This is a true story. It's about a sister named Henriette Venema. She was a very loyal JW. A very strong and kind woman, and had been a friend of mine. Henriette had suffered in a concentration camp back in WW2. She even had the tattoo on her wrist with her prisoner numbers. Hennie, as we affectionately called her was the type to write in every crevice of her watchtower when she studied it. She would raise her hand at the meeting and give these long rambling comments and usually the WT conductor would just roll his eyes and let her speak until she was finished with her comment.
I used to go over to Max (her elder husband) and Hennie's house and help them with things since they were getting really old, and had needed help often. Hennie was of Dutch descent, and Max was Dutch/Indonesian. Max had been a prisoner of war at the hands of the Japanese. He used to tell me about being in the war, about his adventures, and how the Japanese had tortured him.
Anyway, back to the story...Sunday morning Watchtower study. I was handling the microphones. This particular morning was one I'll never forget as long as I live. Hennie raised her hand, and the WT conductor tried and failed to call on someone else to comment. You know, because Hennie would ramble on and on. But for some weird reason, this morning, she was called on and gave the most succinct and to the point comments I had ever heard her give. No rambling, just clarity...
I remember thinking to myself wow! What a stellar and to the point comment! Hennie's really on her game today! I also remember seeing the surprised look on Ted's face up there at the podium. It was so unusual for Hennie to comment like that. My eyebrows raised, and I was thinking "You go old gal!". After her comment, the WT study continued for a while. Then I noticed that something was WRONG!
Hennie dropped her head down and passed out. She began to throw up on herself. After a second or two, a sister also noticed something was wrong with Hennie, and we went over to her to see what was going on. I wiped poor Hennie's mouth, and cried out "She's having a stroke! Call 911! Do it now!"...
Someone did finally call 911, and the motherf*cking WT conductor continued the WT study, or tried to, while the emergency responders came in with a stretcher and began checking her eyes to see if they were dilating properly. Ted was still trying to keep the meeting going. The EMT's started to intubate her (put breathing tubes down her throat to keep her air way open) so she could breathe. Hennie was not responding. I was getting really upset with Ted!
He should have stopped everything and had everyone exit the KH. Ted kept trying to keep the meeting going. I loved old Hennie. Poor Max was beside himself. I could see that Max wasn't sure what was going on. Then I saw him realize that his wife of over 60 years was leaving him right there in the Kingdom Hall!
I dropped my microphone and followed Max and the ambulance to the hospital. Poor max. Poor Max! I was there with Max all afternoon while we waited to hear some news about Hennie's condition. My fiance' , who had worked the night shift in the emergency room the night before, came and tried to comfort Max and stand by his side. Others from the hall came and waited with us.
Turns out that Henriette had had a MASSIVE stroke. The bleeding in her head was so bad that it actually forced her brain to one side because of the severe pressure buildup. Later that night Max made the decision to pull the plug. Hennie would have never regained consciousness. The only thing keeping her alive was the medical equipment she was connected to. We all cried together and all I could think about was poor Max. Losing his life partner so suddenly after more than 60 years of marriage.
And Ted...I hated the bastard after that. I don't know how Ted felt inside, but the god damn meeting was not important at all. He should have stopped the damn meeting. It's weird how it took so much more than that, and many more years for me to wake up. That should have been the day I woke up....
Henriette Elenora Venema as a teenager (pre WW2) :
Henriette Elenora Venema September 9th 1925 - May 18th, 2004