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Bob Lind, Published March 25 2012

Lind: Remembering a man who was one in a million

“Leo Henderson was a one-in-a-million guy. During the 30 years I knew him, I don’t ever remember him having a bad day or registering a complaint. The guy was a joy to have around.”

Those are Bob Lee’s sentiments about the man who, as the father of Bob’s wife, Joyce, was his father-in-law.

Bob wrote his story about Leo for the old Moorhead Daily News. He told of both the joy of knowing Leo, and of the decision the family made when they felt it was best for him if he were moved to a nursing home.

Bob’s daughter, Linda Sand of Moorhead, sent a copy of the story to Neighbors because, as she says, it’s a “touching tribute” both to her grandfather Leo and to the staffs of two nursing homes.

Bob wrote that when he first knew him, Leo could tap dance and play the drums, even doing a stint with Lawrence Welk.

But those days were long past when his family made the difficult decision to find a nursing home for him.

The closest they could find was the Good Samaritan in Aneta, N.D.

The day they took him there was a tough one; how, they wondered, would it go for him?

But when they arrived at the home, “A huge burden was lifted” because, he said, “the people there were indescribable. You can’t imagine the love, respect and compassion they have for the aged.

“Maybe it’s just small-town togetherness, but they all met him at the door with an outpouring of love. (They) had his room decorated and called him by name, as though he had been there for years.

“Twenty minutes after we arrived, the janitor found out that Leo liked baseball, and promised to take him to local games.”

The staff took him and other residents downtown, on hay rides, to parks for picnics. And to ball games.

Leo was perfectly content.

On to Arthur

But Aneta was a long haul from Moorhead for his family, so when they found that the Good Samaritan Rest Home in Arthur, N.D., had an opening, they moved him there. And once again, Leo and the family were happy.

Leo passed away some years ago. But the pleasant memories of how the nursing home staffs took care of him linger on.

Bob concluded his story with a message for anyone having a resident in a nursing home, regardless of how nice the place is:

“Many seniors still have very sharp minds,” Bob said. “Some have no living relatives or relatives who have long since forgotten about them. When you see the joy they derive from a pat on the back or a short talk, well, you wonder why you’re not there every day.

“I guess one of the hardest times to bear was when we picked Grandpa up to take him home for short visits,” Bob wrote. “Invariably, a group of his fellow residents would gather around the door to wish him well. None of them would ever mention it, but it was easy to read in their longing eyes that they wished they were being picked up, too.”

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email it to blind@forumcomm.com