Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Uncle Doug

Douglas MacArthur Henning 1942-2014
(photo by Tom Henning)
2014 closed with sad news for my family:

Shortly after Christmas, my uncle, Douglas MacArthur Henning -- my father's younger brother, whose lung cancer had been in remission for nearly a decade -- had fallen ill and requested hospice care.

His fiancée Gina reached out to family and friends as the year's final week began, and we discussed traveling to Florida. But by mid-morning on Tuesday, December 30th ... Doug had passed quietly in his sleep.

The memorial was arranged for the following Wednesday, January 7, 2015, and my father flew down for the day to share his memories of his brother.

Here is the text of my father James' eulogy, celebrating his brother's kind heart, endearing idiosyncrasies, and mischievous sense of humor.


I’m glad I was able to come down for this service.

Believe me, it's an honor to be here.

My wife and I were sorry to see Doug and his family move down here to Florida. We still miss the get-togethers we enjoyed when he, his wife Ann, and their family lived in Queens, and we have many happy memories of those days.

But, I know he enjoyed it down here. He was glad to be away from the cold -- he got frostbitten fingers while changing a tire once. And he loved playing golf, which he played as long as he was able to.

He also liked gardening.

That, of course, he was able to do both here and up north. In Queens, he even did gardening work professionally on weekends. For that, he had a small, open two-wheel trailer he hitched behind his car to carry his gardening tools and other equipment.

Douglas was a generous and kind man, and it was in this trailer that he and a friend transported a piano to Brooklyn for us:

Our sister Barbara, who lived in Brentwood, Long Island at the time, had a piano she wasn't using; it was stored in her garage just taking up space, and she offered it to us.

Our daughter Liz was taking piano lessons at the time, so we happily agreed to take it.

Doug, expecting nothing in return, offered to move the piano for us.
Doug at his sister's birthday party, 2012
(photo by Tom Henning)

Douglas owned a Cadillac at the time. And it was the Cadillac that towed the gardening trailer around.

So I’d like you to imagine the sight as they approached our house on the day of the piano move: a Cadillac pulling this little trailer, festooned with rakes, hoes, and shovels and a piano in the middle.

My wife and I live in an apartment house, so getting the piano up to us was quite a project: Down the back ramp, around some tight corners, and then into and out of the elevator, and finally into our apartment. And he never expected to receive anything for all this work. He and his friend didn't even stay to relax and have some food and drink, but were quickly on their way elsewhere after finishing the move. I never found out what arrangements he might have made with the friend who had helped him, but I’m sure he paid him something.

This was indeed a kind and generous thing to do, and was typical of the man.

Doug was also a very funny guy:

He could keep you laughing for hours, and his jokes and clowning were never nasty, as so much of today’s humor is.

His jokes were often in bad taste, and often not politically correct, but never nasty or mean-spirited.
In particular, I have a story of his which I’d like to tell that is neither in bad taste nor not politically correct:

Once, while waiting to have some x-rays done, Doug, with shirt off, was sitting on the imaging table in his doctor’s x-ray room waiting for the x-ray tech to finish preparing the equipment for taking the x-rays.

The tech apparently noticed the New York Yankees logo Doug had tattooed on his back by his right shoulder and said “Oh, I see you’re a Yankees fan!”. “No”, said Doug, “I’m a Red Sox fan. The guy who did the tattoo, he’s a Yankees fan!”.

Brothers, James and Douglas Henning
(photo by Tom Henning)


Love to you, Uncle Doug! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Catching Up on 2015

Image by Jerry Bezdikian
Seventy-one days into 2015 ... and it feels like years have passed ...

Major developments, new beginnings ... the loss of some friends and loved ones.

I'll get to it bit-by-bit, now that my brain has returned to a more "reflective" mode.

Stay tuned.....