I came across the pictures from the Appalachian Trail thru-hike my sons made in 2005 and there are a few of them from the week of the 4th of July when I was hiking with them. The section of trail we were on in 2005 overlaps a bit with the section I hiked in October of last year. The turnaround point for me in 2005 was Little Rock Pond. We stopped there and went swimming.
Michael and I swam across the pond to the large white rock you can see behind me. Mike is still swimming back in that picture. When he got back and dressed, I hugged him and then watched as he and his friends hiked away north. I returned to the truck and drove home to North Carolina.
In October of 2015, I was solo hiking and took this picture of the same scene.
I was happy to be on the trail, and one of the thoughts I had was how much I wanted to talk to Mike about his hike, my little section hike, and all the camping memories I had. I had planned to show him the pictures when we got together at Christmas. That never got to happen.
While I was looking at the pictures last night it occurred to me that the time I joined them on the trail was the last time I went camping with Mike, the last time we hiked together, and the last time we went swimming together. Since we were Manchester Center on 4th of July, it would be the last time we went to see fireworks together, too.
We mark the beginnings of things, but very often there is no way to mark the last times.
...I read one of them a bedtime story
...We all went to the beach together
...One of them sat in my lap
...One of them held my hand to cross the street
...I helped one of them with his homework
...and so on
I dunno. Those kinds of things fade away and you don't even notice.
I remember the first time we went camping after the twins were born, though. We went to Pettigrew State Park and stayed in campsite #2. We had a couple of ratty tents and some old military mummy bags I had bought at a yard sale. We cooked over a campfire and after it got dark I built up the fire and they toasted marshmallows.
They were so excited. It was a great weekend.