Taylor: The poignant pleasures of last times

The realization these were the last set of tires I will buy lent a slightly different flavour to the transaction.

I bought my last set of tires a week ago.

I mean that literally—I expect them to be the last set of tires I ever buy for this car. It’s already at 245,000 km. We’ve owned it for 13 years. Which works out to approximately 18,000 km a year.

The new tires are guaranteed for 130,000 km. But they’re only used for eight or nine months of the year—the rest of the time, we install winter tires. These new tires shouldn’t wear out for another 10 years. By then, the car will have gone over 400,000 km; I’ll be close to 90.

Will I still be driving? Will the rest of the car last as long as the tires? I’m inclined to doubt both possibilities.

Which makes this, therefore, the last set of tires I will buy.

That realization lent a slightly different flavour to the transaction. I looked around, thinking I might never see the inside of that tire store again.

Did I feel any pangs of regret?

I have to admit that I didn’t. Haggling over a set of tires that are more expensive than I need is not one of those life experiences that I want to perform any more often than necessary.

And if there is a life after death, whatever it may be, I don’t expect tire stores to be part of it. In another existence, why would we need tires, if we don’t have cars?

Wait—no cars?

At my age, I’m increasingly recognizing that many daily experiences may be “the last time.” I say goodbye to friends who live half a world away; we only see each other face to face every seven years or so. It may well be the last time I see them.

I go for my annual hike in the Rockies. A man my age, apparently in good health, keeled over on the trail. That could be me. Even if I recover, as he did, it might be the last time I’m capable of back-country hiking.

The dog snores gently on her mat beside my chair. She’s a big dog, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, a hardworking breed who needs lots of exercise. But she has just had her eighth birthday. She’s slowing down. A few more years, and we won’t have her any more. Is she the last big dog we will ever have?

Will I have sufficient stamina—mental, physical, emotional—to befriend another large animal, for another 10 years?

“Give us this day our daily bread,” say the familiar words of what we call The Lord’s Prayer. I think of that line as more than just a “gimme”—it invites us to appreciate our daily bread. Our daily relationships. Our daily duties.

They are—or they can be—precious moments.

If this is my last loaf, I want to savour it fully. If this is my last dog, I want to enjoy her as much as possible. If this is my last hike, I want to breathe in every aspect of it.

And if this is my last tire store, well, so be it.

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