Macro Man Excerpts
Last summer a convergence of two unrelated observations resulted in the writing of this book, a memoir of the life of my father, Leo Fishman. The first was a conversation he and I had while walking on the boardwalk at Green Cay Wetlands in Delray Beach, Florida. While we were walking, my father said that life in retirement was good. He had enough money, and he said, “I will run out of time before I run out of money.” He did not have to work, and he did not have to worry about accomplishing anything. He got up each day, ate breakfast, watched TV or went on the computer, listened to talking books, walked the 1/8 mile to the community pool, swam, walked home, made dinner and relaxed in the evening with more TV or Internet. He said, “Life is good when you are 99 years old, but also life no longer has any meaning. We discussed that and I suggested he write a book about his life. At first my father said that there was nothing exceptional about his life and why would anyone want to read about him. He repeatedly said, “I was just one of the boys.”
I thought about what he said, and then thought about what my wife and I know about our families. I knew my father’s parents and that’s it. My mother’s parents died when she was a child. I knew nothing of my great-grandparents, and we could not find anything on the Internet. My knowledge of my family is quite limited.
My wife has an interesting family history. A street in Rome is named after her great-grandfather (or is it her great-great grandfather)? Captain Bavastro was a captain of a square-rigged sailing vessel in the Italian navy. That is all she knows. Someone in her family owned vineyards in northern Italy. Her knowledge of her family history is also limited.
So, I said to my father, “You already have great-grandchildren. When they grow up, they will wonder about their history. Some of these children will have great-grandchildren, and they will also wonder. If, at that time, someone finds this book, they will have a snapshot of their family, instead of just a blank page.”
Before the end of our walk, we decided that it would be nice to write a memoir and to have it published before his 100th birthday party. I have enjoyed this endeavor. I have learned many things I did not know. I think that my father has also enjoyed it, and while he still says, “Why write about me? I was just one of the boys,” I think it will become clear that we need more “boys” like him.
Marc Fishman, MD
October 21, 2017
When you are 99-years-old, all your friends are dead. Well,almost all. Ruth Miller is still alive, and maybe I will see her this year.
The friends you made in your 80s are gone, too, and it becomes harderand harder to meet people your own age. Besides, as I have often said, the kind of girl who wants to go out with a 99-year-old is not the kind of girl I am looking for.
Nowadays, I spend my time at the pool in the retirement community we moved to 27 years ago. I am the oldest person in theentire community of about 500 people. I walk the 1/8 mile to the pool and say “Hi” to the other people in the community, all of whom are 20-25 years younger than I am. They greet me, tell me that I am amazing, and then go back to their own conversations. I jump in the pool and swim laps, while the others chat or wade in the shallow end.
It is true, however, that I am amazing. What is amazing about me? Well, I am still breathing. That’s amazing.
So, how did I get here? It certainly wasn’t due to a good diet. I grew up on lamb chops, steak, and potatoes. And salt, lots and lots of salt. If I had to guess, it was following the philosophy of Alfred E. Newman – “What!! Me Worry?” It seems like stress kills, and for my entire life I have avoided worry. When things were not going well, I have always thought that they would get better. When they are getting better, I figure that momentum will bring me through. Of course, I realize this is illogical. If momentum were the key determinant of outcome, then I would have died long ago. I would have gotten a cold, and momentum would have made me sicker until I got pneumonia and died. But my mind does not work that way. Momentum only works when I am getting better, and I just don’t worry about it. So here I am, still breathing.