Except on July 14, 2015. That's when I spotted the invite from my uncle Bendt. He lives in a small town in Jutland, Denmark. He is 89 years old. He had personalized his invitation with a modest little message: Det er ellers ikke for en dårlig uddannet gammel pensionist som mig.
Translation: This really isn't something for a poorly-educated old pensioner like me.
Bendt's been married to my mother's sister, my Auntie Erna, for more than sixty years. He was a conductor on the Danish railroad for most of his working life. He and Erna are serious bridge players and in their younger years, travelled Europe to compete in tournaments. They stay closer to home these days-- in the house where I visited them as a child. My Danish home.
On my most recent visit to Bendt and Erna's place in 2012, Bendt was as sharp as ever, and still played a mean game of Scrabble!
Bendt's LinkedIn invitation says a lot about him. He never stops learning, even when it involves new technology that might intimidate people half his age. His modesty and understated manner do not disguise the fact that he's fiercely intelligent and one of the most innately curious people I've ever met. When I visited Denmark as a child, Bendt almost always knew the answers to my endless stream of questions, whether it was about a particular type of sandpiper on a North Sea beach, or the entire history of the 900-year-old Ribe Cathedral, one of the area's main attractions. If he didn't know an answer he would head to the bookcase-- his personal resource library-- and search until he found the answer. These days, he's just as likely to say "Google It!" to the delight of his grand-kids and great-grand-kids.
During one of my trips to Europe back in my student-days, I planned to spend a couple of days hanging out and partying in Copenhagen-- on the other side of the country from where Bendt lives. Bendt asked if I might like to spend one of those days at examining Andy Warhol's works at Louisiana, a famous gallery near Copenhagen. To be truthful, I was much more excited about the prospect of examining live specimens at Copenhagen pubs. But Bendt's enthusiasm got to me. He took the train to Copenhagen, the two us met up, and we spent most magical day at Louisiana. I learned a little bit about pop art culture that day. And a whole lot more about what really matters in life.