I read obits. I just do. A couple of weeks ago, I opened the website for our local paper and there was Henry smiling back at me. Henry was our friend, our musical friend with the big smile and the amazing voice.
We met Henry one night at a small town bar, we walked in for Karaoke and returned because of Henry, many times. He was a light. And when they stopped having karaoke we stopped being patrons.
Henry was a karaoke DJ. He was the best. He would stand up there in his Jesus tshirts with the gold letters and make everyone sound good. He would play the songs and sing along beside you letting you think you were the star, when all along it was Henry.
Over the years that we knew Henry we found out that he had a following and they enjoyed Henry just as we did. Sometimes we would go out for a karaoke night and be pleasantly surprised to find Henry at the helm. We knew it was going to be a fun night.
He was always our friend. Smiling through his pain and adversity. As we got to know Henry a bit better we learned that he had a plethora of health issues and that he walked with that lilt due to losing the lower part of his leg, sheathed under his pants. We discovered it one day in the summer when he was wearing shorts. We never delved into things as personal as that you just make a mental note and accept it as part of Henry.
But Henry pushed on , the last time we saw Henry, we walked into a small bar in our downtown. We were bidding Bon Voyage to my daughter who was moving to Alaska. We walked in and I excitedly pointed at the stage nudged my daughter and my guy and said “It’s Henry”. The joy was already in the room.
He must have already been battling, he was thinner and more tired looking than the last time, but doing what he loved, singing and making us look good. That night was a blast for all, we were singing and swaying and he was making it happen. A release from reality.
I knew he was in the hospital, my daughter told me in confidence as she had seen him. No details, just that he was there and it was dire. She stopped working shortly after he arrived and we never knew the outcome.
Until October 22, 2019 when I opened the obit page and there was Henry C. McElroy IV smiling back at me. I never even knew his full name until that day. He was just Henry. Lover of music, DJ extraordinare and our friend.
We will miss his gregarious personality, his kind heart and his beautiful voice.
RIP Henry, the time was good.
Till Next Time,