THE LONG VIEW: Passing time with friends or the passing of friends?

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Like many shoppers, I sometimes use coupons. At the end of a foray through the grocery store, it feels good to save a little money. Unlike smart shoppers, however, my coupon activity consists mostly of cutting out, carefully setting aside, and later discarding discount vouchers that have passed their expiration dates.

Generally, I then curse the manufacturer for having the nerve to make theirs a limited time offer. Never again will I purchase their product, even though the fault is entirely mine for not taking advantage of the bargain while it was still good.

Like many shoppers, I sometimes use coupons. At the end of a foray through the grocery store, it feels good to save a little money. Unlike smart shoppers, however, my coupon activity consists mostly of cutting out, carefully setting aside, and later discarding discount vouchers that have passed their expiration dates.

Generally, I then curse the manufacturer for having the nerve to make theirs a limited time offer. Never again will I purchase their product, even though the fault is entirely mine for not taking advantage of the bargain while it was still good.

I thought about this while returning from the funeral of a gentleman in my circle of friends who was distressingly close to my own age. We had last seen each other last March, while he and some common friends were working with a traveling theater production. On the rooftop terrace of the building their production company was occupying in downtown L.A., he and I talked on a number of topics, including his heart attack a few years back and my brother’s memorial service, which had taken place the day before.

This friend was warm and witty, but he made a point of expressing sorrow regarding my loss. I will always remember his kind words and am so very glad we had this chat, because future conversations between us will be pretty one-sided, at least until I make my own crossing.

Looking back, I suppose the take-away is this: whether we pay attention or not, there is an expiration date on us all.

It is easier, I guess, to think of moments as precious when they are associated with loved ones living far away. With summer just over the horizon, I’m already thinking about elderly relatives who should be visited.

This morning I stumbled on a Facebook post from pals in Australia; gazing at the photo of beautiful Melbourne in the last month of their summer, I recall their hospitality on my visit there so long ago, and how I was able to return the favor as they journeyed across North America years later. I cannot keep at bay the sad notion that we may never meet again.

But the fact of the matter is, that unhappy thought applies to people we see regularly. Whether they are coworkers, neighbors, or friends, the time will come when you and they will no longer be able to be with one another.

I’m going to try to keep this in mind. Many of my Christmas cards included written wishes to get together with folks I care about. It’s time to do just that. Musician buddies regularly invite me to their gigs. I’d best start showing up before their shows are over. The season of graduation parties and wedding receptions is about to begin. Hectic schedule be damned, I will be attending.

Of my friend who passed away and plenty of others dear to me and now gone, I have some fine memories. I aim to make a bunch more. The opportunity to do that is, you know, a limited time offer.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com

THE LONG VIEW:  Passing time with friends or the passing of friends?