The Last Sunset

silhouette photo of person riding on horse under twilight sky

“I’m always busy.” And that’s true, but …

Here we are, the days are growing colder, and the year is drawing toward its end. Outside trees are losing their leaves, and leaves are letting go of their branches. I told someone lately “I’m always busy.” And that’s true, but as someone else opined once, as I get older it doesn’t take as much to keep me busy.

I will write a thought then sit and think over it and ponder on the next thought I’m thinking. It’s a real cycle.

No, unless I’m researching, I don’t read more than one book at a time. Each book deserves its own place in the sun and it is disrespectful to try to read two at once. That is my opinion on that. I sit down and read one book then I read the next. Or I would, but I don’t read two books in close proximity, mostly because my eyes give me grief.

I watched a documentary concerning people who have been influenced poorly by current medical practices. The point isn’t what they were damaged by, or how they became disabled.

The point is that these people had been active, vibrant contributors to the workforce and to other people’s lives only to find themselves slammed against a wall and suddenly disabled to the point of old age at a young age.

Psalms 37:25 “I have been young, and now am old;”

And there you have it. We don’t all enjoy a long, youthful life, even when we “Have the world by the tail on a downhill slide.” As my grandmother used to describe children’s lives, too often we don’t appreciate it.

And no matter how often we’re told to appreciate what we have—and no matter how often we smile and nod our head, we don’t really understand what we have until we don’t.

A short time ago I was reading an article about “Jimmy Dean” the country singer and sausage maker. The person writing the article described reading about how “Dean lived in semi-retirement with his wife, who is a songwriter and recording artist, on their 200-acre estate just outside of Richmond, where he enjoyed investing, boating and watching the sun set over the James River.”

The woman writing the piece explained why she had taken up reading the obituaries. She had done so after her mother passed away a few years prior. “Perhaps I read the obituaries because I believe that we exist as long as we are remembered. But how do we want to be remembered?” She wrote and you can hear a sigh in the words.

Apparently, her mother didn’t have the option to enjoy watching the sunsets. In her closing paragraph Stephanie Gertler (I do hope I got that name spelled correctly) asks some questions. I will leave it to my reader to determine if they are relevant.

“I wonder what my mother would have written in her own obit to capture her essence.
I wish that my mother could have spent evenings watching sunsets in her “golden years” rather than spending five years tarnished by illness and true confinement. I wonder when it was that Jimmy Dean unknowingly watched his last sunset over the river. I’m guessing it was probably better if he didn’t know that it was his last one.”

She has said more than what she wrote in those last few lines and left several unanswered questions. I hope she got to spend some of those years lifting at least a bit of the tarnish from her mother’s life.

It isn’t always easy and life situations can be tricky. Back in the day, my Adorable cousin visited her mother in the nursing home daily, taking her doughnuts. After driving her route, Adorable would grab some pastries and swing by for her visit. My aunt no longer recognized people, and so she labeled Adorable (her own daughter) the doughnut lady.

In my own day, my husband and our family would on a Sunday after church take a crockpot meal to my grandparents’ house in the afternoon. We would eat with them, and I would clean up the dishes. Until my grandma became mentally unable, we would play Canasta with them.

At one point grandma didn’t know me… but she liked me whoever I was. That was important to me.

But how do we want to be remembered? Indeed, what would each of us write as our obituary? What is our essence? Would we write something like, “(he) she lived, laughed, and loved—This person was a hero, was courageous, took time for other people, was selfish, stingy and whiney?”

How we are remembered takes place most often before the sunset years. How we are remembered is built on the foundation of how we treated others and how we lived our lives. Take time to walk with others. Sit with them and listen to both younger and older people.

“I wonder when it was that Jimmy Dean unknowingly watched his last sunset over the river.”

There are a few times when we can know something is our last time. If we come to retirement we can know this is the last time we will do thus and so, but for most of our lives that will not be true.

Generally speaking, we will not know, this is our last sunset, our last sunrise, our last hug, our last kiss—our last farewell.

I’m sitting at the close of this day. I have an hour and twenty minutes before the scheduled sunset for today. We finished cleaning our chimney and lit our fire for the evening and probably for the weekend. We had a freeze a week ago and the garden is now winding down.

Our year is winding down—six weeks until Thanksgiving, ten weeks until Christmas, and eleven weeks until New Year. Five hours and thirty-five minutes until tomorrow.

In the back corner of my office, it looks like I’m becoming Miss Havisham. I’ve got a serious spider web building there. It’s so fine and light, only during certain times of the day can it be seen. I have a dust mop that at some time on someday I intend to wipe it away and clean the corner out. I don’t know when someday will come.

Our lives here on this earth are like that delicate web.

Ecclesiastes 3:

1) “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 

2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4) A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5) A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6) A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7) A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8) A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”