an aim to setting up their old tents here. And then there is the desire to be politically correct unless the person is a Christian in which case the person is fair game.

I might say that my view is shared by my old friend Plato who lived about 400 BC. And several more modern day philosophers believe there is a life cycle and stages to democracy, and we may be in the last phase here and now. The last of American Democracy?

Ridiculous, some would say. Not at all, others would reply.

Have we seen the last time we might see an election that does not result in revolution? The divisive culture that exists now: Its the my way or the highway approach that is intolerant and wants to hear no dissenting view. The age of instant communication of minimal information to a generally uninformed public who want to read no more than 140 characters before starting a riot. People who don’t vote but don’t like the outcome from those who do. People paid by extremist billionaires bent on shaping society to their perverse way of thinking that has been formed by deciding that the America we have known is evil and must be destroyed. School kids who have been fed from the liberal trough so long they see only one side.

I may have already voted my last time. Who knows? It may not make a lot of difference to me. But I have five grandchildren who have not experienced adversity and the need for a unified country to stand against the evil and destructive forces that stand ready to devour us at the first opportunity. Without a major common enemy that threatens us all, we turn to destroy our selves.

Diversity is fine. To a point. In nature, the lion is not inherently bad. Neither is the goat. A lion is a lion and a goat is a goat. But when the lion is put in the same pen with the goat, the goat is eaten. Not because the lion is bad but because that is what lions do. Unless we can get the lion to act like the goat, it will be hard for that diversity to coexist.

The New America that welcomes all and has no borders and gives everything to everyone will have to be funded from somewhere and we already are bankrupt. Yes, we owe 20 Billion and neither candidate in the recent election wanted to discuss it and the press doesn’t even bring it up. The kids getting the free college will get one diploma and pay for several in their life time in the New America. A cost they have not considered. No one can be seen as advancing faster or further than the person next to them. That is not fair. A new world leader will have to emerge and they will probably speak Mandarin or Farsi. Can’t happen? Take a look at the map of the old British Empire where the sun never set. Or the Roman or the Ottoman. Or the USSR, for that matter.

I may have seen the last of the old US of A. I hope not but the skies are getting cloudy and I am an old fool, for sure. The New America may well have  Muslim law and an Ayatollah at its head.

We may have seen the last of freedom and we will all be the same. Subjects. At last. But equal. And war with each other will be the norm. I would hope to be proven wrong. Me and Plato and Mr. Prentice.

JC©2016

 

 

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