Funny thing, after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Signet Ring Appendix Cancer and initially being told I was not treatable and unlikely to live long at age 41, I never again minded a birthday, I never minded getting older. Another year really was something to celebrate. Now I’m a 16 year survivor and after years of CT scans and always being unsure if every year was my last year due to fear of recurrence (I’d read their was an 80% recurrence rate), I no longer fear recurrence. I stopped getting the annual CT scans, couldn’t stand the “scanxiety” anymore, though after 5 years I did have another CT scan and it was fine. I no longer think much about cancer. But I’ve been contemplating my life with and without cancer.
I am now 57, and my kids who were 10 and 11 when I was diagnosed are now grown. I was able to see them finish grade school, Jr. High, High School and college. They are both independent and my youngest is married (I’m not a grandparent yet).
But now I think of getting older differently, how much I’ve experienced, how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve seen change. I’ve been contemplating getting older.
I remember my first computer, an Apple 2 GS (for graphics and sound). It had no hard drive, there was NO Internet, and it had a 5 1/4 inch floppy drive, my disks really were floppy! I remember when the Internet came into being and I connected with my telephone line. I so loved the Internet. I always needed to learn and I could ask any question online, I didn’t have to go to the library anymore to look things up! I’d always been at the library before then.
I remember reading real books, I was (am) an addict. I’d join a book club, get the free 16 books, buy the required three, cancel the club and join a new one. I had a few bookcases full of books and boxes of books in my basement. I didn’t want a Kindle at first, I wanted the book in my lap and pages to turn. Think I got my first one as a gift and I unexpectedly fell in love with it. I have at least 2000 books on my Kindle now and can look up a word I don’t know just by touching it, I used to use a dictionary! I have room in my basement after a Good Will donation. Now when I go backpacking I can take my Kindle with me and not 4 lbs of books (I even used to bring paperbacks and burn them in the campfire after I read them so I wouldn’t have to carry them, we are all about size and ounces).
I remember my first cell phone, I bought it when my kids were very young, and it was about the size of a brick and had a pull out antenna. It had a 30 min. talk time and a full charge lasted 8 hours if I didn’t use the phone. It wasn’t “smart” at all, neither were my next several phones, though they got smaller. Now I have a smart phone, as do my husband and kids. Sometimes when we are all together, everyone is surfing on their phone! I remember when I was a teenager, we only had pay phones. How hard it must have been for my parents when I started driving a car. I don’t think I’ve seen a pay phone in years, my kids have probably never seen one. I’ll have to ask them. I also remember long distance phone calls. I didn’t talk with my mom much for many years after she moved away as we had to pay per minute to talk. I remember writing letters instead. Nowadays I don’t have the address book I used to religiously keep and update, everyone’s phone number is on my contact list and we email or text instead of writing letters now.
I’ve always been into music. I remember 45s and albums growing up, I had a record player. Then there were stereo record players with speakers. I finally got an 8 track stereo which was quickly replaced by cassettes which were replaced by CDs that have now been replaced by USB drives. Who have thought there would be so many changes? That so much music could fit on such a tiny device? I think I have over 1000 songs on my USB drive.
Another part of becoming older is realizing we won’t be here forever. We just got a new roof on our house, a new furnace and a new plastic fence around our back yard. Told my husband we will never have to invest in those things again, they will all outlast us. And 16 years ago I didn’t think I’d outlast my cellphone! Think I’ve outlasted at least 3.
There are some things I think will happen after I am gone that I would like to be here for. Like the driverless cars. I always thought if I was rich, I’d hire a driver. I’d read books in the car while I was being transported everywhere. I think when that comes to be (probably in my kids lifetime), there will be less traffic and fewer accidents, it will be a good thing!
Every once in awhile, I think I might want to have an aging crisis….until I stop to remember how fortunate I am to be aging. We are all fortunate for every day that we get to enjoy the people around us and the things we learn.