Not long after my grandson turned 10, he had one of those ’10 year-old moments’ that made me feel, well, like crap. I don’t remember the details, only that as he left to go home (still pouting, of course) I told him to never take anything for granted and how bad he would feel if I wasn’t here the next day. Later that night he called — in tears — and apologized for his behavior earlier that day and that he understood what I had said. Mind you it wasn’t the easiest thing for a boy his age to understand. I realized I may have been a little harsh with the way I said it, but I meant every word of the message I was trying to convey.
I thought back to the day I saw nana (my grandmother) for the very last time. Nana was living in Virginia with my parents, having sold her home in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania when it was evident she no longer was able to live alone and care for herself. Her house at 1226 Haycreek Road was the only home I ever knew her to live in. While I was growing up, every day I spent in Birdsboro was like Christmas, simply because of her.
In March of 1999 I flew to Virginia to visit my parents and nana as well as run the Shamrock Marathon, one of my favorite races. That year was special because I ran it in the blue and white pair of adidas Adios running shoes nana had given me for Christmas three months earlier. After the race, as I was leaving for the airport I went to nana’s room and told her how much I appreciated her gift and that I would wear them again in April when I ran the Boston Marathon. It brought a smile to her face that I can vividly remember to this day.
The following month I ran one of my fastest times ever at Boston. As soon as I could get to a telephone after crossing the finish line I called my mom to tell her how I’d done and asked her to relay the information to nana because I promised to let her know as soon as I could.
A few seconds after I’d told mom the good news she gave me some news of her own, except hers wasn’t good. Nana had passed away over the weekend (the marathon was on a Monday). Mom thought it best that she wait until the marathon was over to give me the news because she knew how much running well in my adidas Adios meant to nana and I.
On the day of nana’s funeral I couldn’t find it in me to look at her lying in her coffin. Instead I chose to remember the smile on her face from a month earlier when I told her how much I loved her and promised to make her proud. The day I said goodbye to her for the last time.
For the people that mean the most to you, that’s how all goodbyes should be.
You just never know when it might be the last one.

Scott Ludwig lives, runs, and writes in Senoia.  His latest book, “Southern Charm: Columns from a small town Georgia newspaper,” as well as the rest of his books, can be found on his author page on Amazon. He can be reached at