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man in his can listening to music flying over train trucks

Muscle Car: The Moments I’ll Never Forget

There’s an intersection I cross nearly every day without thinking much about it. But this particular day the song 25 or 624 by Chicago came on and I was shot back 49 years.

It was the summer of 1970. I’d just bought my ’68 Camaro for $3000 (money was worth more back then). I was sitting in my bucket seat, one hand on the wheel the other on the chrome shifter (3 on the floor instead of 4), and flying over the tracks, probably faster than I should have, when that song came on.

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but that felt great. I mean hey, driving the best car Chevrolet ever made, its 327 V-8 leaping forward at every touch of the throttle, and popping the clutch into third, all at the very moment Chicago’s best rocker comes on the radio. You can’t beat that.

On that day, in that car, crossing those tracks, it felt like I owned the world in my white with black vinyl roof, four-barrel carb, muscle car––a real chick magnet.

So why bring this all up on a blood cancer site?

There are moments in my life I’ll never forget.

My first dance with a sixteen-year-old, mini-skirted beauty who later became my wife.

That night at the drive-in theater when we didn’t watch the movie.

Graduation night when we sat in my boat eating apple pie and watched the headlights of the first early morning car drive around the bay.

Our wedding day.

The moment I became a father.

And the day Chicago celebrated my first flight in the Camaro.

Living with cancer is a strange thing

Even when we’re not directly thinking about cancer, there is a dull acceptance pulling at our minds.

So we need to tap into those special moments, the tapestry of all the good that filled our lives. Those times can take us away from our negative thoughts and launch us into a world where we were healthy and free.

I have no idea why we’re on this planet––why we live or why we die. I only know that as we walk along this short path we call life, we need only glance back to find ourselves. We are the fruit of everything we’ve done, all that we’ve experienced. We are not just cancer patients.

I am not defined by my leukemia. Cancer is not who I am. Everything I’ve experienced over the last 67 years, good and bad, that’s who I am. That eighteen-year-old boy driving his first car is still inside me and I like him. He has seen me through a lot today.

Do you have touchstones? Memories you use to bring a laugh or smile? Where do you go to escape? What music pulls you back to the past? The ‘60s, ‘70s, 80’s, and 90’s all had great music. Every decade has its darkness but also its greatness.

What are your stories? Let me know in the comment section below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • dillyross
    1 day ago

    Hi Jim
    Sure does leave a big blip on our landscape of life…
    For now I’m cruising along avoiding any pot holes as I go making new memories with my loved ones. Life is good and when its time I have arranged in advance that I will close my eyes and wake up in Heaven.
    Love and light to you.

  • ocean
    1 day ago

    Yeah u know what you mean as far as a caddy being comfortable had lots of room for all my friends and all my shopping bags and use to blast the radio on New Year’s Eve we’d all sit in there and party it was a grand old time

  • ocean
    5 days ago

    I can relate to your story I had a 70 Cadillac Sedan deville I loved that old car that car my uncle bought from a lawyer back in the day and then my parents had it then I got it and I would go cruising with my friends I was the first of my friends to get my license and a car it was old and beat up but hey the wheels were turning it was late 80s when it handed down to me lots of good memories in that car then years later in 2013 I got leukemia it wasn’t expected but it was in my body beating it up never ever have I thought that cancer would invade my body like that but it did I was never sick never in the hospital always healthy very active and now I live with leukemia I am in remission but I still live it like it never left

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 days ago

    @ocean I’m glad to hear you’re in remission. These times can be good too just like when you had your Caddy. My folks had a Cadillac Sedan too. I remember taking my girlfriend to the drive-in theater in it. Lots of comfortable room in those things… If you know what I mean. 😉

  • Ronni Gordon moderator
    5 days ago

    This is a beautiful post. So evocative and a good reminder about staying connected to the past BC (before cancer).

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 days ago

    @ronnigordon Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s seems the older I get, the more my past matters to me.

