Thursday, January 21, 2010

Speech Delivered On My Father's 95th Birthday

May 23rd, 2007, San Juan Puerto

We are here this evening to celebrate the longevity of a life, my father's.

Thinking about this evening, what fascinated me was considering the times Nathan has lived through. If I broke it down into years, we'd be here all night so I thought about the broad strokes of the decades.

My father, as most of you have probably figured out, was born in 1912 & that same year the Titanic sunk. OK... let's jump to the 20's.

In the 20's penicillin was discovered & we had both flappers & the depression.

In the 30's Nathan graduated from medical school got married got a little boat, picnicked on the beaches of some romantic islands in the virgins and practiced medicine by horseback with my mother by his side.

Meanwhile wall street had crashed, the great depression was a reality & migrant workers were mostly white Americans.

In the 40's another war ended the depression, Jackie Robinson crossed the color line, Puerto Rico elected it's first governor. I was born & my father became a Neurosurgeon.

In the 50's Rosa Parks sat down, Sir Edmund Hillary climbed up Mt Everest, Castro became a dictator as Puerto Rico's first constitution was approved. The Independistas revolted, another war broke out & Stephanie was born.

In the 60's we landed on the moon, assassinations & demonstrations abounded, all hell broke loose and the internee's predecessor was born.

In the 70's the first Puerto Rican cardinal was ordained & Roberto Clemente was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, an exhausted peace settled across the land, the Watergate pimple popped & I began work on a new television program. The logo for the show was a pair of glasses & it was called 20/20. In the early days of 20/20 the best thing about it was the title.

We all know we have perfect vision in hindsight. It's the future that can be a slightly out of focus. It is my observation that most of us have very little vision in our early years . As we grow into maturity & beyond, our vision improves, sometimes with the help of glasses.

Sometimes that clarity brings on the mid-life crisis. We see things we are doing in a larger context, the things we passed up along the way & we wonder about changing course. I don't think my father ever had a mid-life crisis as he was always busy doing the work that he loved so much.

In the 80's some revolutionary acronyms became part of our vocabularies: AIDS, PC, CNN & WWW. The Titanic was located & Tienanmen Square happened.

The 90's introduced us to the Ebola Virus, Viagra & a Puerto Rican Doctor/Governor.

For the Millennium, a terrorist -- bent on blowing up Seattle's Space Needle -- was stopped at the Canadian border, Nathan turned 88 & the entire world celebrated.

And here we are in 2007 just a few years after the iPod became a common denominator, gathering around for Nathan's 95th birthday. This is his ninth decade, still fruitful, philosophical and opinionated. And I can tell you with great assurance that the despite the problem he is having with one of his eyes, his vision is definitely 20/20.

He's had a long time to reflect on the world around him & his place in it. I think he's proud of his accomplishments and comfortable in his skin. That's the way it should be @ this stage of life.
And being the competitive man that he is, I'm sure there are more decades left in him.

This evening is a wonderful celebration & I'm going to take the liberty of speaking for my sister -- although maybe I should think twice about that now that she's a lawyer -- to say how much we appreciate all of you who are here sharing this moment in my father's history and a very special thank you to the Bixlers who organized it.

This is, indeed, a joyous occasion. My only sorrow is that my mother is not here to enjoy it with us.

So here's to you, Nathan & dad. Happy 95th Birthday.