Sometimes there are trips or moments that stay with you and sometimes they are just special people. One of those special people is Max, an old gentleman from Great Britain who would rather not dive than blow out the tickets on his birthday. It all started with the necessary emails from the head office about Max, he would join us on the live boat and reach the magical age of 89 during a trip.
We are often asked to what age you can actually dive? Well of course that depends on your own fitness and that is exactly what Max does. The head office asks me to organize something special for his birthday. Keeping in mind that Max could potentially become the oldest active diver in the world. And therefore also the question to record everything as much as possible because he may have to prove his record for the Guinness Book of Records. Of course that’s no problem at all, we pull the streamers out of the closet, let the camera click, bake a cake and make it a great party.
At the start of every trip our guests arrive by bus and I see Maxto get off. He isan older greyish gentleman whatbut withstill a full head of hair with a big smile but as age betrays he needs a little more help than our other guests. Once inside the boat after the first meeting we do the paperwork. I ask Max how old he is, he says proudly and whispers that he will be 89 during our trip. As if that’s a secret… haha, of course I already knew that. Max has not only had a respectable age but also a good diving career, with his 1400 dives he is one of the most experienced divers on board. But at 88 you are of course not as fit as when you were 20 and so I discuss with Max how we can best help him while diving. We think it’s a good idea that Max always has one of the guides as a buddy and that we don’t dive too deep. Is not necessary for this trip as we have the golden triangle of the Red Sea on the agenda. Max does want to get rid of the Zodiac, although of course we have to help him with his equipment. He also finds two dives a daymore than enough, because he likes to sleep in.
What is special is that Max completely surrenders to us, he follows all the instructions of the crew, is very relaxed in the zodiac and rolls backwards without blinking. As we meet strong currents we notice that he no longer has the leg strength. No problem, we are buddies after all, so we help each other. And so funny, during the dive Max likes to wave to the fish no matter is it is a shark, abarracuda or just a small fish on the reef.
It’s special to have such a beautifully matured man still full of life and it is therefore a great honor to celebrate his birthday with him. Of course we organize something special, instead of the party in the evening we will have a cup of coffee with cake in the morning, because Max likes to go to sleep early. In addition, of course everyone wants to dive with possibly the oldest diver in the world. And so we organize a group dive where we all like to take a picture with them to capture this special moment.
After the first dive and after breakfast Max finally arrives on deck, he had a good night’s sleep and is looking forward to his first dive of the day. What Max doesn’t know, but we do know, is that we have a fun day on the menu in honor of his birthday. Before the dive I would like to give the briefing on the sundeck, to celebrate. The balloons and flags are already hanging, everyone knows what’s going to happen (except Max) and together with some of the other guests we made a big banner. Time to ring the ship’s bell and celebrate Max by singing happy birthday, a fantastic cake and a present, a polo in honor of the day plus the banner everyone has written on. Max is very happy smiling from ear to ear and everyone ewants to take a picture with him and he is completely surprised. In all this hustle I am thinking ‘well everyone wants to have a picture with him maybe I should just stay in the background a little bit’, but Max does not agree with me and he comes to get me to to take a picture together and while we are ready with a radiant smile I feel his hand gently go over my back. He is a lot fitter than you would expect with 89 and you know what he said to me? ‘Hey Anke, don’t email this photo to me, because when my wife sees it, she gets really jealous.’ Max has been married for over 70 years and his wife didn’t like it when he said: ‘Babe this year for my birthday I’d rather blow bubbles than candles.’
What a winner, just 89 and still going on an adventure and enjoying life. I can only hope to be able to do that myself once I’m a bit more mature.
Love life… Blow Bubbles….