Heinz was born in Germany during World War II and now resides in upstate New York.  In his 70’s, he is seeking to better understand his world, experience the full joy of life and be a good friend to his coffee buddies.  He is a great story teller.  I found his story to be inspirational and a reminder that we continue to learn and grow throughout our years on this Earth.

     Heinz told me his story over a loaf of Country White Bread at an antique shop in Jeddo, New York.  I never did get his last name but his tale was indelible.  He spoke of his friends who sometimes need him in a very special way, people facing life’s challenges and joys.  Heinz seemed determined to be a good friend in good times and bad.  I got the impression this helping role was new to him.

     He was hungry for knowledge and asked many questions about psychology and depression.  Heinz was seeking a full life, filling empty spaces. I was impressed by his sincere quest for knowledge and intrigued by this man in his 70's wanting to learn more about life.  He had a sense of urgency recognizing that time may be running out.

     Heinz told me of his work years as a Master Tinsmith and Master Plumber.  At age 14 in Germany, he was told that a vocational trade would be his life’s work. He learned from skilled craftsmen and moved forward in his trade.  He accepted this designated career with pride.

     I sensed that he was raised with a great deal of certainty and direction.  His path set by others. He complied.  He accepted his life, worked hard and was a man of rules.

     He traveled to America in search of a job, first settled in Chicago and moved to Lockport NY with the help of a friend.  He met his wife after placing an advertisement in a German newspaper.  He studied the many response letters. He picked three. He traveled to Germany, met the three women and brought his wife back to America.  Two daughters were later added to the family.

     I sensed that American society challenged his belief system.  In Germany, questioning authority was not a part of his world, but was a huge part of his new American life.  He stayed with what he knew and unfortunately was separated from his daughters and others.  I get the sense that his cynical nature was one of his attempts to acclimate to his new world.  I don’t think it always worked well for him.

     The story moves on with a daughter that travels away and a wife that dies too soon.  Heinz feels the loneliness of a man imprisoned and he seeks to change his life.  He tries to stay in contact with his estranged daughter, offers to help.  He seeks to understand his love for his wife, even in her absence.  He is trying new ways, reaching out to others, offering a caring and vulnerable side and continuing his never ending journey to the American way of life.

     I am grateful for his friendship and I cherish our time together.  

     Eastern European “Whiskey Bread” is the bread of choice for Heinz.