Closing Range

Out of Tomorrows

There comes a point in life where we should live our todays so well, it won’t matter when we’re out of tomorrows

By Dave Skinner

I started this column about six months ago, shortly after the death of Dave Cano, an admired friend.

Ironically, I had to set it aside when I was first waylaid by a stroke (hopefully my last), then just two days later learned the guy who poured my first legal beer, Greg Bauska, had suffered a much-worse, eventually-fatal stroke in Hawaii. Now comes news that Jerry Meerkatz died in a motorcycle crash barely seven weeks after his retirement.

So, is there a pattern? All three overlapped my years at Flathead High to varying degrees, fitting squarely in the “Flathead Braves done good” category otherwise. If you didn’t know them personally, you certainly knew of them.

Of the three, I knew Dave Cano “best,” well enough that we’d gently rag on each other without fail. He married well, with three great kids and, gasp, grandchildren! Like me, he was an aviation nut. Unlike me, he was a genuine craftsman – expensive, kinda slow, but always worth it.

His spare time was taken up by high-level family-and-friends hunting, sledding and fishing adventures worthy of any sporting TV show.

Besides great talents, Dave had a great heart. When my jet-pilot Dad wanted a private hangar session with Ray Thompson’s warbird toys, all I had to do was ask. Dave was all over it (Ray was, too), first class all the way.

And so on … when Cano bagged his monster Montana moose of a lifetime last fall, members of the “Cano grape-vine” were left wondering what the heck he’d get into next. Well, Dave got into an avalanche down in the Swan. Gone … just like that, he’d run out of tomorrows.

Needless to say, Dave’s memorial service was packed. I’m sure it was the same for both Greg and Jerry.

We all have our bucket lists, things we dream about doing, places we dream of seeing, and people we want to share those dreams with. Dreams made reality become the memories that keep us (and ours) company in a long, comfortable dotage, right?

Dave Cano’s memorial was a doozy of memories. He’d had a bunch of buckets, which he, his family and friends had absolutely crammed full. There were pictures and stories to prove it all – memories everyone shared together one final time. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling deeply sad, but also genuinely proud and happy. Dave had stuffed such a big, intense life into the time he had.

Sure enough, after the emotions drained off a bit, I got to pondering the buckets I’d filled (no regrets there) and others ready, but empty. Could I be running out of tomorrows? Would it be wiser to follow Dave’s example while I still could, just forget tomorrow and focus on today? Duh … so I started working on this column.

The more I thought, the more excited I felt, so excited I made a phone call to the Ducati dealership in Bellingham. I’d gone there several times over the years, drooling over all that noisy, sexy Italian goodness. Time to throw down and get going, bambino! “Yeah, we’ve got a 900SS with six thousand miles on it … guy who owned it was a doctor.”

The very next evening, I stroked. Can you say bad omen?

Since then, I’ve blown through six months of tomorrows and beaucoup thousands (enough for at least five doc-tor Ducatis) trying to get a handle on when I’ll run out of tomorrows – much sooner than I ever imagined. Still, whatever I’ve still got coming remains a chance to fill my suddenly-smaller buckets at least partway – and that beats the alternative, at least until, yep, tomorrow.

How about you? If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent your life making plans, delaying gratification, staunchly resisting the urge to splurge, wondering if you’d socked away enough for that dotage. But no matter how careful we are, none of us really know when we’re out of tomorrows. Even if you believe in God, he’s not telling, nor does he issue any warranty.

There comes a point in life where we should live our todays so well, it won’t matter when we’re out of tomorrows.

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