Originally, there was to have been a seminar/party in the grand city of Budapest, organized by Miklos Kellermayer, a former postdoc and friend. But that got canceled, for obvious reasons. Then Plan B, a lab party at my home, was also canceled for similar reasons. Given the state of the global pandemic, I thought my birthday would be a quiet event, celebrated pretty much alone. I was wrong.
The day began with a surprise call from Paris. It was Luc Montagnier and his assistant, Suzanne McDonnell, who phoned together to wish me a happy birthday. It was very kind of them to call with warm birthday wishes. The phone call transitioned quickly to a pre-arranged “Power of Eight” session with friends worldwide.
What is “Power of Eight”? When my wife Emi, was in decline from cancer, a group of “distance healers” got together for weekly Zoom sessions, where we all focused our energies on Emi’s healing. Although she eventually succumbed to cancer, I think those sessions might have relieved her symptoms somewhat, as the hospice nurse told me that Emi was in the “top 2 to 3 %”. What she meant was, that only a few percent so close to death suffered less than Emi. Possible reason: those weekly healing sessions. Prompted by my friend, Gina Bria, who runs the Hydration Foundation, that same group got together to do a session directed at me. It was really touching.
At lunch time, Laura and Kurt came from my lab with a tasty take-out meal from Serafina Restaurant. We polished off that lovely Italian lunch with a bottle of fine champagne, sent earlier by Gina. (To my surprise and delight, I was informed that her foundation was to bestow upon me, their “Scientific Achievement” award.)
The day was only just getting started. After lunch, I was gifted with delicious fresh produce from Ananda Farm, a natural farm on Camano Island, where Laura volunteers and her goats live. Alas, no goats came as far as I could tell. Next up was the unveiling of a striking print of my voice appearing cymatically, produced by John Stuart and Annaliese Reid. Wow!
This gift was followed up by a video from people in my lab, with wonderful greetings and good wishes from all. That really warmed my heart. Meanwhile, Kurt video recorded the lunch conversation and everything after. Please watch the edited video here:
Then came an even bigger surprise: a beautifully decorated folder, filled with papers well over an inch thick, handed over as “something for you to read.” My first thought: No!…. please no more lab manuscripts to edit! But, instead, it was a series of tributes and warm wishes, drawn from friends, relatives, and colleagues from all over the world. I was overwhelmed. I’ve REALLY enjoyed reading them deeply, at my leisure. I am flabbergasted by the number of letters, including from many of my heroes. Wow! So many wonderful wishes from friends and family. How Laura managed to contact all of those people, boggles the mind.
Then, physically distanced visits from my two sons and their families. That included the gift of a(nother) nice shirt from Seth, et al. - always a triplet: one for Seth, one for myself, and another for Anna’s dad, who is EXACTLY five years younger than I am. Then came Ethan and family. Got a birthday cake from Rachel, and a hand drawn cartoon-portrait from Ethan. Fantastic! So nice to see everyone, including grandkids. Of course (like ALL grandkids), they are the smartest and most beautiful in the world. Treasures, all of them!
Two other scrumptious items for the day were, special home-made lavender flavored ice-cream from a new student, Sally. And a freshly caught halibut sent by my Alaskan friends, Arjun and Cadie. I wish I knew the best way to prepare that fish. My first attempt was made with just butter, salt and pepper. It was not disastrous - in fact it may have been the best halibut ever. Even a bozo like myself can’t destroy the wonderful flavor and texture of genuinely fresh fish.
So......thank you ALL, and just wow! I figured it would be a quiet, peaceful, and maybe even a “lonely" birthday. Instead it turned out completely otherwise. I’m still climbing back down from an unforgettable birthday!