Acoustic Music, Baseball, Bluegrass Music, Family, Heritage Travel, Historic Preservation, Random DJB Thoughts
Comments 13

Comments on 60 lessons from 60 years

60th Birthday celebration

My blog is not one of those that has thousands of followers and elicits nasty comments…or many comments at all.  100 views is an excellent day. Most of my readers are family and friends, and the comments I do receive tend to come to me on email or on Candice’s Facebook page (since I went off Facebook more than two years ago).

So I was overwhelmed by the response to my last post, 60 Lessons From 60  Years. As of March 5th (a snowy day with offices and schools closed), I only had three “official” comments on the blog. But I have received well over 100 via those other channels and more than 500 views.  I wanted to ensure the comments did not get lost in cyberspace and – more importantly – I wanted to share some of them with you.

But first, to understand the context, it helps to know a bit of the back-story:

Some people will do anything to avoid going to work on their birthday. My excuse? I was hit by an ambulance while helping a friend who had fallen on the ice. Yep, you read that right.

We made the local news. (A colleagues’ husband had seen it on one of those small screens they now have in cabs, so she wrote, “You’re famous in cabs!”)  A friend (Nancy) who was staying with us went out to dinner with a client, and she slipped and fell on the road behind our house when she returned. An angel of a neighbor found her and called us. We went out to help Nancy, and as she couldn’t get up we called 911. I was kneeling behind her as she sat where she had fallen, to keep her upright and to keep her alert. The ambulance arrived and couldn’t stop on the ice as it headed towards us. We couldn’t get out-of-the-way. I was hit first – my left shoulder against the front of the ambulance – and was tossed into a snow bank. Then the ambulance struck Nancy and pushed her down our hill. I could quickly tell I was okay except for shoulder pain but Nancy was obviously in a worse condition. They took her to the trauma unit at a local hospital and I was taken to ER at nearby Holy Cross.

To cut to the chase, I now have a fractured Humerus in my left shoulder. Nancy has some broken bones. According to our doctors at the moment, neither of us will require surgery. I have to keep my left arm immobile in a sling, which you see at the top of the post. Candice and I are so relieved that Nancy’s prognosis is positive at this point. Mutual friends were so good to Nancy, allowing Candice to focus on my injuries, but Candice did get to visit Nancy in the hospital on Wednesday before Thursday’s snow storm hit.

As a result, many of the comments are from friends and colleagues who found out about our little adventure. And don’t worry about all the typing required for this long post. I am becoming a master of the cut and paste.

I wanted others to see the thoughtfulness, love, and wisdom that came through in responses from friends. I thought you, dear readers, would like to see which lessons resonated.  Feel free to add further comments in the “Leave a comment” section below.

We’ll begin with a colleague who consults for us:

Three new things I just added to the hopefully more than 50 I’ve amassed in my 50 years:
1.   You really are your dad, you lucky devil.
2.   I am not one of those few who understand baseball, but I’d best attend more and try harder for something that merits this much praise from you.
3.   I like and admire you even more than I thought. Which was a lot.

Thank you for sharing. Happy Birthday!

The picture of my grandparents – that was tied to Lesson #23 to “Make yourself useful, as well as ornamental” – was a big favorite. Here’s a sampling of those comments:

I came over to get another gander at the ears to see if they align with what was in the picture but all I can say is here’s to hoping I can one day read your reflections when you hit 90!  Happy birthday!

Hope you’re having a Happy Birthday, ambulances aside! This was fun to read through—thanks for sharing. Gosh, you’re grandparents wedding photograph is wonderful—they are such a gorgeous and handsome couple! 29 cracked me up, and 45 is the bomb, as some say. And many more, including still having your dad with you. I hope I get as lucky.

Love them all, but especially #29, 35, and the photo of your grandparents.

The pastor who led the church where I was raised wrote to say:

In many ways you are your Father’s son.

Many commentators called out their favorite lessons:

Absolutely, completely beautiful. I’m fond of, and moved by, many of them. This morning’s favorite is #45.

