I turned 60 this month. 60!!! Or as I came to call it: “F-ing 60!”
When I say it out loud, I can’t believe it. For my entire life, I thought 60 meant old. Very old. Like, it’s just about over, old.
I remember crying and begging my mom and dad at seven-years-old to sneak me into little league — which, they did. It feels like it was just yesterday that I had to make a decision at the kitchen table to not attend my junior year of high school due to a bone disease.
Hell, it couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes ago—yet it was 42 yrs ago—that Bobby Knight smacked me on the side of the head and asked, “So, Dan, are you coming to play basketball here at IU or what?”
And 14 years of doing a radio show? Kenny Chesney ain’t lying when he sings, “Don’t Blink.”
How to properly celebrate a milestone birthday
The truth is that I was never really depressed about turning 60. I guess you could say I was non-committal. My beautiful wife, Leigh, and awesome kids kept saying, “What are we doing for your 60th?!”
I had no answers. Let’s go to Vegas? Nah! Golf trip to Ireland? Nah! I had nothing, literally not a thing.
Finally, just to get my people off my ass, I agreed to a get-together at my house. No cake, no singing. Just an untitled party that, frankly, I dreaded. When I have a party at my house I get consumed with making certain everyone has a good time.
If someone looks bored, I must find a way to entertain them. If someone looks out of place, I gotta fix it. It’s friggin’ exhausting. Leigh always tells me, “Everyone is fine, they can enjoy themselves without you.”
To my own detriment, I fail to see how that’s possible. I must ensure a good time. The truth is my favorite part of parties at my house is when people leave.
But I’m here to tell you that something weird happened on my way to 60. Something glorious.
Perspective can change quickly
The weekend before my birthday, my brother Tom—my idol, mentor and best friend—and I played together in a fantastic golf tournament in our home town. As kids, we caddied at this course.
The event is called a “Calcutta.” For those unfamiliar with Calcuttas, you must understand that they involve a ton of cash and every shot matters … a lot. At my age, there aren’t many opportunities to intensely compete. Competition that makes me nervous? Oh hell yeah!
That night, my sister Jackie and her husband, Bobby, had a family get-together. It included my mom and my brother. That’s when something glorious happened.
Sitting with my family in my sister’s living room and watching the agony of someone trying to slam a shot of Scotch, I realized how happy I was just to be there. Holy hell, turning 60 may not be so bad!
Life comes at you fast
A week later — the day before the party — I’m feeling gooooooood.
My wife and my mother-in-law had been working on this party for three weeks. Cleaning, fixing, and planning; nothing was left to chance. It dawned on me that these people love me enough to do this for me.
Am I worthy? Not if you read Twitter and some dying local papers in Indy. Ha! Screw ’em.
Back to feeling gooooood! I wasn’t without duties ahead of my own party. My instructions: take out and replace all the garbage bags in the house. I’m on it.
It was then, walking down a flight of stairs carrying a bunch of garbage bags, that it happened. 60 happened. I missed the last step.
“DOWN GOES DAKICH!”
It was a scene. Stuff was flying. I nosedive onto the concrete, banging my hands, face and hip. Not the damn hip! Not the titanium, fake, right hip that doctors told me I could do anything with as long as I don’t fall on it.
On my face and chest, I lay wiggling my toes and checking damage. When I finally find a way to stand up, I realize I can’t walk on my right side. It’s the hip. Welcome to 60, Dan.
I limp through my duties without telling anyone about the fall, drive downtown to do my radio show, and confess to my producer what happened.
He responds, “Nothing says old like falling and breaking your fake hip.”
It was mean, but funny. I respected it.
The next day is the party. I needed an attitude-adjustment and, maybe, some ibuprofen. Two hours before the party is supposed to start, I walk into the kitchen and see my wife and mother-in-law working like crazy to make sure everything is perfect.
I walk outside and see my wonderful step-daughter blowing up balloons and putting up one of those big “Happy Birthday” yard signs. My attitude got adjusted. A feeling of gratitude and thankfulness came over me like nothing I’d ever experienced.
I couldn’t believe I was so loved. It was then that I decided to have the best time because I was going to appreciate everyone that came and be thankful they were in my life. I was going to GET OVER MY DAMN SELF!!
And I did. It was an absolute blast. Bad hip and all. Throwing my daughter in the pool fully clothed and seeing her huge smile is something I’ll never forget. My son somehow escaped that fate, but was partying hard, too. Friends came from all different parts of my life. Folks talking, laughing, drinking, eating, playing corn hole … awesome!
I realized something at that party. At 60 years old, I am the luckiest man on the planet. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by truly wonderful people. People I didn’t want to see leave. People that taught me to appreciate, to be grateful, and to love life at any age.
I can’t wait for the next 60 years!