We have the nicest older gentleman that comes in regularly to our restaurant. He's so kind, and fun to chat with. He likes to side tip the bussers and waitresses rather than add the tip to the bill. He'll call you over real low-key and then slip the money in your hand (and he's quite generous-both with his money and his hugs).
He's been battling cancer, and lost his wife a couple years ago, but his will to live and his love of life are so strong. He never fails to make us all feel grateful and happy when he arrives.
He is a Swiss immigrant and I had heard that there had been a film made about his life. All of us at the restaurant have wanted to see it, but just have never had the chance.
Well, when I started my job at the special-ed preschool, I discovered that one of the other aides was full-blooded Swiss. Being that she was only 24, and obviously not an immigrant, I asked her how that came about in America of all places! She said her parents were both Swiss and happened to meet. Well, I couldn't resist asking if she happened to know our Mr. Ruckli from the restaurant. She said of course she did, he was a distant relative. And I also found out she owned a copy of his film which she was happy to lend to me.
We watched the film the other night. It tells of Fred immigrating to America when he was 19, because he wanted to do better than he could in Switzerland. He wanted the American dream. He ended up working at his uncle's dairy in the SF bay area, but shortly thereafter the Korean War started and he was drafted. If he didn't fight in the war he could not become a citizen, which is what he wanted most of all, so he fought.
Years later he returned to Switzerland and was at a local bar; he told how he was proud of the fact that he could buy everyone there a round of drinks because he was now a successful American citizen. He told them how in America people don't call each other sir, mister or doctor, everyone knows everyone by their first names.
Also in the film, it shows him caring for his elderly wife who suffered a stroke and subsiquently lost her memory. He said now in their later years they could have traveled, but she wouldn't have gotten anything out of it, she was "in her own little world". When Nat heard that she said, "It's just like she's autistic, huh?" Interesting how my girls' understanding of others has expanded by just my working with special needs kids and telling them about them.
A couple days after we had watched his film, Mr Ruckli came into the restaurant with his daughter. I was excited to tell them how I had finally seen the film and how I had enjoyed it. He was surprised when I told him how my 7 and 10 year old watched the whole movie and enjoyed it as well.
It's just a simple little film about a war veteran, a father, a husband, a proud American and a man I know and admire. I would rather recieve a hug from him than any of your "Hollywood types". Mr. Ruckli is my kind of "movie star".