Forgive me if this sounds familiar. But some things have happened lately and some familiar thoughts are racing through my mind. That, and I really used to make some pretty good posts and I’m hoping to get back into it.
I found out the other day that a guy with whom I graduated from high school died of cancer. Notice I don’t call him a “friend”. We were school friends, I guess. That is to say that we spoke to one another. We never really hung out or anything. Then, graduation happened and I haven’t seen him since. And of course, high school ended 25 years ago. This guy isn’t the first person I graduated with who has died, but it still hit me surprisingly hard; at least, it got me thinking about my own mortality once again. I think a lot of these feelings are coming to light since plans are in the works for my 25 year high school reunion. (For info on my 20 year reunion, click here).
At times like this, whenever I’m forced to think about my own mortality, I think of Captain Picard’s line from Star Trek: Generations: “I’ve become aware that there are fewer days ahead than there are behind…”
The Old Man died at 67. I’m about 60 days shy of 43. If I am to die at the same age as he did, that means I’ve got about 24 years left on this rock. And unless I live to be 85, there really are fewer days ahead of me than there are behind me.
I’m doing what I can to make myself a better person. The List of Rob was a huge step in that direction. I’m actually crossing some things off of that list as accomplish them.
“But time makes you bolder // Even children get older // And I’m getting older too”
Wednesday night, The Auteur & I attended the Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins concert when they made their stop in our area. I haven’t seen either of these artists live in over twenty years (I’m not even 100% sure I’ve ever seen Manson live before) but the fact is, concerts simply aren’t as fun as they used to be. There are probably several good reasons for this, but there is one that I keep returning to:
We are all getting older.
I’m 41. According to wikipedia, Marilyn Manson is 46 and Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan is 48. I don’t know about those guys, but sometimes I feel a little too old to be in the crowd at a rock concert. to me, the typical concert-going crowd is in their late teens or early twenties and has the disposable income to spend as many concerts as they can attend- as I once did. Those days are certainly behind me. Granted, I wasn;t the oldest person there. There were people there who looked older than me, as well as other who definitely were older than me, but they’re just kinda pathetic.
Also, at the risk of sounding prudish, there’s a lot of smoking of tobacco – and other indulgences – that goes on at most shows. I’ve never smoked. The Old Man smoked for as long as I can remember; so it never fazed me much growing up. But I really have no patience and no tolerance for it anymore. The alcohol doesn’t really faze me, but then i do still like the occasional beer or three. In fact, the older I get, the more I appreciate the art of tailgating.
I don’t feel like there’s as much energy at these shows as there once was. Again, I think this is because the bands are older, and therefore the crowd is older accordingly. Older crowds don’t sing along nearly as much. They don’t pump there fist (or throw up devil horns). They don’t head-bang and they sure as hell don’t tear up the lawn at an outdoor amphitheater and throw it toward the stage.The truth is, I have changed, the musicians have changed and the crowd has changed somewhat – although not enough for me to feel comfortable among them anymore.
This reminds me of older athletes who try to come out of retirement and return to their respective game. Sometimes they still think they’ve got something left in the proverbial tank. Other times, it’s because they love the game and don’t want or know how to do anything else. Usually when they do, they realize that either their desire to play – or their ability to play – are gone. That’s where I feel I’m at with this whole post.
At least until they next time one of my favorite acts comes to town and I go on this rant again.
I haven’t written much lately. Frankly, I haven’t had a lot to say. But the other day, I was in a weird funk; something I’ve written about before but has weighed heavily on my mind:
I turned 41 about a-week-and-a-half ago. I lost The Old Man two-and-a-half-months ago. Needless to say, it has me thinking about my own mortality. A LOT lately.
I am The Human Bomb.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that I am the World War II era comic book character, or his modern day successor. But like Captain Picard says in “Star Trek: Generations” I’ve come to realize that I most likely have fewer days ahead of me than I have behind me. And that sucks.
