I hope I’m not being overdramatic, to the point of morbidity. But lately, whenever we have to make a decision about a seemingly simple thing, like replacing our 7-year-old car, I feel as if at issue is not just another replacement for a car, but very possibly the last choice for a car we’ll ever make.
It does feel that time of life when anything we decide to do is a last choice, a last chance at anything.
While Vergel agrees it’s time to get a new car, he doesn’t share my now-or-never attitude. Practical and cost-conscious to a fault, he sees no good reason for stretching the budget for the model I’m eyeing. But when else, if not on a last choice, is a good time to turn bold?
My own dad, convinced he could not take his riches with him, did not stop looking for the trick that would have his life run out at the same time as his pocketbook, without missing out on anything. I must say he came pretty close to his objective.
He had been generous enough as a provider, but not so generous as to insure us for life or inspire in us any sense of class or entitlement. He was that generous in life, but not in death; he didn’t want anyone to benefit from tragedy, least of all his own.
The cash he left, uncannily, was just enough to pay for his hospitalization, brief home-care and funeral. Not lacking at all in accomplishments (five-term member of congress, newspaper columnist, ambassador), he had done it all. He died at 91, having lived a life of his own choices.
I don’t come even remotely close to dad’s good fortune, and neither do I ambition to. I’d be happy enough to be able to make those last choices on the safe side of recklessness, for reasons I don’t want to have to justify or explain. Basta! I want to dote on every one of my last chances as I would a bunso, a last child.
But Vergel seems pulling toward the opposite direction; in that sense, he seems to have become more conservative and sentimental, rather out of character. He’s been, and continues to be, some risk-taker, a maverick, otherwise.
Still, he may have a point. He is convinced someone with genes like mine has no business bingeing at the tender age of 75. He imagines I will live on and on, beyond my self-indulgent expectations, as my folks are wont to do on both sides—Roces and Reyes.
When he worded his unique proposal, “I like to grow old with you,” I wonder if he knew how long a haul he’d be in for.
In the matter of choosing a more luxurious last SUV, I may just concede and settle for the new model of our old car. But considering how long we keep a car, it’ll be a while before I get to make another choice, if at all.
Indeed, it seems I’m in the market for last whims. The other day I saw an ad in the papers announcing easy payments for the most expensive and most comfortable bed ever made. Vergel and I went over to check it out and made the mistake of lying down on one. And I can advise people, if like us, you can’t afford it, please don’t sample it. Believe me, it’s not easy to forget the sensation of floating on a cloud.
I jumped out of that dream fast. To give you an idea, our own pretty good bed cost us less than a set of its queen-sized pillows.
Budget does have a way of dashing dreams, but it should still accommodate travel—itself, I feel, a last-chance urgency. I’m looking forward to trips spread out in the next three or five years. For this endeavor, Mr. Conservative seems offering only a token resistance. I found the usual entry point into his soft spot: building memories for older age. Meanwhile, we’re investing in our own health to make sure we can make the trips.
While happy enough to be making last choices, deep down, I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed—who am I kidding, I’d be elated—if they turned out not to be the last ones, after all.
For another last adventure, I’ve been looking at our unit, where we’ve lived all these 15 years, wondering if it will be our last address. I think we’re good for one last move to another home, if we act fast.
Admittedly, that would be ambitious and certainly final, if it happens at all. Well, if it were up to me, I’d say it certainly merits some thought, but maybe not, again, for Mr. Sentimental, who loves everything about our place, especially as we have fixed it, not to mention its prime location and cozy size and appointments.
But I’ve overheard him sighing for a little more space for his books, and may have found an opening. But, again, Vergel may be happy enough with just another bookcase.
He’s lucky I’ve given up on a farm or a small house with a garden and pets, but not a bigger condominium unit, a three-bedroom at least, with a living room that can accommodate in fair comfort both sets of our children and grandchildren or guests for friendly lunches or dinners to remember.
There again are the magic words that have a way of tickling his heart—memories in old age!