Henry, a portrait included in his book, “The Long Road for Home”
When Grandma passed in February, we quietly speculated that Grandpa would not be far behind. After 66 years of marriage, their souls were so deeply connected; we knew in our hearts that they couldn’t be separated for long.
On Halloween, Grandpa fell and broke his hip. Alex and I rushed down to visit him in the hospital. When we arrived, I wanted to be sure I saw him before they took him into surgery, knowing the risks of operating on a 92-year-old. Grandpa was tenacious, as always — he made it through the surgery and was eventually discharged to a rehabilitation center. Unfortunately, not long after, he developed a serious infection and was called to glory on Veteran’s Day.
Henry and Kay, with Justice Rehnquist, at Henry’s retirement from the Supreme Court
Grandpa (Henry C. Lind) was always one of my most brag-worthy relatives. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Grandpa’s law career eventually led him to the Supreme Court. He served as the court’s Reporter of Decisions from 1979-1987, editing and publishing the court’s opinions. He often regaled us with stories of the Justices, including the time he pushed the court to make a decision on the official spelling of the word “marijuana.” He had a passion for genealogy and history (especially Civil War history) which he shared throughout his life and in the book he published, “The Long Road for Home.” On several occasions, my sisters and I took advantage of his knowledge and convinced him to speak at our schools.
Kay and Henry
Regardless of our pride in his professional accomplishments, Grandpa always made it clear that we were the ones he was proud of. Whenever we would go out to dine with him, he would brag to our server that we were “three of his ten grandchildren – nine granddaughters and one grandson.” The few times that we attended church with him and Grandma in Lake of the Woods, he would always lift up our presence as a joy. Embarrassing as it often was, there was never any doubt that we were loved.
In September, I was able to spend a few hours alone with him one afternoon. We sat on the porch of his assisted living facility together while I listened to him talk about his glory days. I tried hard to soak him in, asking lots of questions about his life and our family. Several times, I offered to retrieve him drinks from the refrigerator in his apartment (a selection which included such things as prune juice and Ensure.) Each time, he insisted that I, his treasured guest, get something for myself as well.
After he passed, I drove back down to be with my mom as she began handling his affairs. When we notified the staff at his assisted living facility of his death, they cried with us, hugged us, and reaffirmed what we already knew to be true — that he was sitting on a porch with Grandma in Heaven, sipping martinis and smoking cigarettes like they loved to do. I love and miss you, Grandpa.
December 5, 2013