Monday, July 2, 2012

Dear John...

John Henseler

His name was John. I had known him for almost 12 years.

He was a simple person and I mean that in the most complimentary manner.

John was always polite, knowledgeable and definitely from the midwest where people tend to scare Northerners with their friendliness.

I spoke with him about 3 weeks ago - 3 weeks before his passing from a 2 year battle with colon cancer.

I don't always know what to say when someone passes on to the great spaces. Death is a reality for most, an afterthought for some, and a non-topic for others.

As a survivor, you are measured in inches. You are measured with instruments. You are measured by stats.

It can be said that John has converted to the final stat - the stat that scares nations.

I submit to all survivors and those that have fought and lost, that the stat that is never measured is character.

Character lies in the fight. We are dragged into this. No one raises their hand and says "pick me". It's a lottery. We start the fight, Day 1.

Our struggle? Normal life.

John walked the halls with a funny gait. Arthritis took its toll on his joints but never dulled his clear blue eyes. He always kept a military cut for his hair.

In the end, his walk was a pure struggle. His khakis barely clung to his hips after losing an undeterminable amount of weight.

I would ask him how he was doing.

"Pretty good. Doctors are getting together. They will call me"

A week would go by and I'd ask the same question.

That answer was always the same. In hindsight, he didn't want anyone to know. He knew he was a walking signpost and yet people still didn't truly know.

Character to keep marching. Character to do his job until, literally, the very end. Character to ask others how their day is going when your insides are dying.

I can't say anything that will make John or generations of others come back. I can honor them for the fight they put up 24/7/365 even if they aren't given that long to begin with.

There is no Rocky theme playing.

There is no fly by overhead. No fanfare by John Williams ushering the hero to a monument.

They are just people trying to live a normal life. There should be a coronation just for that.

Dear John,

I miss you...

Signed Joe

Here's your fly by....and sign off.

Just know that some of us won't be seeing you for at least another 50 years....


  1. To those who had the privilege of knowing John - either personally or professionally - he will ALWAYS be more than "another statistic".

    Well done, Joe. Well done!

  2. A powerful an extraordinary man. May we learn from him.......

    Thank you, Joe, for helping us know this man....
    Mary SS

  3. Thank you for honouring John Williams, a man I never met yet will remember because of your blog. Your last line made me laugh. I've shared a comment on Facebook as I have heard that cancer hates oxygen before. Just going to walk around the garden (won't take long).

  4. To Hearingwell, It was John Henseler that pass on. John Williams is a conductor and composer. Thank you for viewing the blog. Most appreciated by all. He was a good man...

    1. I'm sorry, I read that last part wrongly. Long may you prosper.

  5. Joe,
    That was a touching way to honor John. Simple but direct.
    He was a good and gentle man that will be greatly missed.

    Thanks for doing this. Great job.
    D Sav


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