The 12 clowns had just climbed out of the tiny VW Beetle and the crowd of screaming kids yelled out for more. I looked at the time – it was exactly 4:58 AM and Holly was curled up at the foot of the bed. I turned off the television and excitedly took my first step on Route 66 – as a sixty-sixer. But I almost fell in the hallway as Holly raced past me to get to the patio door – a fiercely competitive race that I endure several times a day.
Yes, January 8th was my birthday but as usual, I had nothing planned for the day. I had left a couple of messages with Norm to see if he wanted to meet for coffee at the Whitby Coffee Shop at the beach in White Rock but hadn’t heard back from him yet.
I was having my coffee and suddenly remembered that January 8th was also David Bowie’s birthday and that he was releasing a new album today (which I had pre-ordered from iTunes last Summer). The album was called ‘Black Star’ – which sounded kind of ‘mystical’, but it was probably just a sign that David was re-inventing himself – yet again!
I logged on to iTunes and there it was – the ‘Blackstar’ cd by David Bowie. I began listening to each of the songs, and it wasn’t long before realizing that this was an album about death. I posted a few of the tunes here on my blog page – which seemed kind of fitting – Danny the birthday boy listening to David the birthday boy’s new album. But I was puzzled as to why he was writing about such a dark topic – on our birthday.
I quickly got dressed and drove to the beach. I still hadn’t heard back from Norm but figured that I would have a coffee and check my emails on my laptop. We usually met at 8:30 in the morning and it was already 8:45 when I arrived at the coffee shop. I scanned the surroundings for him, but the place was almost empty. I turned on my laptop and started to check messages, while listening to Blackstar.
At 9:30 I was just starting to pack up my laptop when I suddenly noticed Norm standing in front of my table. We hugged and wished each other Happy New Year. Norm and Dorean had been on Vancouver Island for both Christmas and Norm’s birthday (which was on Christmas Eve). And as we hugged, I asked him if his that his birthday gift had also to be his Christmas gift – because the dates were so close. But I never cared much about getting presents – it’s always been something I’ve felt uncomfortable with and would prefer to be the ‘giver.’ I don’t know why but it always feels better to give than it does to receive something. And besides, my only birthday wish these days is to have another birthday next year.
Norm and I had our coffees, and he brought me up-to-date on the Cancer Centre. He told me that a new volunteer had already replaced me and that many people missed seeing me. We walked each other to the parking lot and said our goodbyes. I told Norm that the day was special because it was Elvis Presley’s, David Bowie’s and my birthday. The thought of being mentioned in the same sentence as those famous men made us both laugh. But I did share something in common with both – a love of music.
So when I awoke two days later to the news that David Bowie had just passed away – after an 18 month battle with Cancer – I just couldn’t believe it. He was just 69 years old! I later learned that he had written all of the material on the album after he found out that he had Cancer and that he wanted the cd released on his birthday.
‘What a fitting way to leave this life’ I thought. But the news of his passing saddened me. Hopefully, he has joined Elvis and George Harrison on their heavenly tour – somewhere out there on the Astral Plane.
Today, I return to the Cancer Centre for an appointment with my radiation oncologist. It will be the first stop on my journey along Route 66. Destination: Route 67.
Maybe we’ll pass each other along the way.
Dedicated to Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust, Captain Tom, and of course, cancer patients.