Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Loss of a Good Man

Last week, my step-grandfather passed away.  Jack Hennessey, was a great person to have known for the past 18 years.  It is strange to think that I have known him longer than my biological grandfather who died when I was 13.  Unfortunately, even though I have known him longer, I did not get to know him as well.  College, career, in the way and I only was able to see him a few times a year, usually during holidays when it was a busy time for everyone.  It might not have as deep of a relationship as was possible, but I couldn't help but like, respect, and admire Jack.

Jack served in both the Army and Navy when he was young, and then moved to the small town of Manilla, IA to practice medicine in the mid-1940s.  Jack was known as "Doc" to everyone in town.  He was one of the main doctors in town for almost 50 years...and not just a doctor, but a country doctor that would make house calls and such.  He also had his own practice, worked at the local hospital, volunteered for school sports and community events.  Doc delivered over 2000 babies in his practicing years...almost anyone you meet from the Manilla area seems to know and/or was delivered by Doc.  I've had this conversation several times with several different people:
Me: "I headed to my grandparents house in Manilla for the holidays."    
Random Person: "Hey, I'm from that area...who's your grandparents?"   
Me: "Jack & Lu Hennessey." 
Random Person: <look of deep thought, then smiling> "You mean Doc?  I was delivered by him."

Jack pursued everything he like with zest and pride.  His children and grandchildren, Music, reading, Catholicism, Ireland, and the University of Iowa (his Alma Mater) were just a few of the things he enjoyed and you could tell from anywhere in the house that these were some of his passions.  Photographs, records, books, Irish and Hawkeye mementos abounded.

Jack was paralyzed at the waist in 1998 after surgical complications, but that didn't stop Jack from being Jack. He harbored no anger or bitterness and continued to live the best and fullest life that he could.  Jack was the type person that makes a great role model for all others.  Live life to the fullest, be happy, do good, and have no regrets.

Unfortunately, Jack's health had been declining the last few years.  He had been in and out of the hospital a few times over the past year and went in for the last time a couple weeks ago.  It is sad, but with his failing health he was ready.  There was enough warning of the end that most of his children were able to fly in and say goodbye.  Jack was 93.

I know it will be a hard time for my grandmother and I feel sad for her...but I also know that she is the kind of strong person that can handle this grief and continue to live a happy life.  Grams, if you need anything...your entire family is here to help.

Jack, you will be missed.

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