I was grudgingly washing dishes, up to my elbows in fluffy white suds and cereal bowls, dreaming of automatic dishwashers, when out of the blue the thought came: What if I knew this was the last time I'd ever be able to wash dishes?
I don't mean the last time I would have to wash dishes; that would be a luxury. What I pondered, as I scrubbed a frying pan, was mortality. It occurred to me that if I knew this was the last time I'd be capable of it, I would treasure the opportunity to do this ordinary, mundane chore. I'd revel in the heat of the water reddening my hands, the stray translucent bubbles that float out of the spout of the dish soap bottle, the silvery gleam of sunlight on a freshly rinsed juice glass.
Live each day like it's your last, exhorts the old clich. I don't buy it. If I lived that way I'd quit my job, give away my earthly possessions, and keep my children glued to my side - an inconvenient prospect, seeing as they're adults with lives of their own.
I prefer to live as if I'm living, to try not to sleepwalk through my days on autopilot. When I'm shivering in the backyard before sunrise on a January morning while my dogs inspect every inch of the hard-packed snow before deciding to take care of their business, I try to remember that having dogs, and having the physical ability to walk outside with them, to hold their leashes, is a privilege of good health and the ability to afford to live in a home of my own, where I can keep them. If I could no longer take them out for their pre-dawn constitutional, I'd miss it.
There are ritual "lasts" that make us sit up and pay attention: high school graduations, the last night in a home before moving, the last day at a job. Your mind unspools a string of memories you didn't even realize you'd been storing. All the good and bad times resonate with crystal clarity when you know you won't have any more of them.
Don't be thinking that I dance through each day, embracing every second, treasuring car breakdowns, burned dinners and computer crashes. I'm not that highly evolved/spiritually in tune/completely nuts (take your pick).
What I am, I think, is an appreciator. Little things make me happy. And since life is made up of little things, I am happy a large percentage of the time.
In the past eight years I've collected a lot of happy memories working at The Mining Journal. I've said countless times that I've been fortunate to have a job where I go to work among friends each day. And now that I'm leaving this job for a new challenge, those memories mean even more to me.
Space doesn't permit me to list the many reasons I'll miss my co-workers. And do you really even want to read a tear-tinged testimonial? You'll just have to take my word for it: I've had the privilege of working among extraordinary people. They were a comfort in my times of sorrow, and they celebrated my joys almost as if they were their own. I hope I've done the same for them.
This is also my last column here. But I'll still be around, and writing, so look for me. Thank you for following me this far, and for letting me know that what I've had to say has had meaning for you, and entertained you, too. Again, take my word for it: just like every moment of every day we're given on this planet, you are extraordinary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. Through Tuesday, she can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by email to email@example.com. "Life With a View," a collection of her Mining Journal columns, is available at area bookstores. Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot.com.