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My first birthday (true story).

This story inspired by the photo of NATALIA MAKS‘ below (used with her blessing).

PHOTO BY NATALIA MAKS

PHOTO BY NATALIA MAKS

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I was born in Odessa, a wonderful Ukrainian city on the shore of the Black Sea.

In May of 1935 my family celebrated my first birthday. At that time my father was 23 years old and my mother was two years younger.

My father was a very strong man. He could easily bend horseshoes. He was also a terrific swimmer.

His younger two brothers and three sisters and my mother’s younger brother were very good swimmers too. During summers they often volunteered as lifeguards.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and everyone was in the huge yard of our apartment house. Several tables were set in a circle. My large deep bath tub was placed in the center of the circle and I was enjoying life playing with rubber toys.

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Everyone else was not playing. There were good speeches, strong drinks and abundance of food. My 40 years old Grandma was taking care of everything on the tables and often went to our apartment with somebody else to bring more food and drinks.

At one moment several sparrows came to see what was going on. I turned to watch them, lost my balance and went under the water. Then I tried to sit up but without success.

My parents and some other members of the family saw that I was drowning but they could not move. They were paralyzed!

Fortunately, at that moment my Grandma returned from the apartment and immediately picked me up. She checked that I was still alive and well. Then she looked at my parents, uncles and aunts and said just one word: “Lifeguards!”