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DISPATCH: Rebel Birthday Celebrations
Posted on December 15, 2006 by Anita Roddick

Today my Mum (Gilda) is 92 years old. She sits in her room, decorated with hundreds of photos of her family, silk butterflies hanging from the ceiling, tweeting mechanical birds perched on the TV and enough artificial flowers to remind one of the Mexican Day of the Dead. She crochets hats for Europe. I have 37 in a drawer at home and share them with anyone who visits me and smiles. Every day she tells me she loves me and has requested that when she dies I publish in the local newspaper a list of things she hates. It starts with President Bush, then black patent shoes, sex on TV, the list goes on...

I read her this extraordinary piece of editorial sent out by Kirk Douglas on his birthday last Sunday (9th December). Mum didnít understand some of the nuances but she got the bit about the need to rebel. As I read the letter I came immediately to understand that it is this, the very presence of the elderly, that is important to the young. They want us to be there, not in their homes or in front of their faces every day, not watching them, but there. We reassure them that life continues and it matters to us that it continues and that being heard, being informed and acting up is part of our narrative. Happy Birthday Kirk and Mum!

My name is Kirk Douglas. You may know me. If you don't ... Google me. I was a movie star and I'm Michael Douglas' dad, Catherine Zeta-Jones' father-in-law, and the grandparents of their two children. Today I celebrate my 90th birthday.

I have a message to convey to America's young people. A 90th birthday is special. In my case, this birthday is not only special but miraculous. I survived World War II, a helicopter crash, a stroke, and two new knees.

It's a tradition that when a "birthday boy" stands over his cake he makes a silent wish for his life and then blows out the candles. I have followed that tradition for 89 years but on my 90th birthday, I have decided to rebel. Instead of making a silent wish for myself, I want to make a LOUD wish for THE WORLD.

Let's face it: THE WORLD IS IN A MESS and you are inheriting it. Generation Y, you are on the cusp. You are the group facing many problems: abject poverty, global warming, genocide, AIDS, and suicide bombers to name a few. These problems exist, and the world is silent. We have done very little to solve these problems. Now, we leave it to you. You have to fix it because the situation is intolerable.

You need to rebel, to speak up, write, vote, and care about people and the world you live in. We live in the best country in the world. I know. My parents were Russian immigrants. America is a country where EVERYONE, regardless of race, creed, or age has a chance. I had that chance. You are the generation that is most impacted and the generation that can make a difference.

I love this country because I came from a life of poverty. I was able to work my way through college and go into acting, the field that I love. There is no guarantee in this country that you will be successful. But you always have a chance. Nothing should interfere with it. You have to make sure that nothing stands in the way.

When I blow out my candles -- 90! ... it will take a long time ... but I'll be thinking of you.

Topic : Aging
Posted By : Anita Roddick
Posted On : December 15, 2006



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3 results found

Re : Rebel Birthday Celebrations
By Brie Gainer on January 8, 2007

Gilda certainly has a family and life to be proud of! Happy Birthday!! (p.s. I am in need of a new hat!)

A lot of elderly people are blogging these days. Grandpa Caleb, at a spry 94-years-old, is a carefree spirit and encouraged by his pink-haired grandson.

Do check out his diary:

Re : Rebel Birthday Celebrations
By christian on January 7, 2007

Wow....just think of being around for almost a century.. We must take the wisdom that comes with age seriously, just as we do the recklessness of the young.
If todays world is a mess, then we can only hope to change that by forgiving our predecessors & move into a more intelligent direction.
That will prove impossible if we keep arguing, fighting, punishing, competing in a cutthroat manner & maintain an egocentric elitarian mentality.
Responsibility comes inextricably bound up with our life. Look closely & see. Act!

Re : Rebel Birthday Celebrations
By janine on December 19, 2006

Congratulations to Gilda and Kirk. I can guarantee neither like this modern world very much. I know Gilda is very fond of garlic and this has without doubt aided her long life. What would be nicer for Gilda than to create Gilda's garlic dish - which I have invented but am unable to pass on to others!


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