Milestone birthday goes beyond 10/10/10 | Nandell Palmer

I am always amused when people try to create significant meaning around certain dates. How could I ever forget July 7, 1977 — 7/7/77 — or clashing of the four 7s.

I am always amused when people try to create significant meaning around certain dates.

How could I ever forget July 7, 1977 — 7/7/77 — or clashing of the four 7s.

How about Dec. 31, 1999, when some people literally thought that the world would come to an end?

Recently, I was privileged to be in the company of an esteemed gentleman who was born on Oct. 10, 1920.

Thus, when Fred Lamka celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010 (10/10/10), the day became very significant for me.

Lamka, the oldest member of the Federal Way Harmony Kings, basked in the glow of deep admiration and heartfelt adulation from a host of family, friends and well-wishers at a lavish reception.

The father of three and husband to Jane spent 42 years working for Boeing before his retirement in 1985.

A senior aviation engineer with the Airlines on the Ground (AOG) department, Lamka’s job took him to many countries around the world to work on crashed or malfunctioned planes.

A world map, zigzagged with red and green cords, and showing timelines and destinations of his travels, was part of the many show-and-tells on display.

Awards of all descriptions were on display for this man: Some from his beloved barbershop music society, some from golfing, and numerous others from Boeing.

Incidentally, Lamka is the longest-serving member of the Federal Way Harmony Kings with 49 years of service.

His singing buddies were on hand to serenade him and his beloved Jane in a medley of the couple’s favorite songs.

The mood was very convivial, indeed. After reading conversational notes like, “Fred is 20 with 70 years of experience,” among other witty sayings, I felt that there was more to be had from this auspicious occasion.

I soon found it in an unlikely source. Yes, another reason why 10/10/10 proved significant for me was my meeting and chatting with the adorable Faith Callahan. Not many people ever get a chance to sit and converse with a 106-year-old woman.

After giving me a brief bio of herself, Callahan told me that her husband officiated at the Lamkas’ wedding ceremonies 65 years ago.

Waiting for a question like, “How many people do you know that are 100 years old or older?” from the sharp woman, I was caught off-guard with her question.

“So, what do you do for exercise?” she asked, expectantly waiting for an answer. But what answer would be ideally suited for an alert woman who told me that she swims three times a week?

How many push-ups, laps around the park or bench presses would be equivalent to her rigorous swimming if both of our exercise regimens were to be broken down by age and exertion?

Wow. I was floored with that one. And I am still having a good laugh from it.

Since I will not be around to see another 10/10/10, I am awfully blessed to have had the joys of celebrating with Lamka and Callahan. What I would do to just sit at their feet for a day and glean from their treasure troves of wisdom!

Too bad my birthday doesn’t have any of those neat matches of numbers for it to become a significant day for the masses. Being born the 29th day of a particular month put me out of the competition right there. But I guess I am still significant in many other ways.

I need to have a talk with my parents about this matter. How could they? In the meantime, Lamka will continue to stand tall among men in my book — long after 10/10/10.