Who is the oldest living Lego builder? It could be my father, Manny Silberman, who is 96.
His den is home to planes, trucks, cars, a haunted house, a pirate ship and whole villages -- all constructed in tandem with my sister, Barbara.
How did this all begin? After my mother passed, Dad, who is still sharp as a tack and has always tinkered around the house, needed an outlet for his creative energy.
At first, he focused on jigsaw puzzles. Dad was smart because he got the entire family involved. Everyone helped advance the progress of the 1,000-piece project. Even the live-in caregiver contributed some time. This made him very happy; he was at his best when surrounded by those who cared for him. The feeling was always mutual. Everyone loved sitting with him.
After completing six 1,000-piece puzzles, Dad became bored. We faced a dilemma. What hobby could we involve him in next?
My sister suggested we buy a Lego set. Considering that Dad is a veteran of World War II, it was logical that the first structure be a plane. He never stopped "fighting" the war. He was proud to serve, and that defined him his whole life.
My father became entranced with this new hobby. Each project took weeks to complete. It breathed new life into him. Everyone seemed happy. Even my nephew, Ian, became a Lego groupie. Dad had something to look forward to every day, and it gave him a new purpose.
It has been about a year since Legos have become part of the family. About 15 structures sit on display in my dad's den -- the Tower Bridge of London (more than 4,000 pieces), MetalBeard's Sea Cow Pirate Ship from "The Lego Movie" (more than 2,700 pieces) and many others.
When people come to visit, he proudly shares his accomplishments. He is fiercely protective of the structures. God forbid someone might accidentally touch or knock into one; it is the only time Dad raises his voice. When a project nears completion, Dad anticipates his next Lego adventure. It is then my sister returns to the Lego store to pick the next project. She has become a regular at the store and is on a first-name basis with the manager.
The Lego bug has definitely reared his head at Dad's house. Who would have thought that the den would be transformed into a Legoland, but it is. More importantly, it has brought some joy and purpose back into his life. It has channeled the inner child in my father and all those who participate in the excitement of each new structure.
It is a good thing, a very good thing.
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