HOLLAND, Mich. — A man along the lakeshore celebrated his 98th birthday on Friday in the same hospital he was born in almost a century ago— Holland Hospital.
Meredith “J” Bruischat was born on March 12, 1923 in the former Holland Hospital, which is now a bed and breakfast right next to Centennial Park.
“98 years ago today I was in the hospital, and I'm still here,” Bruischat joked with FOX 17 when we stopped by his room on Friday.
“I was a preemie— only weighed 2 and a half pounds.”
On his 98th birthday, he is at Holland Hospital once again.
“I think Holland is one of the best places to live in the country, and I lived all over the country,” he said.
He's lived all over the country and around the world— serving our country overseas in New Guinea for 2 and a half years, before coming back to West Michigan and attending Ferris State University under the GI Bill.
His wife of 74 years sadly passed away last year. The couple had 4 sons together, all of them also born at Holland Hospital.
Hospital staff brought him some gifts Friday morning, including a framed photo of the hospital building he was born in all those years ago.
FOX 17 asked him what his secret was for living such a long, fulfilling life...
“I always have a smile on my face, and I take life as it comes, and I think one of the biggest things was I played guitar and sang ever since I was 12 years old,” he said.
“The first song I ever sang, I was 12 years old... at Maplewood school... 'Silver Haired Daddy of Mine', Gene Autry.”
Hospital staff, along with senior chaplin David Blauw, brought a guitar with them Friday to sing a group rendition of 'Happy Birthday'.
But after they were done, there was a surprise in store for us.
Blauw asked him if he could still play guitar and sing.
"I’ll try it… It’s been awhile,” Bruischat responded.
And something special happened when he handed Bruischat the guitar.
He jumped right into 'Silver Haired Daddy of Mine'— the song he first performed in 1935.
After running through the majority of the song, he passed the guitar back.
“I could have done a lot better if I could have sit up,” Bruischat told the room with a smile.
The man who has accomplished so much in West Michigan and beyond will get to spend at least part of his birthday at home. He is expected to be discharged at some point Friday evening.