Happy Birthday, David.  Your lessons have (mostly) all resonated with me – especially on first read Nos. 13 and 37.

Thank you for sharing your blog with us, that was a gift, even if it had to reach me via your not so great news. I hope you are comfy and warm in your hospital and plan to take it very easy these next days. I shared your blog with my husband, we both greatly enjoyed it and live by many of your numbers -14 and 15 and more. We appreciate advice. A friend of my husband who is in the special forces in the UK, (my husband is a former British army officer at Sandhurst) told him once: you won’t succeed if you have to make all your own mistakes, you have to learn from other people’s mistakes. The same lesson can be applied about many things in life. Thank you for your wonderful blog, and I guess I need to give baseball another chance.  Take it easy and Happy Birthday.

Such a delightful read – and full of sage advice I needed to hear after a long day! Also so excited to see I made a cameo. 🙂  (Editor’s Note:  See Rule #18.)  So great seeing you this past weekend. Happy birthday, David! 

Thanks for including me on this – what a great read! I think it’s funny you mention “becoming your father” – I sometimes fear that though I look just like my dad, in personality I’m becoming my mother! 54 and 55 both resonated with me too. I seem to find that life often has something better in store for me than I could have thought up myself.  Hope you’re recuperating well. Everyone keeps stopping by and passing along their good thoughts!

Happy Birthday David! Hope the shoulder is better. I heard.  Can’t wait to read this and best of all listen to some of this music. My eye did catch your mention of…. The Bitter Southerner. (Editor’s Note: See #28) It is my #1 self treat after a nice long run. Makes me smile to have something in common with you even if you are 60 YEARS OLD.  To Your Day!

Happy belated birthday, David! I’m particularly fond of #’s 13, 15, 7, 28.

I’m so glad to hear you are ok and that your humor remains intact. I was glad to follow this link and read your 60 lessons. It was a great read. Re: #17 – I would say Amtrak is the very best place to think and write. Icing on the cake for me would be the train from NYC to Albany, Hudson River side. #40 made me cry. I especially like #59. In the time I’ve been here, you’ve always been the one to thank me for things or say good job. I’ve mentioned it to many people how important those gestures are, just how far they go….but never thanked you directly. Thank you for taking the time to do that. Hope you feel better soon. Happy birthday!

I also received some suggestions for new lessons to add to the list:

From the ripe old age of 61, I agree with most of your observations. I would also add, “Do something that challenges you every day. It won’t hurt.” I am working on a retirement plan that would allow me to be a “senior nomad,” although I’ll have to change it to something like “Still Crazy Nomad.” I think that’s what I want to be when I grow up, since being Janis Joplin seems out of the question.  Sorry to hear about your run-in with an ambulance. A classic “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Have a happy birthday in spite of it.

Happy birthday.  Enjoyed your 60 vignettes, and now on your birthday, you’ve learned another: bad things happen to good people – and good may come of that.

Here’s one from a colleague who has a serious case of Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.) and has helped me research past acquisitions.

Happy B-Day David!

• Birthday prediction: I think there’s an Gibson Advanced Jumbo in tobacco sunburst in your future …

• Lesson #61: You can never have too many guitars …

• Don’t forget the 12-step program I’ve been advocating: Step 1: submit to a higher power (i.e., the Guitar Gods) …

P.S. Don’t even think about it … just reach for the credit card and everything will be just fine…

Gibson Jumbo
Carl’s next acquisition…a Gibson sunburst Jumbo

Then, of course, the ambulance accident generated a great deal of commentary.

You are rocking the sling my friend! Take it easy…

Can’t want to see what you come up with for 65.

So sorry David. One helluva way to ring in your birthday. I’m so over this snow and ice. I bet you are too.

Heard you’re the subject of the news story I read last night about an ambulance striking the folks it was coming to help. Glad to hear you’ll be OK, but such an unfortunate (and painful!) thing to happen. I hope you feel better soon – and that you get to spend your recovery time watching spring training games from less-icy places!

