The last time I saw my only brother, he was spitting mad, but refused to discuss it; the ‘slight’ was something not within my control. Our mother tried to reconcile us, to no avail, and so, I went my way and he went his. He died two years later, the bitterness still lingering.
The last time I saw my father, I saw a broken old man and not the terrorist that haunts my youth. I sat on his dusty couch while he talked about people I vaguely remembered or never knew, and his drunken caretaker harangued me about Jesus. A storm was moving in and the forecast was for ice, so I took that as my cue and left a day early. We speak on the phone every few months, whenever his heart acts up, and even though we never have anything to say, we still try to say it.
The last time I saw my grandfather was a perfect summer day. We fished for bluegills in a small lake of black water on land he used to own. I don’t remember what we spoke of and it hardly matters. After, we picked blueberries; I baked two pies and brought most of the fish home on the plane, frozen in a small cooler.
The last time I saw my mother, she was doing well despite her 90 years. We speak often and I’m careful that a cross word never passes between us, in case it is our last.