Appalachia

Days that Will be First and Last

elderly lady's hands

How I wish that my heart could ever wonder in those days that will be first and last In my memory of things to be cherished Let me live with a touch of the past

—Just a Touch of the Past

I’ve studied on the line above since I first heard the song years ago. “Those days that will be first and last” what a powerful line.

As children we’re so busy growing and learning that we rarely take time to remember our first days, but when adulthood moves quickly toward middle age and beyond it seems our minds often recall those days that were first.

I remember years ago Uncle Henry and I went to see Aunt Ina in the hospital. She was elderly and failing in health. Her daughter and her son were there when we arrived. Ina was nervous. She wanted to go home and couldn’t understand why her mother and sister Marie hadn’t arrived to take her home.

The truth was her mother and Marie weren’t ever going to arrive to take her home because they’d both been dead for years and years.

On the way home Uncle Henry and I pondered the human brain. Ina was so sure her mother and Marie were coming, yet she didn’t really seem to recognize her own children. Her mind had drifted far back to those days that were first.

When I was a child there was an elderly lady who lived on the road above the church. She walked to  church for services unless someone picked her up on the way. Years later when she could no longer care for herself she was put in the local nursing home. She rarely knew her children when they visited, yet she could sing every word of the old hymns that were part of the weekly music services. Her mind too had went back to those days that were first and the songs of faith she learned as a child.

I’m perfectly happy and very thankful for my life, but oh what I’d give if just once I could go back to the days when it was just Pap, Granny, Steve, Paul and me.

Tipper

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Nathan D. Beck
    October 10, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Tipper,
    I don’t know how people make comments relating to your subject of the day and get them posted the same day.

    More on the subject line, My mother always said that if you watched and listened to a person in the last days and hours of their life, you would get snippits of their life as she was a believer that they relived their entire life before passing on. I once was awakened by my Mother one nite. She was sitting on the side of her bed having a one sided conversation with her Dad (my grandfather) telling him she would take care of something he wanted her to do. He had passed a number of years prior to this incident.

  • Reply
    Jeanne FUGINA
    October 10, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Tipper, aging and the mind are still such a mystery to science. We get closer, everyday of research, to better understanding such, but much more work needs to be done. Genetics play a great part, but not all. In my husband’s genetics he has a Grandmother who lived to 100, but suffered from dementia for her last 20 years. He also has his mother who was sharp as a tack until her death at 103. Will he follow one of them? A question he contemplates as he is now 78…but still sharp. My mother and six of her siblings also suffered from dementia in later life. The fear of such crosses my mind quite often. What to do????
    Maybe the future will be much brighter for our children and grandchildren in that respect. Bless all those living with and caring for an Alzheimer patient. It is such a challenge and so very sad.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 10, 2019 at 11:38 am

    This brings up so many emotions I couldn’t write them all. As I get older I live in the past more and more. I think about a baby brother who has been in heaven for 62 years and about Dad who has been gone for over 8 years, I know they would have had a great reunion. In the present I think of my Mother who is going on 93 yrs. old. She is becoming more feeble and her memory is real bad. Like a Mother she wants to fix my breakfast and see that I don’t go hungry not realizing that I just fixed her breakfast. I believe I remember more people who have made the crossing than I know ones that are still here. I could go on and on but I have to stop somewhere.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 10, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Tipper,
    In your last Paragraph where you mentioned your immediate family, I can relate to that. Oh, I got friends, but it’s not the Same. I’ve buried my mommy and daddy and five of my brothers. I’m sure I will see them Again someday and what a blessing that will be.

    When I was in High School, Mama told me a story I had never heard before. A long time ago, 20 or so years before I was even thought about, Mama said she lost her first child. I would have had an older sister, had she lived, but she lasted only a couple of days. (My own daughters don’t even know this). That’s why I claim “You” as “the sister I never had”. …Ken

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    October 10, 2019 at 11:05 am

    My family is so small that every time we have a holiday gathering, it is a family reunion.