The Old Man was 67 when he died. That means if I live no longer than he did, I have about 26 years left on this Earth. That scares the hell out of me.
I’m not dying or anything. Hell, I’m not even sick. I feel better than I have in a long time. Aside from the time I was working out a couple years ago, I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life. The truth is, I feel like I’m just getting started. Divorce is the great reset in 21st century American society and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. i want A LOT more than 26 more years with The Auteur and the family that we’re building together. There’s just so much I still want to do in this world.
I’m reluctant to use the expression “mid-life crisis”. I’m not about to get a sports car. I’m sure as Hell not about to leave my family. But maybe it’s time I start on my Bucket List and crossing things off of it.
Last week, The Auteur told me that it looked like my hair was starting to thin on the top of my head. I pulled out a mirror and saw exactly what she was talking about.
Losing my hair.
This is not going to sit well with me. I will shave my head before I get a bald spot. My hairline has managed to outlive those of my closest friends and I refuse to allow it to wither away now. A Scorched Earth Policy, indeed.
I mean, it’s bad enough that I notice myself gradually getting nearsighted…
THE FOLLOWING POST WAS WRITTEN 1.14.15
The Old Man had another surgery yesterday. The cancer has spread. The tumor in his shoulder has gotten bigger. There were also tumors in his femurs, which he had replaced with titanium rods yesterday.
I learned more about bone cancer through my dog, Worf, than I ever hoped to need to know. Phred told me Sunday that if the Old Man didn’t get the surgery, there was a good chance that he could have broken both his femurs – had he tried to walk.
This is getting very personal – this cancer thing and me. This disease tried to take my mom from me. Now it’s going after my dad and it looks like it’s going to get the job done. But not without one hell of a fight from The Old Man…
I want the Old Man to come home again. I want him to meet my unborn child. I want to take him to one more Tiger game. I want The Kid to be able to see him again. He is too young to lose both grandfathers.
One More Day
When staring in the face if death, I think its normal to think of these things. I can only imagine what’s going through The Old man’s mind during all of this.
Wednesday night was New Year’s Eve and for some reason, I was in no mood to party whatsoever. I wasn’t angry or anything; I was just a little tired and didn’t feel like I was going to miss anything by not celebrating. I’m sure this feeling in part was due to the fact that The Auteur has been sick off and on over the last several days. As it turns out, 1B had some friends over for the night, so The Auteur and I still ended up ringing in 2015 with the kids after all.
Those feelings serve to me as one of those reminders that I really am getting old. Not in any negative sense, mind you; it’s just that partying doesn’t seem as important to me as it once did. Of course, given the fact that The Auteur and I are having a baby, it’s not like she could have gotten festive – i.e. drunk – even if she really wanted to. Partying just really wasn’t that important to me this year. I was much more content just spending a quiet night with The Auteur.
Perhaps that’s not a sign of getting old as much as it is a sign of maturing.
He has been in the hospital now for 22 days. Last night, my brother had him sign some paper work that explicitly expresses his wishes for medical treatment, should be become really sick. A couple weeks ago, The Auteur and I were asked to be witnesses when a patient across the hall had to fill out the same paperwork.
What goes around comes round, I guess.
Coming to the hospital, it hit me – hard.
I’m going to lose my father. Probably sooner rather than later.
It’s been all but confirmed: he has cancer in his liver, his lung, his pancreas and on his bones. I’m assuming we’ll get an official confirmation in about 8 1/2 hours when we meet with his doctors.
I’m not ready to lose him, but I can’t stand seeing him in this kind of pain. The drugs he’s on are making him speak in non-sense; see things that aren’t there. Now, he’s talking about things from when he was a kid. If I didn’t know better, I would suspect that it had spread to his brain; or that maybe he has Alzheimer’s.
The son becomes that father and the father becomes the son.
In the last two weeks, I have watched him transform in sickly, old man. It’s a pretty surreal transformation to witness when there’s still the spirit of a five-year-old within you who is convinced that your Dad is the strongest person in the world.
