My father, Martin Sajdak, will celebrate his 96th birthday just over a day from now, on October 19. That’s right, 96. He has some of the usual health problems that seniors have, like aching joints, a little heart trouble, and an occasional bout of memory lapse (like son, like father). All in all though, he is in incredible shape. He’s lucid, mobile, interesting, interested and vital. He is online, very concerned and informed about the upcoming election and always ready for a good game of cribbage or a good healthy argument about politics. He and his youthful bride, my mother Dorothy, who turned 86 this past spring (yeah, Marty likes ‘em young), have shared 66 years together. They claim that their endurance and longevity is the result of abundant love, clean living, and moderation in all things. I can’t argue. They’ve raised three children (I’m the youngest), and have a total of seven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Marty was born in 1912, just 6 years after the Wright Brothers’ flight. To give you some idea of what has transpired in the time since his birth, I will list some things that did not exist when Marty was born, things that he has seen developed in his lifetime: commercial aviation, jet propulsion, many, if not most surgical procedures, organ transplants, artificial Hearts, artificial sweeteners, fat-free anything, black and white as well as color television, main-frame computers, personal computers, reel-to-reel tape decks, hi-fidelity audio, stereophonic sound, 45s, LPs, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, video recorders, video players, digital electronics, digital cameras, digital sound and video recording, rocket ships, space travel, moon landings, satellites, the Hubble telescope, instant communication, LEDs, cordless telephones, cell phones, DAT recorders, voting machines, carpet cleaners, headphones, all the advances in automobiles, phone message machines, copiers, scanners, microchips, micro technology of any kind, wind turbines, plastic of all kinds, super tankers, Super Bowls, nuclear energy, nuclear bombs, electric refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, hair dryers, butane lighters, solar panels, fluorescent lighting, e-mail, amplifiers, electric musical instruments, exercise machines, hot tubs, blenders, mixers, MRIs, CAT scans, laser beams, ultra sound, bullet trains, SSTs, the NFL, electronic scoreboards, designated hitters, designated drivers, ultra-suede, Ultra Slim, Hostess Ho-Hos, and the Home Shopping Network. That is a very incomplete and poorly organized list, off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many things I’ve omitted. If anyone can think of more, please list them in a comment.
Here’s the point: I am in total awe, both of my father and of the resiliency and flexibility of the human mind and spirit. How else could a person adjust to so many changes and still remain relevant and timely in this world? I believe time is an illusion anyway, that everything is happening at the same time but our limited human faculties simply aren’t capable or developed enough to truly perceive this. It’s just something to wonder about and something to wonder at.
All that aside, here’s the real point. Happy Birthday, Dad. Give him a big kiss from all of us, Mom. We all love you and are grateful for what you have given us and for the fact that you are both still with us. It’s been a long ride, and you have steered the vehicle well. The love you two have poured forth has generated more human beings and even more love. It’s all a damned miracle. May all of our lives be as magnificent and productive as both of yours have been.
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