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    October 10, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Your post today described my feelings of late. My Mama left this realm fourteen years ago this month. She did not recognize me, her only child for months before. She was fourteen and I was her sister two years older. My Daddy was seen by her as her Mama. She was reliving a time that meant the most to her. The older I get (64) the more I miss her and long to hear her voice call my name. I am now an orphan, my Daddy passed five years ago. And like you, I long for those days when it was the three of us in our little house.

  • Reply
    Dee
    October 10, 2019 at 9:22 am

    I’ve had a happy life too but oh how I would love to go back and spend a day with Mother, Daddy and my Brother! Even though I know I will see them again some day. I sure do miss them!

  • Reply
    Shirl
    October 10, 2019 at 9:04 am

    My mother-in-law could remember my phone number and yet forget who she was talking to when I answered. She would ask me to come find out who the strange man that who just stepped outside the house. The strange man turned out to be her husband. I am blessed to have a powerful memory and pray that it stays that way the rest of my life.

  • Reply
    Cheryl W.
    October 10, 2019 at 8:27 am

    This spoke to my heart today. My mother is 98 and is in the land of firsts like Ina was. she knows my sister and me, but is definitely living in her oldest and sweetest memories.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    October 10, 2019 at 7:48 am

    I think perhaps the saddest week I ever spent was doing clinicals in a nursing home. This was many years ago before the strict rules made them safer and cleaner. A little lady would peal out with the most beautiful angelic voice I had ever heard with the old time spirituals. She would ask her husband the go fetch the children who had long been grown and gone. But, she could remember every word of those old songs, as she had sang in church. Her mind escaped the bleak surroundings to once again relive a time when she was caring for her children and singing hymnals as she worked. I had tears behind my eyelids all week, and one girl just called in because she could not deal.. The old folks used to call it getting “childish.”
    I cannot go back to those days filled with magic, but Oh how I wish I could. So many of my loved ones are gone, and I actually would love more than anything to again visit the first reunion we ever had. We had to fine tune, and speedily learned to keep it away from a family home. The beautiful state park in Pipestem, WV is perfect. I think I have it worked out, so that if I live a good life, I just might be ale to see many of them again

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 10, 2019 at 7:48 am

    There should be a word for your longing. Maybe there is but if so I’ve never heard it. So ‘days that will be first and last’ are one good way.

    There is a strong relationship between this and your ‘sense of place’ post. As someone posted, place is much about the people one shared it with in addition to the geography. It seems rather common that in last days the mind turns toward a recovery of something we had in our first days. For believers I think it is a dying grace by a looking forward to something coming rather than a dread.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 10, 2019 at 7:42 am

    I’ll soon be 69, Tipper, and truly understand that feeling. We have only four older family members left & three of them are in the same nursing home. My mother-in-law in 95 & her brother & sister are older than her. They are in a wonderful place–clean & filled with kindness. She is still able to talk (she does get confused sometimes and her short term memory is pretty bad) and get around some with her walker. But it’s so sad to see one blind & two deaf. And one of them has just wasted away to skin & bones. All my aunts except one are gone. And many of my age are also gone. An old friend of mine passed away suddenly last week.

    One by one family celebrations changed or stopped and the family reunions remaining are sometimes so sad as to be almost unbearable because thoughts of the ones who are gone naturally are more intense. I miss them so much. Everyone is spread out now or separated by crazy feuds. I probably miss Christmas at Granny’s the most. It was a huge family so Granny had tables across the living room and everyone brought food.

    Mama used to say that everything changes and we need to be aware of that and expect it. At her funeral, the preacher talked about this as my baby brother had given him a note about a talk he had with Mama out on her porch swing.

    I think Fall coming tends to bring on thoughts of the past, too. I love Fall but it does tend to be melancholy. I am grateful for now but I sure do miss some of the times past.

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