Opinion: Column: When Did This Happen?

Opinion: Column: When Did This Happen?

I remember conversations regularly occurring between me and some other person, presumably older (if heard over the phone) or in person if my sight and senses didn't deceive me, where the question was asked to me: "You're probably too young to remember?" concerning any number of subjects. Now, I'm asking the identical question, and I don't think my sight or senses are deceiving me, though they are refracted, so to speak.

Somehow, I'd like to believe that despite the obvious passage of time, I am, to quote Bob Dylan from his song "My Back Pages," included on his "Another Side of Bob Dylan" album released in 1964: "Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

I wish.

I may be wiser and full of perspective, but despite flowery lyrics, I am older – just check the calendar. Father time waits for no man – or woman. As years pass, the pages turn and you simply aren't the person you used to be (or thought you were).

Benjamin Button may have gotten younger (aged in reverse, having been born an old man), but for the rest of us, we may feel that "youth," as they say, "is wasted on the young." Nevertheless, none of us is getting any younger.

Moreover, to quote Charles Franklin: "No one gets out of this life alive." (Although, I swear I remember my late mother attributing that quote to the legendary screen actress, Bette Davis.)

Life goes on is the short version, and through that passage of time, at some point, apparently you're addressed respectively as "Mister" and "Sir," and doors are opened/held, seats are offered and accommodations made. And when I have those random conversations with strangers – to pass that time or even with people with whom you have a familiarity, more and more of those people are younger than I am and I find myself asking/presuming if they know what past event, historical fact, popular culture reference or sports memory, etc., I am even referring to. And as often as not, they don't.

What's odd – or lost on me because I'm loathe to admit it, is that the former "questionee" – yours truly – has become the current questioner – again yours truly. As is becoming abundant clear, where I was once ascending, I am now descending.

This has nothing to do with my last few cancer columns. It has to do with my birth year: 1954. Meaning, as the birthday card jokes on the front cover "I wouldn't say you were old this year" to the inside-of-the-card slam: "Hell, you were old last year."

It just seems/feels that this juxtaposition of the "space-time continuum" ("Star Trek: Voyager") time/age relative to others has happened in a blink (nanosecond) and that blink is a tell. And no matter what I do to counter that impression, I can't stop it. It seems that tell has become a tell all.

And since I'm telling all, dealing with one's own mortality for as long as I have been: Feb. 27, 2009, the official date of my non-small cell lung cancer diagnosis, has certainly had its share of wear and tear, emotionally and physically.

For me – or for any of you regular readers to think that this unexpected journey has not been fraught with before, during and after side effects – and main effects, up and down and all around, is unrealistic at best and delusional at worst. And since I'm rarely delusional except when it comes to the Boston Red Sox, it must be unrealistic.

But maybe being unrealistic is what has taken me nine years and nearly six months past my original diagnosis. If that's the reason, I see no reason to change now, age notwithstanding, or sitting, however the case may be.