Heinz had heard about Mickey Mouse. I taught him about Donald Duck.He would ask about local news he had seen on the front page in a newspaper box while waiting at a red light before cycling on. Not wanting to anger him with details he knew(Mickey Mouse) and trying to explain what was unknown to him(Donald Duck), was a fine balance.
"Who is Robert De Niro?" Stop. He's Mickey Mouse. That's not what I said. I could not reply. Heinz lay on his mattress holding Der Spiegel. He looked at me, waiting, as if the question were just a question. On video, we had watched together The Godfather: The Complete Epic, 1902-1958(386 minutes). He had thought it incredibly well done. In the intervening years, I have learned more about Heinz through his response to the film. Robert De Niro played the young man who became the godfather. No recall. Having supported an unwell wife and two stepchildren in a war zone, Heinz could not remember the character and why/how he became the godfather. Recounting more details without success, I gave up when he did not remember the towel wrapped around a gun igniting around De Niro,s hand. Knowing Heinz would know-comments he had made while viewing the film-I said "He's the guy who was running on rooftops, jumped from one level to another and you worry about his knees.: "Oh that guy!" Heinz replied without hesitation, his tone portraying 'why didn't you say that in the first place?' It had been hard to learn that Heinz had not remembered the cap De Niro wore. Heinz was a cap man. The scene in which the young man silently places a pear upon the kitchen table for his wife is one I treasure. It would have been special for Heinz; recalling it together was not possible.
Diagnosed schizophrenic, the brother of Heinz's first wife was put to death by the Third Reich. A damaged Aryan. Heinz married her to prevent a similar fate. He told me these facts once. Following discussions were details of carrying on; surviving the war. After the marriage ended, he sent half his income or more to her in the years the children were attending school.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Heinz spoke english with a German-English accent. Softening the a of dance/France/chance was classic. In school, a teacher informed him a second language will be spoken well when you dream in that language. Heinz would offer himself as proof to the contrary. He had dreamed in english for years before I knew him.. His ex-wife Carol, a teacher would correct his english. To my dismay, when I would mention his speech, he did try to improve. No, no, no, please do not change. From then on, whenever I mentioned his words I emphasized how precious they were to me. Heinz , they are a part of you.
Found in translation, travelling from language to language, a sweet addition Heinz could not help but remember. Written upon his face; he had a story to tell. How often had I seen that dancing face? It did not disappoint. For each of us, happiness began before the story was told. He would need to pause as the combination of laughing and smiling pushed aside speaking. Working in Quebec, travelling in France, people called him "einz".