Today July 20th is my birthday. I made it to 61 in fairly one piece minus an appendix, tonsils and a gall bladder. My crusty aortic valve apparently is the result of a manufacturer’s defect; however my mother already warned me that the warranty on my parts has long expired. So it will need replacing at my expense sometime in the near future.
All in all I’ve had a pretty good life. I have a very smart and beautiful wife – when we married we contributed to our partnership each a pair of bright, happy and healthy kids from previous spouses. Some of them in turn have begat another four raucous and happy grand kids who we thoroughly enjoy.
I was born in the best place one could possibly hail from: San Francisco, California. It is a remarkable city with a colorful history and a unique feel about it even today which is quite unlike any other city I have known. I’m very proud to claim it as my birthplace.
I am thoroughly happy with the name my parents gave me. I share it with many other Roberts of distinction: Robert Oppenheimer, Robert DuVall, Robert De Niro, Robert Frost, Robert Lewis Stevenson, "Robert the Bruce" of Scotland, Robert Hook (father of microscopy), Robert E. Lee. Robert is of Germanic origin meaning “bright”. It’s a versatile name; I can be Robert when austerity is called for yet be Bob when hanging out with family and friends. My mother once told me she had considered naming me “Steve” – I’m glad she didn’t, my three best friends growing up were all named Steve.
Remarkable events have fallen on my birthday over the years: July 20. In 1960 the first submarine fired a Polaris missile. Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on my birthday in 1969. In 1994 Comet Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter.
I grew up under the fearful cloud of Communism yet I lived to witness it crumble into rubble in divided Berlin. I have seen two presidents shot, (one killed) the culmination of the Civil Rights movement and noted multiple revisions of the World Atlas as several countries changed their names. I’ve witnessed computers shrink from room size to the palm of my hand, I’ve watched (on black-and-white TV) the first surgery done on beating hearts and had my own life spared more than once by medically cultured bread mold.
I’ve not always loved my work, but I was always paid adequately and never had to give up my weekends or holidays. As a young adult I had aspired to be a movie director. That wish came true when I released my documentary, “Andrus” in 2008. The fact is that almost all of my fondest wishes eventually came true.
The overriding majority of the combined knowledge of all mankind has been accumulated during my lifetime. And I exist amongst the first generation of humans on this planet who may have unlocked the secrets to the very origins of our universe.
My home is situated in the most beautiful part of the most beautiful country on this planet. In my lifetimes I’ve known great food, fantastic sex, true friends and shared in the most profound gift of love.
And, for my birthday, my wife will be making me a spice cake with chocolate frosting - My absolute favorite! I couldn’t ask for a better life.