Saturday, December 29, 2018

Last Times

(A year ago, I wrote the following to myself.)

In the past year or so, I have had the rare and bittersweet pleasure of observing myself do or experience a variety of things for the last time. It has been a season of last things that ended today as I left my final employment, my office and the company I owned for the last time ever.

How often do you get to observe this? When was the last time you changed your child's diaper, hugged a deceased parent, made love to your last lover? Most often we don’t realize it’s the last time.

When last December ended, however, I suddenly realized that it was only a matter of months before I retired. That January and February, with that bitter wind on the walk to the bust stop five blocks away, was happening to me for the last time.

March I filed my last corporate tax return. I’d surrendered to my successor a number of editorial and production tasks and decision making. This year I would slowly surrender corporate operations. I have been a business owner since 1997. By year’s end, no more.

May I had my last board meeting in that season. July I took my last short vacation. When you are the boss, you’re always in. In November, I extended banking privileges to my successor, along with running the payroll.

Then came the inevitable last month.

Dec. 14 I put to bed the last issue of my weekly publication that I would have a hand producing. It would be the last issue before the Christmas break. It was my 1,525th issue.

“Putting to bed” is a journalism expression meaning to complete all editorial and layout work on a newspaper or magazine so that it is ready to go to press; it comes from an old printing phrase to lock up the type form of a publication in the press’ bed, before printing. My publication hasn’t been printed since 2006, but I was still putting it to bed on this day two weeks ago.

On Dec. 15th, I last saw my favorite luncheon checker, with whom I played the game of trying to find out what happened on the year matching the amount due; for example, if the lunch cost $14.92, the year was 1492, the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Dec. 19, I last saw my favorite street person outside the luncheon place I go pick up something to eat at my desk. We exchanged the daily refrain. His was “What’s the word? Thunderbird!” For that he got my ritual $5 “tip.”

On Dec. 22, I finished writing the last story I would ever write for my publication, no longer under my byline (just as the first one didn’t have my byline, both for institutional reasons).

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