The scene would be Don Mills Tennis Club on any Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. and the sounds would be the cries of red-winged blackbirds, and of Henny's teammates, asking one another "Where's Henny?"
Then we'd spot the familiar slim figure in a blue and green tracksuit walking up the path at an energetic pace, and she'd say "WHY do you guys always come so EARLY?"
As our valiant North York League Captain and as an award-winning tennis player for 40 years, Henny was forthright but fair-minded, a wise and skillful manager of the people on our team. I was fortunate enough to be Henny's partner on three different tennis teams in the past six years, and I learned that her fierce and fiery exterior on the court concealed a kind heart.
Every August it was a joy to behold how warmly Henny welcomed us into the lovely home and garden she had created, at our end-of-season potluck pool party. Henny would talk about Karl, her sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.
She'd reminisce about her early days in Canada, when she worked as a flight attendant, and tell us stories about the birds and other wildlife who lived in the birch trees near her pool. Sometimes it was hard to believe that this affable, hospitable hostess who made such good cakes was the same Henny who was the steely-eyed feisty opponent on the tennis court.
But, hey, these contrasts were exactly what made our Henny such an unforgettable, quirky, strong-minded woman. Who can understand the mysterious formula that makes up a human being?
Henny lived her life with gusto, creativity, and enthusiasm, and was a wonderful friend to many people. That's why we are still trying to come to terms with the loss of a good friend. Our hearts go out to Karl, Peter and Lee-Anne, Robert and Kelly, and to her grandchildren, for their loss is so much greater than ours.