Henry Winkler had no recollection of his grandparents. They were all harrowingly taken to concentration camps, and Winkler only knew of them from stories.
The actor also grew up listening to his classmates at school talk about how their parents took them on trips and how they had a lot of fun with their families. For him, this was something impossible, and he could never relate to such an experience.
If there was one thing Winkler admired about her parents, it was that they escaped from Nazi Germany in 1939 to start a new life in the United States. Thanks to his escape, he can live the life he lives today.
While he sees that as a silver lining, he can’t deny the pain he endured as a child. He described his parents as “emotionally destructive” and claimed that they never listened to him as a child.
In fact, he felt so distant from his own mother that when his son Max once asked him what his memory of his mother was, the actor shared that he had only seen her laugh twice, years apart. Of the particular moments when he laughed,
After everything Winkler experienced as a child, he vowed to become a better father than his own parents ever were to him. While they never listened to what he had to say, he showed his children that he was more than willing to listen.
Every chance she got, Winkler imparted life lessons to her children and even her friends. He remembered that some of his children’s friends came to say that they were having problems with some things. While Winkler’s children would prefer that he just say hello and go, Winkler would spend time with the children and ask them to tell him about their problems.
If there’s one thing he wanted to impart to his children, it’s listening. She noted that in relationships between adults and children, the “listening” part is often missing, with adults thinking that children are too young to understand what they’re going through. However, he believes that this is far from the truth.
Winkler did everything possible to raise her children in the best possible environment. He removed them from the spotlight and ensured they had a “normal and consistent” home life. He also made sure not to repeat the mistakes his parents made towards him, especially being judgmental and “sometimes cruel”.
The actor recalled going to bed every night as a child, thinking that it would be a different father than his. Eventually, he was very true to his word: he never laid a hand on his son, unlike receiving hands and even a hairbrush at one point in his childhood.
Henry Winkler and his mother | Source: YouTube/The Howard Stern Show
One particular incident that marked Winkler was when he was eating breakfast once, and he put his ear to the bowl to hear the “snap, crackle, and pop” of the cereal he was eating. “My mom blew up and chased me around the table,” she recalled in an interview. “All I was doing was listening. How bad was that?”
He cared for his sick mother
In the midst of his prosperous career, Henry Winkler traveled from California to New York to care for his ailing mother, who had been cruel to him during his childhood. Henry’s mother was insulting and critical of him a lot, but in her time of need, he worked around her schedule to become her caretaker.
Despite this, the actor confessed, he “felt guilty” during the days that he could not be there for her. Winkler didn’t believe in providing support from a distance, although some days he had no choice but to.
During those moments, he recalled “watching the will to live slip away from him.” Although he and his sister wanted their mother to recover, she herself had a different perspective on her illness. “It’s like climbing Mount Everest with no clothes on,” he admitted.
When her mother died in 1998, Winkler decided to get involved in stroke awareness campaigns, particularly in relation to upper extremity spasticity, which her mother suffered painfully from.
With around a million people suffering from a stroke each year and with 7% suffering from upper extremity spasticity, he believed that raising awareness of the use of Botox as an approved treatment was something worth sharing.
Winkler has also remained open about her admiration for caregivers, saying it’s a noble and selfless job that involves many sacrifices and sleepless nights. As for the advice you would give to caregivers in difficult situations, it suggests that they accept their feelings of experiencing difficulties.
Don’t think ‘Oh, I shouldn’t have these feelings, I’m being disloyal. I’m not being a good person. You shouldn’t be thinking about me,’” she advised. Winkler believes it’s important to be honest about how you feel, as you could eventually explode if you keep it all to yourself.