I understand that you’ve injured your arm in the cause of helping a friend. I am sorry for your troubles and wish you a speedy, easy recovery. I will say, on the other hand, that your accident led me to read your blog post, “60 Lessons from 60 Years.” There’s a lot of love in your writing as well as good humor, wisdom, and links to fine music. Thanks for sharing the lessons you’ve learned.

Inconceivable! (one of the better lines from the Princess Bride) First of all, Happy Birthday!, but secondly stay inside, drink warm cocoa with a little schnapps for the pain and recover! Hope at least the drugs are good.

What a terrific milestone, David! I hope you have a wonderful, grateful, celebratory – and ambulance-free – birthday. (I hear cake can help …)

I am so sorry to hear about your accident and the injuries you and your guest sustained. Hope that you both heal soon and get back to 100%. I can’t imagine how shocked and helpless you must have felt as that ambulance was bearing down on you. Amazing that, so soon afterwards, you are able to reflect on it with such calm. Again, glad that you are on the road to recovery.  Thank you too, for sharing your insights on life, love, and family on your blog.

I truly enjoyed your blog entry and savored the lessons therein. Had it not been for Rob visiting here yesterday…I would have written you with birthday greetings and a question about Glacier. However, Rob shared the news of Tuesday evening and the accident.  Now this email has turned from Happy Birthday to Get Well Soon. One never knows what is around the corner. Some advice on the breaking of bones—Almost 4 years ago, I broke my leg. The things I learned—1) Listen to the doctor and stay ahead of the pain. Even if you don’t like medication, a healing bone is very painful; 2) Ice! 3)Let people do for you—at least at first; 4) Don’t write emails while taking the pain meds. You think you make sense between naps, but you don’t; 5) Take the time you need—easier said than done, but it will make a difference in the recovery and 6) Do the physical therapy and then some. It makes a tremendous difference! I hope that you and your houseguest will be on the mend shortly. Please know you will be in my thoughts and prayers. And may the year bring you much joy, preservation victories, baseball, music and family!

Finally, I received a long email from a friend, Ed. I met Ed and his wife Ruth on a National Trust tour of the Black Sea. They were representing Andover. We bonded over many things, but especially baseball.  His son works for the Red Sox, and I have had the pleasure of visiting Ed and Ruth in their house outside Boston. We keep planning a trip to Nationals Stadium. They are both so very thoughtful, and I thought I’d end this post with excerpts from Ed’s reflections. Enjoy.

Just spent a fascinating evening with your 60 for 60, and Happy Birthday!

Delighted many times over…All 60 had something for me. Can’t think of them all now, but: Staunton [wasn’t Wilson born there?]. Old buildings which several generations have struggled to keep standing. Small towns. Your western travels. Your twins, beloved. [We have identicals as 6-year-old granddaughters in Lexington MA]. The Bitter Southerner’s reassuring message. Your thinking on church, on Southern Baptists, on the Christian Right, who get in their own way. And too much more to remember at the moment.

We differ on a few points, but I appreciate your perspective which would say, Vive la difference!

1. Belichick is far from perfect, but I’ve met him, as a fellow Andover alum. He loved Andover. He was charming, and he has a good side. A mutual friend heard from a guy that Bill once stopped along a highway to help this poor anonymous soul change his tire in a pouring rain. At the end, the guy said, hey, aren’t you . . . ? And Bill said, Please don’t say any more–to me or anyone else. You wouldda done the same thing for me. And he drove off. Kinda like Dean Smith. Maybe great coaches`figure out, sooner than the rest of us, not to be proud of doing the right thing, but just doing it.

