When Paul was a boy living in suburban Chicago around Christmas time a small stray puppy was roaming his neighborhood. One day it ran into his house. The family ran around trying to catch this stray little interloper in their house but he ran out of the house, turned around and ran back in. Finally Paul's mother, Betty, was able to wrangle him and hold him until Heinz, Paul's father, was able to put him in a box and take him down to the local pound.
Heinz, always being the animal lover, called to check on the little fella a few days later only to find out that he was still there and scheduled for euthanasia on Christmas Eve. Heinz would have been mortified that a pup would be euthanized on any day, but Christmas Eve was not even a consideration. He crammed his hat on his head, said "no one dies on Christmas eve" and headed out to he pound to rescue his pup. Hence the family had a new family dog they named Freddie.
This was Heinz - a big, bear of a man, German, with a big booming voice, an anger that you did not want aimed at you. However, he also had a heart of gold, he was known to tear up when talking about his mother whom he dearly loved or his experiences growing up in Berlin during WWII.
His back yard was like a wildlife sanctuary - when chipmunks invaded his front walkway and tunneled under, thus threatening to collapse the entire walk, he did not poison them, he trapped them in a live trap and drove them 10 miles from home to "relocate" them.
When I first met Heinz - visiting on spring break with Paul one year - he gave me a huge bear hug. OK, this might have been because Paul's previous girlfriend was a complete freak and it was such a relief to see a normal girl - but I like to think it was because Heinz knew in his heart that I was the one.
We lost Heinz one year ago and it seemed impossible that we would survive a month much less a year without him. However to not survive that year would have been completely contrary to everything Heinz had prepared us for all those years - to be like him. Strong, independent compassionate, loving to each other and holding each other up. He would not want us to wallow I know, but I think he'd like to know that Zachary asks to hear about him so he can have the benefit of learning from his life - and reminding us of those lessons too.