The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


For the Last Time

At thirty nine I had cancer. The type I had could have been fatal as there was little known at that time compared to current treatments. I found the tumor myself, a lump in the groin, and asked that it be biopsied as the doctors did not think it to be a problem.

When it proved to be cancer, radical surgical procedures were performed. I experienced a very special event during the week before surgery. I was walking down the street in Mill Valley holding the hands of my four-year old daughter, Ann, and my seven-year old daughter, Alison.

In their other hands they each held an ice cream cone. I remember extreme awareness of my surroundings as I thought to myself, "If this is all there is then I am blessed.” At that moment I saw every leaf on the tree before me as individual, unique, and important, yet interconnected to the whole. I've never forgotten that moment. I later heard someone describe a similar feeling that they had experienced with psychedelic, acid-type drugs.

I could understand why they would want to have this experience again. Life with cancer had given me a blessing. I felt centered, free to be in the moment.

Twenty years later I had my second cancer. One of my thinking processes at these times was to accept death, and try to learn its lessons. I wrote, "Thoughts of death bring sweet return, when from them more of life we've learned."

If you do not live you have little use for this lesson, but there is always the chance that you will have time to practice what you have learned. I admit that I have learned many more things than I have been able to put into practice. I believe it was Goethe who wrote, "A seeker of truth is a student of death.”

I believe this is true.

I created a game, a habit, of looking at or experiencing things as if it were, "For the Last Time.”
We go through life learning new things, doing them for the first time. First we learn to see. Our eyes do not focus so vision must be practiced and learned, and it really is exciting if only we could remember. You can watch a child take his first step and see the joy and excitement it brings. We may record his first spoken word.

There is a different excitement and joy that comes from doing things and seeing things for the last time. There is a sense of appreciation and thankfulness, a gratitude for having the experience that a "first" cannot compete with on the same terms.

To watch my grandchild take her first step is magnified and appreciated for perhaps I will never again experience that moment when a child launches herself into the bi-pedal upright stance. I savor the moment as I do all the times in the last few years that I have skied down the perfect slope on a clear winter day for the last time. You see, I can still ski, I just can't fall so I'm sure I should quit while I'm up, but I go back to relish the last time.

This summer I jumped off the Scott's jumping cliff on Long Lake below Mt. Elwell, again, for the "last time.” The height scares the grandchildren; the cold of the lake challenges me, but it's there and the "last time" makes it seem easier, not so cold. “I won’t have to do this again,” I say, and I jump. My grandchildren may return at seventy five and remember, saying, "Well, Grandmom did it, so can I.”

Perhaps, I'll inspire from the grave what I could not inspire in life.

I climb again to my favorite pine that grows high on a rock over Big Bear Lake. It is alone, and one cannot see any soil around its trunk, only rock. Year after year this pine is still there, facing winter storms, the cold, and the weight of wind and snow, and still it survives, bonsai, and beautiful. I come back every year for the "last time" receiving comfort and strength. "If you can make it, I can make it,” I say to this tree, my friend and inspiration.

I can walk through Mill Valley for the last time and it's amazing what I see and review and I am renewed. It is enough to have had each experience and if it is the last of the last times I am fortunate to have appreciated each moment in time.

First times you can only have once; last times you can experience over and over again.

By Ruth W. Scott


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Ruth, that was beautiful. Thank you for such a wonderful perspective.
There is great wisdom in Ruth's eloquent writing. Life is indeed precious and we so often take for granted that there will be another day. Thanks for sharing - we could all benefit from enjoying and appreciating all that life has to offer.
Ruth, you inspire me,

Love this post... Just love it.
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