I’m spending the night in the hospital room with him. The overnight nurse suggested that someone stay – partially because of the way the drugs affect him; and partially because of his overall condition. As eerie as this vigil feels, I have the feeling I may be very glad I agreed to stay with him tonight.
Last week, the Auteur and I threw a birthday party for 1B. Aside from the aforementioned birthday, this day marked a special occasion in that it was the first time that mine and The Auteur’s parents met each other. It went great, probably better than we should have expected. I don’t necessarily see them hanging out together or anything, but they were more than cordial and more than polite with each other: They were friendly with each other.
It’s strange because I wasn’t nearly nervous or excited about it as I expected to be. A lot of that was due to the fact that the Auteur and I were both running around like proverbial chickens with our heads cut off – trying to get everything ready in the 36 plus hours leading up to the party and we were tired. I also think a lot of it is due to the fact that – let’s face it, were not 20 anymore – our parents simply aren’t as big of a factor in our lives as they were when we were younger.
Something is happening to me. Lately, I feel like I’m not nearly as sentimental about some thing as I once was. I’ve always been a softie, but that’s definitely changing in some aspects of my life. Am I getting old? Cynical?
Hell, even with this blog. There was a time when I would have been writing about the party/our parents meeting that night or the next day. I just don’t do that anymore.
In other news, I got a call Thursday from the assistant principal at a high school in Georgia. This is the same district that I met with at a job fair back in April. I’ve been trying real hard not to put all my eggs into that proverbial basket. In fact, I pretty much gave up hope on them when they started school earlier this month. But that’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years: When I stop obsessing over something, it usually ends up falling into my lap. More on that as it develops.
Earlier this week, I saw Heaven is For Real. I didn’t really plan on seeing it – it was The Auteur and 1B’s suggestion- but I think I might have gotten even just as into the movie than either of them did.
The movie and the novel from which it was adapted are based on a true story. Here’s the story in a nutshell: Greg Kinnear plays Todd Burpo a minister whose son Colton claims to have visited Heaven after falling ill. Colton’s experience becomes the talk of the town forcing Burpo and eventually the town folk to examine their own faith. Like any good art, this movie got me thinking; not in the sense that it redefined or reaffirmed my spiritual faith, but it got me thinking about faith and spirituality again.
Let me be absolutely clear: I am not a terribly religious man, but I do consider myself spiritual at times. I am not a fan of organized religion. When you stop and think about the whole concept of organized religion, the entire church hierarchy was established because people were generally illiterate and needed The Bible interpreted for them.
I used to think that I don’t need anyone to explain The Bible to me. I’m educated, I’m a teacher. I can interpret The Bible for myself, I thought. While I was watching this movie, I realized how hypocritical that attitude is for me to have as a teacher. People defer to me to teach their children because of my training. People see me as something of an authority when it comes to education. The least I can do is have the same respect for clergymen and clergywomen.
I think what really got my goat about this movie – and I can’t speak for the book or the true story – was the attitude that the members of Burpo’s church have about young Colton’s experience. One would expect even the most religious person to have a healthy dose of skepticism upon hearing about a trip to Heaven. However most of the community had the attitude of “C’mon Todd, you don’t really believe in all this Heaven stuff do you?” The film does a good job of demonstrating logical, rational explanations for Colton’s experience; but the churchgoers seem to reject Colton’s experience outright. A question I think the director should have addressed is when it really comes down to it, how much do you believe in that which you claim to hold so dear?
This entry isn’t a pro-Christian piece, or even a pro religion piece of any sort. But the fact is humans established religion(s) to explain those things that we can’t really explain. Why are we here? What is purpose in this world? What happens when life ends? These are all questions that religions are established and the answers require – no pun intended – a leap of faith. There’s no scientific or rational evidence to back up an religious doctrine but that’s the point. You trust in something when you don’t have all the answers. That’s something the film makers should have preached to the audience.