NEW YORK - Bernie Ditchik, 93, is still driving, playing tennis, sculpting, and, perhaps his most impressive feat, starting a new chapter in his life as an author.
The father of three and grandpa of five served in the Navy during World War II and later went on to run a costume jewelry business. Penning books was never part of his plan. Then he retired and his family suggested he write down the creative bedtime stories he had always come up with in his head.
"I had sent stories to various agents many years ago," Bernie said. "I got absolutely no replies."
At his home in Island Park, Long Island, Bernie read to us from "Grandpa Bernie's Bedtime Stories," his first published book after nearly a decade of trying to convince an agency to take a chance on him. Before that, he gave out copies of books he bound himself.
Bernie's granddaughter, Emily Mandel, has always been in awe of his tenacity.
"It's so exciting, I mean we never thought that this opportunity would happen for him. He just enjoyed telling us stories for our whole lives," Emily said. "So now for him to have his books published is an absolute dream come true and we're so proud of him."
Bernie's wife of 65 years, Faigie, said her husband never fails to amaze her.
"I'm proud of him because he's having so much fun doing what he's doing," Faigie said. "And he really enjoys sitting in that chair and just writing whatever comes to him."
The passionate author gets emotional when he talks about his writing. All of the characters are based on special people in his life.
"I wrote it so that more children – I'm getting choked up," Bernie said. "More children could listen to my stories, read them, enjoy them. That's why I wrote them."
Bernie's published book has 20 stories but he has another 40 stories already written and ready to go. He'd love for more books to get published, but he is grateful just to have the opportunity to keep writing.