Today is the big birthday, “a day of celebration and reflection” as I am sure the rabbi would say, a day you shake hands and kiss everyone who is part of your life and sit quietly and think back over the years you have spent on the planet. Eighty years is a long time and a long life. Few of our ancestors reached such an age and few of them could talk about such a long lifespan.
My life started in 1933 and has passed through a world war in which I was intimately involved through letters from a beloved uncle who never came back. Luckily I was far away and besides a couple of half-hearted air-raid drills at school there was no other connection to the war. I lived through a holocaust but it was two continents away and we only heard about it after it was over. I lived through other wars which I could only read about in the newspapers.
I was involved in the development of new cars and planes by riding in them at the first opportunity. I rode on trains with steam engines and missed the horse and cart era by careful timing. I cheered when Mount Everest was conquered and the four minute mile was broken. I was here when the Beatles first took the stage and I was waiting at the door when television came into our homes. I wore a little bag of garlic around my neck to keep the polio away and I also witnessed the end of polio. Unfortunately I watched as it was followed by the arrival of Aids. I was one of those who held one’s breath when the Americans shot a man into space and put him on the moon. I saw an American president and then an Israeli prime minister being assassinated.
Of course I was waiting on the corner when personal computers arrived and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. From then on it’s been one mad rush after another to keep up with the technology race.
If I had been given the choice, “Pick yourself an interesting lifetime”, I couldn’t have done better!