Tuesday, 21 July 2015

I'm Sixty

Today is my sixtieth birthday; I don't feel any different than I did yesterday, way back when I was in my fifties. I don't feel old, or older at any rate.  The arbitrary assignments we make in the calendar of our lives are few, mostly set by key social events. The have no real meaning.

For most of us, 16 is the first big one, when we can get our driver's licence; by this time I had already been driving for a couple of years. Then comes 19 or 21 when you can get into the bar for a beer; I'd already been going for a couple of years with my Dad, driving him home when he had had more than his share. At 18 or 21 you get to vote or join the military. Then there are few days until 65, our enshrined retirement age for this and last century.

Turning sixty offers none of those seminal events. It's just another day, somewhere between 21 and 65. I've seen the 21; the 65 is unlikely. As a couple of people have already noted, for many turning 60 would represent a milestone; for me it represents a real accomplishment. The odds were about 50/50 on my getting this far when I sat in that hospital room on November 22, 2012, listening to a neurologist discuss diagnosis, prognosis, and probability.

At age 57, I was told that the most likely scenario was somewhere in the range of 36 months. That makes it sixty. I was diagnosed 32 months ago, so there is still time for me to live up to my expectation. Only now I want to live beyond it. Now I want to see 61, 62, and beyond. Of course I have always wanted to do that; now it's one marker point closer.

Each day is a gift. Each day gives me the opportunity to live once more, to feel my heart beat, to feel my blood pulse, to have my eyes mist over at the sound of a sad story, to laugh at even a bad joke. It's also another day with ALS. Right now, I can live with that. And remember, there are a lot of people who don't even make it to sixty.


  1. Happy birthday, Richard and congratulations on reaching 60! I was diagnosed just a couple of months after my youngest grandson and namesake was born. My thoughts often went to how long I would have to know him and my other grandchildren (and for them to know me). It could get melancholy at times but I soon realized that no matter how much time I had - 10 months or 10 years - and no matter how many great things I got to see, I'd always want to see more. If I made it a graduation, I'd want to see the wedding; if I saw a wedding, I'd want to see the great-grands. There's never an end to it, not for "healthy" people and not for the terminally ill (and aren't we all terminal cases in the end?) Let's enjoy every day and every milestone, even if we have to invent the milestones ourselves!

  2. Happy Birthday Richard--sorry the birthday wishes are late but I hope you enjoyed your day.