Today [The mind’s eye] – family therapist examines relationship between grandfather and granddaughter – Brief Article
A few years ago, when Lauren Anne Zickl was seven, she and her grandfather Fritz Kulman were joking around, as usual, and her father took this portrait of the pair. Kulman, a former fighter pilot, likes to call himself Popeye when he shows off ids pulled muscle, says David Zickl, his son-in-law. Here, author and marriage and family therapist Beverly Engel offers insight on their special relationship.
Lauren: My grandfather is very sociable. When we go out, he’s always talking to everyone. He’ll lift his toupee off his head like it’s a top hat. He’s a really funny guy.
I like to get people laughing. I go places to tell stories. When you get to be my age, the strongest muscle you’ve got is your jaw.
David: He’s always kidding around. He’ll wear really wild colored glow-in-the-dark Hawaiian sweatpants and leather shoes and look totally funny out in public. He likes to take us to his favorite diner. He talks with everybody there and flirts with the waitresses. He has a way of opening conversations. That’s what he likes to do, just sit and talk to all the people.
I tell all these young guys that you come alive when you turn 70.You look over that hill, and you think, “How many more hills will I look over?” You know, I was the youngest of 10 back in Nebraska. I milked four cows at four o’clock in the morning. Then my sisters put the milk in glass bottles. And we would go deliver it in a wagon. Milk was 8 cents a quart back then. I’ve worked all my life.
David: He often relates what’s going on in life to various points during the war. Whenever he gets irritated with me, he’ll say, “You don’t understand what I’ve been through. You don’t know what it takes to fly those jets.” We’ll be washing dishes, and then he relates it to the war.
I know what it’s like to get balls of fire off your wing tip. I couldn’t go left or right; I couldn’t go up, and I was only 50 feet off the ground, and I dived for cover to get out of it. I’ve got a lot of stories to tell.
Fritz is a good role model. Like Fritz, many of the nation’s aging learn to appreciate every day because they don’t know how many they have left. They stop worrying about what they look like or what other people think. They learn to just have fun. We don’t tend to respect and honor our elders as we once did. Instead, they become invisible. I think Fritz senses this and telling his stories is a way to remind himself and others about who he is and what he has accomplished. Elders like Fritz do have interesting stories as well as insights to share. We just need to listen.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Sussex Publishers, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group