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Famous Last Words

Kenyon Sayler

YOU PROBABLY RECALL many firsts: Your first car, your first kiss, maybe even the first stock you purchased.

Firsts are exciting. Firsts are easy to demark. You’ve never purchased an item before, so—when you do purchase it—it’s a first. By contrast, lasts sneak up on you. There’s always a chance that you’ll replace an item one more time.

My wife has caused me to start thinking about my lasts.

This winter, my 36-year-old winter mittens finally wore out. In fairness, it was the outer mitten that wore out. I’d earlier replaced the wool liners three times. When I went looking for a new pair, I was startled by the $80 price tag. My wife said, “Don’t worry about the cost. This will be the last pair you’ll ever buy.”

That shocked me. But realistically, in 36 years, I’ll be replacing this pair of mittens when I’m age 98. Assuming that I’m still around, I’m less likely to be doing winter camping or walking the dog in the dead of winter, so she’s probably correct. This will be my last pair of mittens.

Our 26-year-old CRT television finally wore out. The replacement TV I purchase may be the last TV I’ll ever buy. If a new one lasts as long as my old one, I’ll be age 88 when it’s time to get a replacement. True, the odds are a bit better that I’ll need a new TV than a new pair of mittens—but not much. It can be a bit depressing to count down your life by the list of things that you’ll never need to purchase again.

Still, I disagree with my wife on one item. She has said that our current dog will be my last dog. I’m only willing to concede that he will be the last dog I get while married to my first wife.

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Martin McCue
Martin McCue
4 days ago

The thought that I am likely making my final purchase of something often crosses my mind when I have to make a big buying decision. My second thought is usually “If its going to last much longer than me, do I really need it?” I’ve often decided I don’t. It actually started whimsically when I was in my 30s and bought a high quality oriental rug. Now I ask things like “How many more cars will I own when I am now 71 (even assuming my kids let me drive one, ha ha)?” Or “How many times will I use a power washer or chain saw?”

[That doesn’t mean you have to go overboard with concern. My aged mother would not buy a new dishwasher once she hit her late 80s, saying “I’m not buying a dishwasher for whoever gets this house, and you’re not buying one for me either”, and instead spent the next couple of years propping the door open and timing the cycles with a timer. (As executor, I installed one before I listed her house for sale.)]

But whether you really need something any more at your age is a question that merits asking. You may save some money.

Jerry Pinkard
Jerry Pinkard
4 days ago

When I bought my 2014 Camry Hybrid in late 2013, my wife said “well that will be your last car”. I hope not but she may be right. I am 77 now.

My son and I put the last roof on my house over 20 years ago. I said after finishing that on a very hot late May day, that it was my last roof. It will soon need replacing but it will not be me doing that.

I do not worry about “lasts”. I just want to enjoy the journey.

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
7 days ago

Kenyon, as I devoted dog man, I got a good chuckle out of your last paragraph. Well said!

Kristine Hayes
Kristine Hayes
7 days ago

My ex-husband didn’t much care for my dogs. Enough said.

George Counihan
George Counihan
7 days ago

Fun thoughts Kenyon … Just had a new roof put on my home … the old one lasted 30 years … I won’t be doing it again!

HumbleGardener
HumbleGardener
7 days ago

Kenyon, thank you for the humorous reflections on your mortality. But take heart, your purchases may have a useful life beyond your own. I still use tools that belonged to my grandfather and father. They bring to mind words of advice and memories of experiences I had with those men, and provide a happy thought as I do my work.

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