Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A visit with Hardy, Eleanor and Charlotte Hendren

Hardy Hendren, at home.

Had a fine visit last Saturday to the Duxbury, Mass., home of longtime friends Hardy and Eleanor Hendren, and their granddaughter Charlotte, a student at Dartmouth, her grandfather's alma mater. And I mean longtime friends -- we were reminiscing about our first meeting, almost 25 years ago, as I began work on my first non-fiction book, The Work of Human Hands, about master surgeon and pioneer Hardy, who is now 87 and emeritus Chief of Surgery at Boston Children's Hospital. Wow, almost a quarter of a century.

The dining room set for dinner, fire burning, ancestor Jeremiah Hendren overseeing...

As usual, Eleanor served a great dinner, including rice, cauliflower, candied pineapple and a perfectly roasted lamb. Sweets and good strong coffee for dessert.

Eleanor checking the lamb, coat over head to reduce glare off oven gauges.

When it was time to eat, Hardy carved -- making his customary remarks about how to carve meat -- "like a skin graft," he said, as if we all had experience. As in surgery, a sharp knife and a steady hand are key. Put a set of Loupes on him, and you can imagine him in the OR.

Josh watches Hardy carve.

We had a tour of the basement, where the offices of the W. Hardy Hendren Educational Foundation for Pediatric Surgery and Urology are located. The Foundation has a Facebook page, in addition to a website. Eventually, all of Hardy's vast body of work will be available there. Hardy told many stories as he brought us around -- and we shared many laughs (sorry, inside jokes!).

Hardy with Katy in foundation office. Note the before- and after- photos of conjoined twins (right of clock), two of several he separated over his long surgical career.

We spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Eleanor and Hardy for the first time saw The Work of Human Hands on a Kindle reader. They were also interested in the audio version from Audible/Amazon, which has recently come out.

Kindle in the kitchen, with Eleanor and Hardy!

Hardy launched my non-fiction book career, and I remain deeply grateful to him. I did not expect for him and Eleanor to become such good friends, or Hardy to become godfather of my son, Calvin, but  developments like that keep life's journey one great unfolding story...

Hardy and me, almost 25 years in...

Soon, the sun was setting on beautiful Duxbury Bay. I stepped out to take fresh air from the Hendrens' yard, peaceful as always... 'til next time, dear friends!

Hendrens' yard, 6:35 p.m., March 16, 2013.


  1. What treasures Eleanor, Hardy (and Charlotte!) truly are. A wonderful day - we will do again in May! <3

  2. What a delight!!! I can't tell you how please I was to see Dr. Hendren enjoying dinner with his family and friends!! 20 years ago he performed a life hanging surgery on my daughter Michelle Kats and reversed her urostomy

  3. 23 years ago, Dr Hendren performed life saving surgery on our beautiful daughter, Caitlyn. We will always be eternally grateful! What a wonderful, gifted man he is!!! We will never forget him!
    Larry and Lisa Minor
    Fort Worth, TX

  4. We shared a beautiful afternoon at Dr. Hendres' home with is beautiful wife and Hoover. We Meet his son and family. Toured their beautiful home and ended the day with ice cream. It was such a delight to share that day and the memories of my brother. 55 years ago he saved my brothers life and he (my brother) wanted to show the doctor his beautiful family and let him know that every day is a blessing to be here on earth and share it with his children, and me, his sister (of course). Thank you for such a special day Dr and Mrs. Hendren

  5. How nice it is to have men like Dr. Hendren in the world. He is the best.

  6. How nice it is to have men like Dr. Hendren in the world. He is the best.

  7. Jennifer A. SinclairApril 30, 2016 at 5:04 PM

    Dr. Hendren (and by her unending support of him, Eleanor as well) saved my life in Sept of 1967. I would dead right now, buried as an infant girl, if not for them. I meant him when I was 42 (coincidently he was 42 when he operated on me) and we had a great breakfast together at his house....and he pulled out a thank you letter and photo of me that I sent him when I was 15!!!!!!!!!! (I am not even kidding!). Later, I moved to Hanover, where his family took me out to eat again when they were visiting Dartmouth. An incredible man, an incredible family.