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He became a father at 83, five decades after having his first child

Sometimes, as I walk down the street or watch a movie or a television show, I see a child and wonder how much time I’ll have with Emilio. The finite nature of my time with him seems like a constant presence, but I try not to let it weigh on me. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the joy of watching him grow, learn new words, and absorb the world around him, prevails over my fear.

  • 11 months ago
  • April 10, 2023
6 min read
Doctor becomes father at 83 years old, 55 years after the birth of his first child. Doctor becomes father at 83 years old, 55 years after the birth of his first child. | Photo courtesy of Alberto Cormillot
Interview Subject
Alberto Cormillot (right) is 84 years old and is a renowned Argentine doctor specializing in nutrition and obesity. He is also a very active personality in the media. He was the creator of the reality show Cuestión de Peso and participated in numerous radio and television programs. He currently works at Radio Miter and Canal 9, in Argentina, and is a columnist on the Infobae site. He became a father again at 83 years old.

Alberto Cormillot wrote a series of popular books and he created and directs institutions which have included the Nutrition and Health Clinic, the Diet Club, and the ALCO Foundation. He trains medical professionals at the Central Hospital of San Isidro, in the province of Buenos Aires. In the town of Malvinas Argentinas, in the same province, he directs training at the hospital that bears his name. In his free time, he is fond of tap and aerial dance.
Background Information
An octogenarian is a person between 80 and 89 years old. According to the World Health Organization, in 2020, the number of people 60 years and older outnumbered children younger than five years old. Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12 percent to 22 percent.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina ꟷ At 83 years old, I became a father for the third time with my wife Estefi, who is 48 years younger. I never paid much attention to age, but people remind me of it more now. Those reminders increased when Estefi and I decided to have children.

At 20 years old, you feel immortal. At 30, you begin to feel breakable, but still enduring. By 40, you realize your immortality. At 80 years old, you feel both mortal and breakable. You visualize the countdown on life.

Read more stories in the Health category from Orato World Media.

At my age, I suffered twice with cancer, have had falls, and experienced blows. Like anyone, I feel fear, but my fear does not escalate to a phobia, nor does it interfere with my daily life. Estefi and I put a lot of thought into having a child and we moved forward without any doubts.

Parenting has changed in the last five decades, I feel absolutely amazed by it

On the day of Emilio’s birth, we traveled to the clinic expecting a false alarm. They measured the strength and progression of the contractions and informed us labor began. As a doctor myself, I had confidence in my colleagues, and I felt relaxed. My greater concern centered on my wife Estefi and how she felt. She faced possible difficulties with natural childbirth, so we opted for a cesarean section.

They placed a screen between her belly and our faces. I stood next to her, near her head. Holding her hand, we talked. I conveyed calmness despite being nervous myself. They took my son out and the photos ensued. I stayed with him throughout all the procedures to follow.

Happiness and excitement filled me, knowing everything had progressed well. Pregnancy and childbirth remain one of the most common, repeated processes in history, but it amazed me. It seemed indescribable that a human body forms from something the size of a pea. As a doctor myself, I studied all those processes, but at that moment, I was just another parent.

The first time I became a father 55 years ago, we welcomed my daughter Reneé into the world. Today, nothing remains the same. When my first children were born, a father went off to work and the mother stayed home. If a child threw a tantrum, their parents told them, “Stop – that’s enough!”

Today, we use tools to divert our children and help them understand the processes happening in their minds, so we can calm them down. The old days centered exclusively around authoritarianism, and over the years, I accumulated ignorance. Approaching fatherhood again, I had a lot to learn. I realized with parenthood; everything renews at every moment. You must always adapt to what comes next.

Day-to-day life as an octogenarian, father of an infant

At 83 years old, I learned to change diapers for the first time. Most weekends, I prepare breakfast for Emilio, and we entertain each other. My friends do not have young children, so I talk about parenting with my co-workers who are much younger than me.

During my last vacation, I spent a week surrounded by parents of young children and took advantage of every moment. The parents knew I worked as a doctor, so they asked me many things. Yet, more importantly, I asked them about their experiences. I learned so much about pacifiers, nighttime strategies, going to bed, handling tantrums, and the kinds of words to use.

Alberto with his sons Emilio y Adrián | Photo courtesy of Alberto Cormillot

When Emilio cries, it hurts me. When his despair appears to be a response to a situation like hunger, cold, heat, or pain, I understand. Other moments prove more difficult. Sometimes, at night, I become fatigued. When he doesn’t want to sleep, it feels hard to handle; but at this point in my life, I have enough patience to keep up.

Every day, I wake up at 4:00 a.m. to read before going to work. I finish work and by 7:00 p.m., I am sitting at home having dinner with my family. Sometimes, as my wife busies herself on her phone, Emilio climbs around on me. He puts his finger in my ear or my mouth, stands up, sits down, and balances himself. I play with him and pick him up, which proves easier for me to do when I lay down, rather than standing.

The end of the day has become the most special time of all for me. I can’t see Emilio while I’m work, except for our video call at Noon, so evenings become very important.

Living to 104 and leaving a legacy behind

The arrival of any child is a lifelong responsibility. In my case, it feels more intense because I know I will only be able to accompany Emilio for a limited time. The years with my son will be shorter than the time shared between most parents and their children. When making our decision, we took this into account and preferred to move forward anyway.

Sometimes, as I walk down the street or watch a movie or a television show, I see a child and wonder how much time I’ll have with Emilio. The finite nature of my time with him seems like a constant presence, but I try not to let it weigh on me. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the joy of watching him grow, learn new words, and absorb the world around him, prevails over my fear. I take great pleasure in raising him, and giving him the best that I can, for as long as I am able.

Still, I have a goal. I signed up for a course called, “How to Live to 104 Years.” According to my calculations, by the time I turn 104, Emilio will have achieved something significant. I want to present him with his diploma.

Last year, doctors diagnosed me with kidney cancer. Fortunately, they discovered it in time, by chance. I also struggled with a bout of fever of unknown origins and lingered on the brink of death for two months. While I have my goals, and everything seems fine, our lives nor our health are guaranteed.

So, I write things for Emilio and record videos for him, which I send to a phone that will eventually be his. I save other videos on a USB drive, hoping he will watch them when he grows up, with or without me.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

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