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September 2nd, 2014

Reflections On the Day

I have not paid attention to my birthday for over 30 years.

Personally, I think it’s a bit arrogant of me to put any significance on this random day or to even acknowledge it as anything other than just another day. I don’t think this way about other people’s birthdays. I celebrate with them on their special days. It’s just that on my birthday I would just as soon go about my bid’ness like I did yesterday or the day before.

Something has changed about the way I look at birthdays now. I’ve often said that the only reason humans “invented” time was to mark the progress of our inevitable demise or, in my case, proximity to almost passing.

dominosMany people who read my posts already know that, up to this point, I am a cancer survivor. Diagnosed with stage four cancer of the larynx early in 2012, Diane was told by an ear, nose and throat specialist to take me home and pump me full of pain killers until I passed. His best prognosis pointed to less than 8 months. Fortunately Diane wasn’t willing to accept that and she had an oncologist called-in who evened my playing field and began our eight month journey to kill this monster inside of me.

While my previous prognosis of remission has been downgraded to “pre-cancerous,” I was in a lot worse shape when I first went in than I am now. Pffffttt. Pre-cancerous is nothing.

However, the next step in my treatment, which will completely cure me of throat cancer, is having a radical neck dissection. That isn’t scheduled yet, not until there is real evidence of cancer coming back. People can have pre-cancerous conditions for a decade.

Considering all I have survived, I look upon today as not just another day, but a day I proved one doctor wrong and met a doctor who helped save my life. People from time to time ask me about my “fight with cancer.” I don’t fight cancer. My doctors do. All I did was provide the battlefield.

With that said, I have made preparations for this day.

I am now one year deeper into my “oldguyness.” It seems the combination of the numbers six and zero are the standard graduation into oldguyness. I’m keeping a list of things I need to do to get ready for my new old guy status. Many things from last year’s list are still here, but new ones have been added as well:

1. Super glue my left turn signal to the always on position.

2. Carry a note pad everywhere I go because I can forget something important, even fifteen seconds after I think of it.

3. Wear suspenders daily as they are actually needed now and not just a fashion accessory for old guys. It’s either that or wear my pants all the way up to my navel and secure them with a white belt.

4. Obsess over the current weather and weather forecasts in every conversation because that seems to be what old guys start and end every conversation with. I mean, aside from prepositions.

5. Learn to ignore the Horns Of Anger as I insist on staying in the far left lane, travelling two miles an hour under the posted speed limit.

6. Start reading the obituaries because I want to see who I outlived.

7. Keep my glasses attached to a lanyard around my neck because I have already lost two pair and I think I remember specifically where I left them. They are not there or even in the general vicinity of there. They have traveled to the Place of Lost Socks.

8. Develop a non-verbal signal for Diane to repeat what was just said because I cannot hear well these days. That is done to keep from having to say “Whaddidshesay?” all the time.

9. Learn to play dominoes and develop a liking for bingo and shuffle board.

10. Mindlessly flip through the channels while my spouse yells at me that she was watching the previous channel. Reference number eight.

11. Insist on using the phrase “like a broken record” when two thirds of the people who hear me say that have absolutely no idea of what I mean.

12. Pick my nose while driving because I could care less who sees me. Whaddaya think would happen? That some young thing will signal me to pull over and then unleash her passion on me, later saying, “I wanted you because you weren’t picking your nose”?

I’m sure there are other things I need to do. In fact, I know there are…but I didn’t write them down immediately after thinking of them. You can post your old guy/gal list below if you remember to do so. If you don’t remember, I’ll understand. Trust me.

Ken Starks writes and publishes The Blog of Helios, a finalist in our Best FOSS or Linux Blog competition. In addition, he's the person behind the Reglue project, which refurbishes older computers and gives them to disadvantaged school kids in the Austin, Texas area. Follow him on Twitter @Reglue

3 comments to Reflections On the Day

  • Uncle Ed

    Being a few days short of eight years older than Ken, I’m trying to help him become “more mature” with grace and dignity. If it seems to work for him, I may try it, myself.

    When you go to the bathroom, be sure you remember why. If you get past that, try to avoid the problems of can’t start, can’t stop, and can’t wait.


  • amenditman

    #4 – I think the weather is important to oldguys because it can be the difference between hurting a lot and hurting really a lot.

    Kind of like a today’s a good day because I only have these….
    Today’s a bad day because I have all the normal stuff, plus…

  • Colonel Panik

    Ken, there’s just two things to remember when you get old.