For my last birthday, I made a donation to the Hawaiian Humane Society.
I’d adopted a dog in May and wanted to honor both her and the HHS mission.
For my last birthday – that’s an odd thing to say.
Neither have my doctors predicted my demise prior to my next birthday,
nor have I in some borderline divine and mystical way foreseen death approaching apace.
Condolence me no condolences yet.
To say that you did thus and such on or for your last birthday
is so commonplace a way of speaking that the suggestion of impending death
never occurs to the hearer when someone says it accordingly.
If the circumstances were set in a different way,
if, say, I had heard from my doctors that I’d no more than a few months left,
the meaning of the statement would be clear:
“For my final birthday, I made a donation,” would be a huge help.
Even clearer: “For the final birthday before dying, I made a donation to the HHS.”
Now that would be crystal.
Depressing, ironically, because you’d be happy for the animals, but sad for me dying – I’d hope.
If I were to apprise my mortal enemy that I’d made said donation for my terminal birthday,
he might chortle triumphantly at the prospect of the proximity of my passing.
When I say “last,” I hope anyone wondering might potentially feel some sorrow.
For those pensive friends I’d follow up with something like “Gotcha!”,
explain I meant my most recent birthday, not my concluding one.
They’d groan, ask why did I always say things like that to get their hopes up.
And I’d pray, of course, I didn’t surprise them, and myself,
by not for some reason surviving to see my next birthday.