Let me ask you a question? How are you going to die? When are you going to die?
Three months ago: I woke up, about now and knew I had to visit the hospital for tests’ results? I was fat, happy and healthy (I thought!)
First, the Back Story: When I was fourteen; I had an operation that was called then ‘exploratory surgery‘ they knew there was something; but the technology couldn’t determine from the outside. So, cut into my abdomen (a ten-inch scar remains). They found an ulcerated condition in my small intestines – they removed a foot and a half of my intestines – as well as my ilealcecal valve (between your large and small intestines – regulating flow.) Oh well; might as well take out the appendix too, since we’re here.
Supposed there were thousands of small ulcers (like sometimes you can get in your mouth; NO, not herpes sores). Again, supposedly these were caused by stress. I was a chubby, short, flat top haircut, pimpled, introverted kid who sent most of his time learning the accordian, listening to underground music on the Marconi Experiment on WMMR, dreaming about girls liking me and reading science fiction and collecting comic books. A few baseball cards – but not much active sports – too depressing being the last kid selected, normally with the phrase – ‘not him’.
Nine days, 129 needles, tubes down my throat and some time to reflect – and drugs… I decided to come out of my shell, be myself and not hold anything back. I went to the Doctors and dealt with the acne, my family moved to Cherry Hill, NJ (where nobody knew – not him…), I went on a massive diet, dropped the accordian – still listened to music (it was 1964, man – groovy, far out, sock it to me.) Oh yeah, the crew cut ctually grew out into my nice, blond hair…with blue eyes of course – no glassses!
I started as a geek, became a conservative, later a jive (black leather, cuban heels) rat-stabbers’), smoking, BrylCream, beer, bourbon (we had a bar in the basement). Normally, whatever the girl was that I liked – I adapted…
This became: Doug! Miller, as you have known him for 54 years…
Back to July 5th…At noon (with Melanie) I sat down in the Doctors office and he said:
You have Cancer; Dr: “You have a rare and a very aggressive form of Stage IV, inoperable, non-Hodgins, lymphoma (a blood, based cancer – that has grown in your pelvic are into a five and a half inch tumour that has penetrated your lower intestine and is causing a blockage.” Me: “How long do I have? (looking at Mel’s face) Dr:“Three months.” (Aside: Mels’ face is frozen – you could’ve knocked me off the chair with a feather!) My first thought: I can’t possibly do everything I want in three months…I want to cruise Tahiti, walk on the Great Wall of China, see the Pyramids from the Nile – Bloody Hell. My second thought – Shit, the Cancer has adopted my personality – one-off and aggressive. (Aside: For some reason people confuse my confidence with aggression. I make no apologies for becoming an Alpha – I had to survive and it has make a lot of people millionaires – and me…the problem is I’ve spent all of mine have a great time and sharing with my friends and colleagues along the way.)
I said earlier; I adapted and became what I needed to survive and thrive. I’ve had a great life with wonderful friends and lovers, I could’ve made my fortune with 7-11 at 21 when I turned down a franchise for $1 (could’ve made a mint), became a Radio DJ and broadcaster on WYSP in Philly. (Let me tell you two stories.... I left the station and got a call the day I was fired to substitute for an overnight 2-6 Jock (holiday weekend). The Station was a Burkhardt Abrams programmed, formatted station. I knew that the Program Director and Station Manager were out of town on holiday. I went to my rather extensive LP library and selected all of my favorites and deccided I was gonna show the world what I REALLY could do. (I wish had recorded that show.) I did what I wanted and Damn the Torpedos (Tom Petty had actually recorded it, but the expression has been around since WW II.)
Around 5.30am I get a call on the Request line (rare, at this hour…) A womans voice says: “You’re a son-of-a-B”. “I’m a stripper and I got off work to drive home to Lindenwold.” (where I lived – with my future ex-wife), “I’m now sitting in the car park of Scandia Haemen (where I lived) and I can’t get out of the car, every GD song that you’re playing is brilliant – I don’t have a radio in the house – so, I can’t get out of the car.” ” I just needed to call and say thanks.” We talked; I never saw or talked to her again – but, I owe her a thanks too – it made me realise I was right all along – believe in your gut!
At 5:50 I got another call on the Request line. A man’s voice says: “I’m in Hospital and I’m pretty sick – but I didn’t call to bore you with my situation. But, I’ve got nothing to do but lie in this bed.” (Believe me I know the feeling: 96 hours a week for five weeks, so far…) I’ve been listening to you all night and I just wanted to tell you that you’ve put a smile on my face. Thank you!” WOW! What a way to go out? I’ve made a difference We talked a bit, hung up and my last song was from Jackson Browne – My Opening Farewell!
My next career, while in Uni was as gopher for Midnight Sun Company at the Tower Theater. I got the Revox Reel-to-reel that recorded David Bowies ‘Live at the Tower Theater’, RCA’s third and final Bowie Album (he wasn’t too happy and wanted out. I apologise for the quality of the record – but at least that record remains of a Legendary Artist.) I’ve had Thanksgiving dinner and partied with Peter Gabriel and Genesis, got Black roses for Lou Reed during his Transformer period, got into a drinking competition with Lemmy from Hawkwind and Motorhead (RIP: a BIG mistake….), twins for Jackson Browne, a Birthday Party for Billy Joel, Beer for Bruce (the Boss)and Clarice – the list goes on…Resulting in me promoting my own final show at the Sunrise Music Theater with the Little River Band when they released Diamantina Cocktail.
TBC (to be continued)