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Opinion: Hello, I Must Be Going…

By Steven Stajich

Mortality: Never just the completion of our

temporality, but also everything that can come

before.

It felt a little bit like a brick had been thrown

through a window last week when pop star and

singer David Cassidy revealed that he was suf-
fering with dementia. Not that Cassidy loomed

in any special way in my own life. Even in his

prime, Cassidy and the Partridge Family and

the sunny ‘rock’ songs that issued forth from

their frothy TV confection were anathema to

those of us who thought the Rolling Stones

had it right with “Sympathy for the Devil.”

The Partridge Family was what rock/pop mu-
sic would have been had it all somehow been

generated by Nixon’s daughters Trisha and

Julie.

But I grew-up with two sisters, so “The Par-
tridge Family” show was on our TV screen

and female crushes on David Cassidy ensued.

Within the confines of that TV series, I sup-
pose Cassidy was the one that struck you as

being most in charge right after uber-mom

Shirley Jones.

Having come out regarding his dementia to

People Magazine earlier this week, Cassidy

likely realized that now his suffering would

be, at least a little bit, shared by the public the

way musician Glen Campbell’s Alzheimer’s

diagnosis was beginning in 2011. While both

events feel like a view into darkness, there is

always the hopeful upside that going pubic

increases awareness and speeds along needed

research on diseases of mind and memory that

are something of an unspoken fear within the

ranks of my own generation.

Those with family or friends suffering with

Alzheimer’s don’t need me to confirm the hor-
ror of it. When those you love begin to depart

by way of not recognizing their loved ones or

themselves, you are struck not only with the

sometimes grotesque unfairness of life but

with how little we sometimes appreciate the

delicate balance of our fragile working body

systems. Like the things that can be taken

away by a tiny blood clot following a stroke.

But back to that brick. We’ve been so full of

vinegar lately because of the elections and the

entropy within the walls of the White House

that something like David Cassidy’s woes

tends to bring us back to earth again. Yes,

we’re currently in a struggle on a national lev-
el that has global implications, and “the whole

world is watching” as demonstrators used to

chant in the 1960s during a time of somewhat

parallel dissent and upheaval. We’re even back

out on the streets as many of us were then.

But much as the marching and the outrage

can be justified, we should never lose our

sense of the moment-to-moment theater of life

itself. There may be a certain sort of romance

to the various forms our resistance is taking.

There is little that is romantic about the cells in

a human brain deteriorating.

“Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell was nev-
er intended by Ms. Mitchell or her record com-
pany to be an inspirational guide to more fully

appreciating life. But the simple line, “You

don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” is

a standout in a generational soundtrack that

now seems to resonate with almost every piece

of news and information. Oil pipes violating

sacred lands and spilling waste where before

there was nature. A shortage of water, then

not enough dam to contain too much water. A

graceful First Family replaced by shiny lunk-
heads who look at the crises of the world and

think, “I better Tweet about Ivanka’s clothing

line…”

We are experiencing a time when we can

share battle stories, if you will, and be under-
stood by our peers. But these terrible wars rag-
ing in the human body can sometimes only be

fully known when you’ve been there with the

sufferer… or it’s happening to you.

And yet we have forever understood the

deal: That life is not only fragile but short,

even as we extend it with diet and exercise

and medical breakthroughs. In digging for

meaning in David Cassidy’s announcement

I came across the writing of Marty Rubin, a

South Florida gay activist, author, and jour-
nalist. Mr. Rubin once wrote, “Real dishes

break. That’s how you know they’re real.”

He might have been referencing his struggle

with AIDS that ended in 1994. But not be-
fore he also wrote this: “I don’t want to be

the one who says that life is beautiful. I want

to be the one who feels it.”

Stajich

 

 

in Opinion
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