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  • Brian D. Hinson

A Friend of the Centenarian



In another post, I mentioned meeting a passenger who was over 100 years old. Saturday, I discovered a friend of his.


I got a call for a ride initiated by gogograndparent.com, a service that allows the elderly to get an Uber without a smartphone. The location was a local FedEx store. I waited, no one came. I called the number and got no answer. Inside the store, the only senior there was not Emily.


Back in the car I slowly circled the area, first the Applebee’s. Behind this was an assortment of shops around a courtyard and there at the entrance was an elderly lady seated on a bench with a walker. I had found Emily. She had been at the hair stylist. I assisted her to the front seat. Her walker no longer collapsed, so I placed in its ready-for-action position in the back seat.


It came up in conversation (no, I didn’t ask) that she was 90, and recently celebrated with her children who flew in from Chicago and Denver. I told her she’s not the oldest passenger I’ve had, that would be the guy a few years back who was 101. “Was he tall and thin?” she asked.


“Yes. Walked with a cane. And his hearing was shot.”


“Migrated from Germany?”


“He mentioned that!”


“I knew him. That was Henri. He lived at our facility.”


This blew me away. I never forgot Henri, although I did forget his name. Emily informed me that he died a year after I had met him at 102.


Emily let me know that Henri had led an interesting life. He had been a member of the Hitler Youth, an organization that most youth were pressured into joining at the time. His mother was a touch prescient, and migrated to the States with her son Henri in the 1930s. Henri told me himself that he clearly remembered celebrating in Times Square after the victory over Germany in WW2. Most of his life Henri was a university lecturer. I didn’t get the chance to ask Emily what his subject was.


It saddened me to hear of his death, but it sounded like Henri had a long and interesting go. And that’s about all we can hope for.

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