The NFL is my guilty pleasure, and I feel like taking a shower after getting its evils splashed on me. But I must confess that it seemed right that Richard Sherman needed to learn more about Kipling’s point that victory and defeat are Two Great Imposters – and he did so with a grace that he had not shown me before. Ditto Pete Carroll, who had left USC just before his misdeeds there came crashing down on the folks he left behind. I was pleasantly surprised that Coach Carroll bravely took the blame for that play call. And Marshawn Lynch said he wasn’t surprised not to get the ball, because “football is a team game.” Not bad for a guy who hasn’t shown a lot of respect in other moments. As your 90-year-old Dad, and your beautiful Grandmother and daughter would doubtless agree, humans are complex and should not be written off.

2. Blue-grass, Blue Highways hymns, and mandolins, have not been to my taste. But I admire them more now, after seeing your appreciation for them.

The three best YouTubes of music I saw this year I will share with you, hoping to add to your eclectic appreciation.

A. So many surprises in this first one: As college kids in 1963-4, we skipped right over this song, to get to “Fun Fun Fun” or “Little Deuce Coop.” Brian Wilson, for a while a hopeless self-absorbed mess, wrote this relatively obscure tune–but not the equally beautiful lyrics–when he was barely 21. His cousin and Hawthorne, CA, neighbor–Mike Love–widely known as a jerk in most circumstances, this time created the words, that make the discerning tear up. And who knew that Mike Love of all people would admit his mistake, in trying to change Willie Nelson’s delivery?

But greatest of all, savor Brian Wilson’s facial expressions at about 4:49. It’s as if this astounding songwriter and harmonist is the RCA dog, listening to his master’s voice on the phonograph. HE tears up–not as a demi-god, but as a human being. All these guys, Willie included, are just regular people, creating some pretty good art, and shaking hands over it. If there is a God, She would smile here. Life can be beautiful, in the South, in the West.

(Editor’s note:  Ed sent along a bonus Beach Boys video)

B. Tammy Wynette and some promoter named Billy Sherrill wrote this song in 15 minutes. We’ve all heard it, but few of us knew what real-life marital and bodily pain Wynette lived through–like Brian Wilson. Her voice haunts:

I’m gonna tell Ruth, and you can tell Candice, that even our selective hearing lets this song come through, loud and clear. [Wynette’s last recording session, before an early death, was singing Brian Wilson’s “In My Room,” which he wrote c. 1961 after yet another beating from his Dad. You can find a different YouTube showing Brian and Tammy together, recording, just weeks before she died. They moved each other, two screwed-up lives intersecting, like ships in the night.]

C. The U.S. Library of Congress selected this 1964 T.A.M.I. Show for preservation in the National Film Registry. The Rolling Stones later said that following James Brown at the end of this show was the biggest mistake they ever made in their careers–and yet they too performed memorably. [Didn’t get what they wanted, but maybe what they needed?] Check out this portion of James Brown’s 20-minute set:

Best to you, and now your remarkable family,
Ed Q.

Candice came out when the Beach Boys tune was playing, as she was a big fan during high school. I had seen the James Brown clip before, and remain amazed.  You gotta love friends who quote Kipling, Bill Belichick, Brian Wilson, Tammy Wynette, and the Godfather of Soul all in the same message.  To each and every one of you who reached out with your love, concerns, thoughts, stories, and humor, my deepest and sincere thanks.

With much love and affection, and with More to Come…


Image: Celebrating my 60th birthday, along with my fractured shoulder and new sling


  1. I shared your 60 at 60 with a friend and when I described you, I said, among other things, “He’s a grown-up.” That is meant as a compliment. This is another snow day so I will go back and read it again and follow the links. And I so appreciate that you remember and value Staunton as we remember and value you.

    • DJB says

      Marney, Thank you for these wonderful words, and for sharing the blog. We will always love Staunton. Take care, DJB

  2. Debbie says

    You are a man with a vast wealth of friends from all walks of life! What wonderful words they each had for you on your special day! You write like Mama and I love living vicariously through all your life moments as I feel I am there on each and every adventure! Thank you for being there for me through the years and for being not only my “older” brother but a true friend. Love you! Debbie

    • DJB says

      Thank you, dear sister. You are the new Mama in our family, and you share so many of her wonderful traits with all of us every day. Love you, DJB

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