On November 2, 1919 our father was born in Florissant Missouri, the fifth child of eleven children born to his parents Bertha and Nicholas Hendel. He grew up in Florissant, went to Sacred Heart Elementary School across the street from the store where he lived and worked with his brothers and sisters. He was able to attend Christian Brothers College/High School outside of Saint Louis. He served in the Army Air Corps in WWII and eventually married his sweetheart, Anita Meyer, from the Meyer clan who lived out on a farm seven miles outside of downtown Florissant, marrying her in 1949. They brought five children into the world some of whom have their own families. He experienced the highs and lows of two wars, WWII and Korea and brushed with the conflict in Vietnam in the 1960’s. After retiring from the military, he went on to a second career with the State Compensation Insurance Fund in San Francisco and he saw his family grow until unexpectedly losing his wife, our mother in 2005. I think it deeply affected his emotional heart, but somehow he is strong and resilient, continues to believe and love his family, and last Saturday, November 2, 2019 celebrated his 100th birthday. Wow! He is a centenarian, unbelievable.
How was his birthday celebration? He was able to see his immediate family, all fifteen of us for an hour at Sunrise Senior Living, enjoying a grand birthday cake, ice cream, balloons and heard us sing “Happy Birthday” to him and receiving cards from a few family members. He also received two cards that were signed at two family reunions in June, by his surviving sisters, nieces, nephews and other family members.
Larry Hendel, our dad, pop-pop to his grandchildren, has lived a long life, more years than we ever imagined he would live, and we are grateful for every day of his life. His memory is diminished, he can tell our sister that he knows this wonderful person Jean (his daughter) who does such wonderful things for him, taking him to coffee, ensuring he receives care and love, but not associating her with the memory he has of her at times. We know somewhere deep inside he sorely misses the love of his life, our mother, and we take consolation that one day he will join her in the communion of saints, in the heavenly reign where all will be well and all will be well for we believe in the resurrection of the dead. In the meantime, we are grateful he is cheerful, can sing a litany of songs and join in the sing-alongs that Richard leads in the memory care unit at Sunrise. Happy Birthday, Dad, and we’ll accept each additional day as gift.
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor