Our friends at GRANDPARENTSLINK.COM recently sat down with their friend, Henry Winkler (now a grandfather). We thought you’d enjoy seeing what Fonzie is up to these days.
In case you are too young or from another planet…Fonzie was Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli a fictional character played by Henry Winkler in the American sitcom Happy Days
GPL: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We know you often speak about your beautiful wife Stacey and your loving relationship. How long have you been married?
Henry: Well, since 1978. So you tell me, since I’m dyslexic. I think 39 years.
GPL: And you have three kids, and how many grandchildren?
Henry: We have four grandkids and they all live close by. In fact, our daughter, her husband and two kids are working on their house right now, and they’ve moved in with us. It is joyful!
GPL: Is your best role ever — Father or Grandfather?
Henry: Well, I love being a Dad. The only thing is that you’re limited as a granddad because there are different rules because you’re not the parent, so you have to learn the rules in the same way, along with the grandchild. Sometimes, I talk out of turn and get looks from every direction.
GPL: Do you think that sometimes you have to “zip it”?
Henry: Sometimes you have to zip it, without a doubt. Zipping is very important.
GPL: Yep, we think so too, but it’s hard to zip it.
Henry: Yes, especially when they are sitting on the arm of the chair at dinner and if they fell backwards…but they have great parents. And I should just zip it.
GPL: Would you say you’re more a helicopter “I’m in control” type of granddad, or are you more of a laid-back grandpa?
Henry: I’ve learned to be laid-back. I’ve learned to just go where the conversation goes with them.
GPL: What about Stacey? Is she kind of laid-back too?
Henry: Oh, Stacey is one of the greatest nanas of all time.
GPL: Do your grandkids know what you do for a living?
Henry: They do. At least two of them know. One of them might, but doesn’t say anything. The other is too young. With the five-year-old, I sit on the couch and we watch reruns, and he looks at me. Then he looks at the screen, and back at me, and says, “Your hair is different.” “Yes, thank you very much.” And he says, “You were slimmer then.” And I reply, “Oh, thank you, thank you. Let’s watch something else right now!”
GPL: As you are talking about your grandkids, is there any particular situation with them that especially stands out?
Henry: I can’t remember anything offhand because every day there is something new… Yesterday, I drove my five-year-old grandson to school, and we talked about vocabulary. I told him how wonderful his vocabulary is. He didn’t know what the word “vocabulary” meant, and now he does. He also noticed that the trees were manicured in a different way on the street where we were driving. It was almost as if they were manicured in order to create the most amount of shade on the windows of the building behind. He observes everything. I’m sure all children do. They are unbelievably funny. He stuck his face in his birthday cake. The kids love to dress up in costume.
GPL: What you are talking about here is being mindful. What you did in the car yesterday, talking about vocabulary and noticing the manicured trees. That’s all being right there in the moment, just the two of you and nobody else is around.
Henry: It’s like you’ve eaten a breakfast of smiles. For the rest of the day, it just keeps shooting back into your mind about how cozy it was, how interesting it was, how interested he was. It’s being in the moment when it’s happening, and you’re not so busy that you miss it.
GPL: So, it doesn’t really seem like you have a favorite thing to do with your grandchildren. What we are hearing is your favorite thing is to just “be” with them.
Henry: We play “Beanie Babies,” and I’m the monkey Milton. I use a different voice and I have to ask permission to come down from the tree to play with the Beanie Babies.
GPL: It’s a gift to be a grandparent.
Henry: Yes, there’s nothing better. It’s really true. It’s a feeling that overwhelms you.