A good, long life…

November 17, 2010

Kathleen Audrey Lambton Menzies Henderson died at home in Camden, ME on Monday evening, November 8, 2010 of metastatic breast cancer.  She died with her family around her, without pain and “comfortable” to the end.  I was so very lucky to have Kathy as a mum-in-law…luckier still that I never had the difficulties a daughter-in-law sometimes has with the mother of her husband…in the end, her biggest complaint was that she missed her grandchildren…I can live with that.

As part of the process, hus wrote “Kathy’s Life Note”, which was shared with the local newspapers and friends and family.  I’d now like to share it with you, my friends and family.

“Kathy, who lived in Tenants Harbor and Camden, Maine, was born June 28th,1921, the youngest of five children of Guy and Ida Menzies, in Drummoyne, New South Wales, Australia, near Sydney.

Her father was a well known and highly regarded physician in the area, and the history of the entire Menzies family is that of storied war heroes, leading community members and successful, vibrant, fun-loving people.  In school, Kathy was a great student and an accomplished swimmer, winning academic awards and athletic honors alike.

In 1939, as Kathy came of age at eighteen, her world was suddenly at war.  Tragically, her two oldest brothers, Guy and Ian, would be counted among those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their county.  Kathy, her brother Bruce, and her sister Bette all joined the war effort as well. 

Kathy learned Morse code and soon became a vital and trusted part of the secure communication links made necessary by the war.  She also learned how to drive a car and became a military chauffeur, transporting military and civilian leaders and other VIPs to and from important assignments.  Jack Benny was one of her many passengers.

By 1942, the United States had joined the war effort, and Australia was flooded with young American servicemen in transit to the Southwest Pacific, among them, Joe Henderson, an Army officer who found himself stationed for awhile in Melbourne.  A blind date arranged by friends sparked a sixty-five year love affair.

Kathy and Joe were married in Sydney in 1945.  Not long thereafter, Kathy made the long voyage by sea to San Francisco, and then by train across the United States and eventually to Washington, D.C., where Joe was beginning his career as an American diplomat.  Their first son was born in 1947, and then four years later, a second son.

Kathy and Joe would see much of the world as their marriage progressed, with assignments in London, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Toronto.  The work of a Foreign Service Officer demands an understanding and engaged spouse, and Kathy was very much Joe’s partner in representing the United States, becoming active in many cultural, social and outreach organizations as part of that shared experience.

And the little girl who was a good swimmer would become a great golfer. She never put them on display, but she leaves behind a closet full of trophies, cups, and club championships engraved with her name.  Golf was a passion she shared with Joe, and they played the game together regularly throughout their lives.

Once Joe’s career came to a close in 1973, he and Kathy were ready to have a more permanent address, and their lives together in Maine brought them many years of great happiness, a place where they found deep and lasting friendships and a strong sense of belonging.

She left with wonderful memories and with the sure knowledge that she is loved forever.

In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting

Kno-Wal-Lin Hospice and Palliative Care, 170 Pleasant Street, Rockland, ME  04841″

 
 

 

 

Kathleen Audrey Lambton Menzies Henderson

 

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8 Responses to “A good, long life…”

  1. Laura Says:

    Thanks for sharing this Lynna. I know you will miss her.

  2. Laura Says:

    It must have been so hard for her parents to let her go so far away when she married, especially back then. They must have felt like they would never see her again.

    • starstruk Says:

      It was hard…she was the baby and two of her fly-boy brothers had already died. But all was good in the long run and our family is now close to her remaining family down under.

  3. ragtopday Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this news, but what a beautiful letter by your husband. Her life sounds quite fascinating – book material even!

    Hugs to you and your family.

  4. karen Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad, though, that your hus was able to write such a moving tribute. You definitely know what a wonderful woman she was.

  5. Jackie Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful woman! And it’s such a gift to enjoy such a special relationship with a mother-in-law, isn’t it? I too was very close to mine before her death. Thinking of you and your whole family during this time.

  6. Beth Moffitt Haverlah Says:

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. What an interesting life Mrs. Henderson had! You are so fortunate to have had her as a mother-in-law. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute. Again, my condolences.


  7. […] My mother blogged about Kathy’s life, sharing an incredible tribute that my father (Kathy’s son) wrote. My favorite part is the description of the moment that sparked her 6-decade long relationship with my grandfather: By 1942, the United States had joined the war effort, and Australia was flooded with young American servicemen in transit to the Southwest Pacific, among them, Joe Henderson, an Army officer who found himself stationed for awhile in Melbourne.  A blind date arranged by friends sparked a sixty-five year love affair. Kathy and Joe were married in Sydney in 1945.  Not long thereafter, Kathy made the long voyage by sea to San Francisco, and then by train across the United States and eventually to Washington, D.C., where Joe was beginning his career as an American diplomat.  Their first son was born in 1947, and then four years later, a second son. Kathy and Joe would see much of the world as their marriage progressed, with assignments in London, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Toronto.  The work of a Foreign Service Officer demands an understanding and engaged spouse, and Kathy was very much Joe’s partner in representing the United States, becoming active in many cultural, social and outreach organizations as part of that shared experience. And the little girl who was a good swimmer would become a great golfer. She never put them on display, but she leaves behind a closet full of trophies, cups, and club championships engraved with her name.  Golf was a passion she shared with Joe, and they played the game together regularly throughout their lives. […]


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