  • dillyross
    6 days ago

    Beautiful read. Thanks for reminding me I am so much more than my mm.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 days ago

    @dillyross Though I don’t know you personally, I’ll bet you have a lot of good memories. Those are the sum total of your life. This stupid cancer stuff is just a blip on the radar. Well, a sort of big blip maybe, but only one thing. You really are more than your cancer.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    6 days ago

    @jim-smith wonderful post. I love music and have even been a dj for many years – I just recently quit. I often think of songs that go along with whatever I experience that day and I love it. Some people think in colors – I think in music. It’s my own little secret as others would probably think I’m crazy. Thank you for sharing – we are definitely so much more than a victim of cancer!

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 days ago

    @annharper You’re definitely not crazy. So many of my memories are tied to music. You were a DJ? The kind that plays at parties, or a radio DJ?

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 days ago

    @jim-smith The kind that plays at parties. I wish I was a radio dj.

  • Connie Connely
    6 days ago

    I love this story! I get it. I had a yellow 1976 Mustang that I loved. I drove it my last two years in college and my first seven years teaching. Students would say, “Miss Connely has a cool car!” I

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 days ago

    @cconnely With a car like that you were probably the coolest teacher in the school. Maybe the song “Mustang Sally” should have been “Mustang Connie”!

  • Connie Connely
    2 days ago

    Yes, I taught almost 40 years, so I morphed from Miss Peach into Miss Grundy! LOL

  • jldavis
    6 days ago

    Loved your story. We’re the same age – mine was a 67 Camaro, same engine but automatic transmission. And I will admit, my father paid for it. The car is still in the family, it survived my father, me, my siblings, and a collision with a black cow at night.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 days ago

    @jldavis Cool. In my humble opinion, Camaro’s were the best cars on the road back then. I’m glad you still have it in the family. I had to sell mine when our son was born. Never quite forgave him for that, LOL.

  • Carole McCue
    6 days ago

    Great article Jim.
    Loved my 60’s music.
    Terrific memories of HS, nursing school, special patients I cared for,
    My wedding, birth of my sons. These memories and the new ones I am creating as a cancer survivor sustain me and give me comfort🙏🏻

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 days ago

    @cmccue It sounds like you have had, and are having, a full, blessed life. My good friend was the head nurse at an old-folks home. It was a lot of work but she too spoke of special patients she enjoyed.

  • Carole McCue
    1 day ago

    Hi Jim,
    Yes my patient memories are so special❤️

  • Ramae Hamrin moderator
    7 days ago

    Wonderful, @jim-smith! I enjoyed how you described your car and that era. I was right there with you, even though I was just born then! I loved to run and spent many years racing 5K’s and 10K’s. I was a bookworm and spent much of my younger years studying, working, and raising children. So for me, now is the time to learn about what I really like and how I want to spend my time. Oh, and I drove a VW diesel rabbit! 😀

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    2 days ago

    @rhamrin I bet those times running have good memories for you too. I ran a lot when I was younger; nothing official, just jogging down country roads. I remember one time experiencing that “Runner’s High” you hear about. Something kicked in and I felt like I could keep on going forever. I’m glad to see you are taking the time to discover what you want for your life now. Good luck, bookworm, I’m sure you’ll find your what you want.

  • Susan Gonsalves moderator
    2 weeks ago

    @jim-smith Looking back at memories is an escape from the reality of living with incurable blood cancer.
    25 to 624…that song!! I play the clarinet (even now) but I first played that song in middle school band and it was always a crowd pleaser. So I can reflect back on fun performances and the friends I made back then, some of whom I’m still in touch with. Thanks for reminding us that our former selves are still in there. I believe that truly but on difficult days, for me, she is hard to find.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    1 day ago

    @susanmae I know what you mean, but she is always there, deep inside, hidden away just waiting for you to find her again. I sometimes lose track of myself too, but the memories always bring me back. So you play the clarinet? Very cool, I’m glad you still play. Music, especially playing an instrument, is very spiritually healing.

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