I had the honor of eating dinner with Kurt this weekend. He is a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, friend of my grandparents-in-law and in love with my 3-year-old daughter. His eyes sparkle, his being glows with vitality.
His step has a spring to it and he moves easily with clear intention. He takes care of my grandparents—who are just 3 years older—like a parent taking care of a young child. He pushed Ruth’s wheelchair to every meal following her recent heart surgery. He waits on them at the dinner table, bringing them each a plate of salad from the salad bar. He’s the first one up from the table when dinner is done, hastily gathering everyone’s walkers.
He sat across the table from my daughter and beamed at her through the entire meal. She frequently smiled at him and gave him a thumbs-up. At that, Kurt clapped his hands together in front of his heart, shook his head and chuckled. He was smitten with Clara. When there was a possibility that my daughter might have dropped one of her many trinkets on the floor from the dinner table, he was the first one over at her side—then down on his knees—checking the floor.
“What are we going to do about brunch tomorrow?” Ruth asked.
“Should we meet at 12:00?” Kurt replied.
“I’m not sure that I want to eat here,” Ruth clarified. She looked at me and said, “The eggs here are just so…so…taste-less.”
“Ah, then how about pizza?” Kurt offered.
Both Ruth and Burt lit up. Oh, yes, they would love to have pizza. It became obvious that Ruth had been hoping for such an offer since the moment she asked about brunch.
“I know of a place just down the road,” he said. Kurt drives his own car—a large Lincoln Town Car—and he takes Ruth and Burt out often.
I spent the remainder of the meal getting to know Kurt better. I learned that he still travels and will be gone most of April to New York and Florida. He swims a half-hour every day and walks outdoors every day.
I also learned that he was born in Germany near the Polish border in the early 1920’s. He moved to several different German towns during his childhood, ending up in Berlin. He remembers school in Berlin.
“I got the last train out in 1939,” he told me. He had to leave his parents behind and never saw them again. He ended up in Israel and joined the army. He fought the Germans across Europe from Italy to Holland. After the war, he was reunited with a cousin of his in Ireland who had also fled Germany.
Lincoln Town Car photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gridview/11607072363/">Ruud Onos</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href