Thoughts on Turning 80

It never occurred to me that I would actually reach such an advanced age.  Of course, no one can predict their future, what will happen, what illnesses and accidents may occur.  Suffice it to say that I have had my share of them, childhood diseases, an operation on my optic nerve, heart problems.  But, here I am in comparative good health.

I would give everything if my lovely, vivacious, loving wife, Naomi, could be with me as she was, before the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease caught her brain and started to destroy it.  She is now in a Home and we cannot take her out because we doubt we or she could deal with it.  But, I visit her almost every day, and my daughter Miriam and her husband Jeff visit her often.  My son Simon, who is currently visiting from California, also visits her every day while here.  I have been blessed by having wonderful, attentive and loyal children.  Of course, they are very ready to give me advice, which at the age of 80. I often don’t need or heed.

It is astonishing that having been born in 1938, I have survived WWII and the German bombing of London, I have lived through the time of the founding of the State of Israel, the various wars that Israel fought and won (1967, 1973, 1982 and so on). And I now live as a productive citizen of our own Jewish State.

If anyone had come and told me when I was growing up in poverty in the East End of London in the 1950’s that I would one day be a Professor (of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology), that I would live for 30 great years in the USA and that I would make aliyah (move to) Israel and live here with my family, I would have been in total disbelief.  Now that I have a great-grandchild, Ro’i, living here, I think I can say that we are rooted in our homeland, forever.

Likewise, if anyone had told me that we would have tiny computer-phones that could be used to communicate daily with anyone anywhere in the world, I would have laughed at them.  But, it has happened, it is reality, life has changed so much and is so wonderful and convenient, who would have thought it.

If I have any regret, it is that after continuing my life-long ambition to always be creative, in science, in art and in writing, that my modest contributions have largely  been over-looked.  I have no gift for marketing or interest in self-promotion.  Apart from my scientific work (ca. 185 research papers), and my painting (see, I have self-published 10 books in 8 years.  These vary from personal memoirs of growing up in the East End of London and going to Cambridge University, to non-fiction regarding the Jewish predicament, including a book about the Bnei Anousim, the descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity in Spain and Portugal up to 500 years ago.  I like to think of myself as but a link in a golden chain.  I leave these works to posterity and hope they will be judged on their merit.

As I look back I marvel at the changes that I have seen and the incredible luck I have had in my career and life in general.