Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Birthday Boy


Today was the 104th birthday of my dear friend, Adolf. He and his wife, Miriam, were close friends of my parents and I knew them almost from the time I was born.

Adolf loves to tell me that I came into their lives screaming my head off. My older brother pushed me in my stroller around the corner and across a busy street, and I clearly did not want to be there. (He was probably pinching me or something.) I tell Adolf that I'm still screaming.

My reluctance changed before long because Miriam and Adolf were delightful, warm and lovely people. Their only child, Martin, who was several years older than I, was my first, unrequited crush. Martin became an architect, married someone who wasn't me, and had three daughters. Sadly, he died young of kidney disease.

Adolf lives in New York and I have lived in many other places so I haven't seen him since my mother's funeral in 1989, but we speak several times a week. He is my definitive proof that senility is not mandatory. He is totally blind now, but all his other faculties are intact, and work better than those of most people half his age. The world has changed dramatically in the century-plus he's been alive, and Adolf has total recall of all of it.

He intends to tell people he's in his 105th year now because it's so much more impressive than a mere 104. Adolf needs no help being impressive. He was an engineer, for many years the Far Eastern head of Westrex, a division of Western Electric. He lived in Australia and in Bombay, India, and traveled the world meeting with kings and presidents who commissioned him to bring Western technology to their countries. He has been retired for many years and lives alone in a little house near the ocean on Long Island.

This morning, I informed him it was time for us to have a serious talk about the future. He needs to think about what he wants to be when he grows up. He said he'd let me know as soon as he has a plan. Adolf is the only man who has ever called me "darling." Just one more reason I have a real stake in wanting him to live forever.

26 comments:

mist1 said...

104?

ShadowFalcon said...

Wow thats impressive.

Though apparent the current generation (People born snice the 70's) are likely to live to 120...

Im not sure if thats good or bad

Christina_the_wench said...

LOL, I love the 'talk' you had with him about what he wants to be when he grows up. That sense of spunkiness and humor is rare.

104. Amazing.

djn said...

It's nice that you honored your friend in this way. I love it. He sounds like a gem.

Lex said...

He sounds delightful. Thanks for sharing him with us?

When you ask him the secret of his longevity, what does he say?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mist,

104.

Shadow,

I hadn't heard that statistic. I think it's good if one is having a purposeful life AND we learn fast how to conserve what is needed to sustain life on this planet.

Christina,

He is a Wonderful man! And so inspiring.

Djn,

I wish I could have done him justice. He truly is a gem.

Lex,

Thank you. I shared him because he is a very bright spot in my life.

katrice said...

Wow! I would love to sit at the feet of a person like him and just listen for hours.

Does anyone help him out at home now that he's blind?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Katrice,

The things he can tell firsthand are astounding!

His devoted daughter-in-law and one of his granddaughters drive up from Maryland about every 6 weeks to fill his freezer with homemade meals and to pay his bills, take him for haircuts, etc.

On Tuesdays, the Helen Keller Services to the Blind provides a shopper to pick up perishable groceries. He knows every inch of his house and moves carefully.

It hurts my heart that I can't be there to help him. I fantasize about cleaning his kitchen and doing his laundry.

Odat said...

Wow....What memories he must hold! It must be great to be able to talk to someone like that...god bless him.....AND BTW....I DID THE MEME...SEE MY SEPTEMBER 24TH POST!!! I got right on that!!!!


Peac

urban-urchin said...

I have to say hearts you have some pretty cool friends. What an honor to have a life long friendship like this.

kim said...

Thats so sweet :) Im another one that could sit and listen to the elders tell stories forever and a day. He sounds like a fantastic guy ...wish him happy birthday from me too

skan said...

good evening
skan from rome here

mist1 said...

I am afraid of the day that my weight and age are the same.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Odat,

Oops! So sorry I missed your meme post. I can't wait to get to your place and read it.

Urchin,

Exactly. I do feel so honored. Especially about the darling part. :<)

Kim,

I'll tell him he has a beautiful lady out there who would love to hear his stories. He'll be so pleased.

Skan,

Good evening.

Mist,

Me, too. I weigh 100 pounds, but so far have a few years to go before all my dimensions match.

Pendullum said...

Happy Birthday to Adolf...

and why is Adolf the only person to call you darling???

Maybe I should be afraid to ask...
Yes, I am , afraid!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Pendullum,

That's a very good question. Unfortunately, I can't answer it.

jali said...

I'm so glad that you appreciate great people while they're still here!

Nice tribute!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jali,

Better than later. For both of us. Thank you.

Michael C said...

Adolf sounds like a great man. Just to sit and talk with him about the changes, progress and history he has seen in his 104 years must be fascninating!

Happy Birthday Adolf!!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Michael,

It is, indeed, fascinating to talk with Adolf. He has not only experienced so much, but has actually formulated ideas about events that to most of us are merely historic.

And he has come through all of it with great compassion. I am so very lucky to know him.

Nihilistic said...

Happy Birthday to Adolf! I'm just as impressed with 104 as 105 however!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Nihilistic,

Really. Me, too!

Thanks for coming by.

An explosive said...

Wow! What warmth to be able to hold while reading a blog. That was just terrific.

Adolf might be one of the most interesting men I have had the ability to meet in a long time! Does he date? *(lol)*

Be well always and always and Adolf too... we need more men like him in this world, darling! ~M

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Darling M,

Yes, we do for sure. And if he were about 70 years younger, I'd introduce him to you.

You made me smile out loud!

~Macarena~ said...

You know some of the best people.

Is anyone recording his stories?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Macarena,

Yes, I'm trying to do that, picking his brain shamelessly.