MARQUETTE - Tracy Henriksen went to Marquette Senior High School Monday to pick up some photos of her son Grant.
"When I got there, there were 20 kids or so in the counselor's office crying," she said this morning. "I asked if I could speak to them. I went in to talk to the kids. I wanted them to know that Grant understood. He knew some adults had a hard time talking to him at the end so he would not want his friends in school to feel guilty if they hadn't talked to him recently. I let them know that Grant would not want them to feel bad."
Grant, 15, lost his valiant 2 1/2-year battle with cancer Saturday. The young man whose incandescent smile will always be remembered by anyone who knew him, will be laid to rest Wednesday.
Above, at his home in this 2010 file photo, Grant Henriksen smiled as he looked at some of the get-well presents he had received, including an autographed Nicklas Lidstrom Red Wings jersey, several hats from former NFL coach Steve Mariucci and a University of Michigan cap signed by many of that school’s coaches and athletes who visited Grant while he underwent treatment at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. Below, the “No Oscar” symbol featured on T-shirts is shown. The family requests that those attending the memorial service for Grant wear the shirts if they have them. (Journal file photos)
In a series of Mining Journal stories in 2010, Grant and his family - mother Tracy, father Bill and brother Blake - shared their experiences in battling osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer.
Grant referred to the disease as "Oscar," which was the origin of T-shirts emblazoned with the word Oscar with a red-barred circle surrounding it. These "No Oscar" T-shirts were worn not only by Grant's schoolmates and friends, but by people around the country and around the world as a sign of support.
Tracy Henriksen is hoping to see the shirts again Wednesday.
"I asked my girlfriends to spread the word that if you have an Oscar T-shirt and are coming to the funeral, we hope you'll wear it," she said. "It makes us so proud when we see the shirts."
Without complaint, his mother said, Grant endured the amputation of his left leg, chemotherapy, heart surgery, lung surgery and numerous other medical procedures.
"Grant was the bravest person I have ever met," Henriksen said. "Right to the end, he never would say anything to complain. He might ask for something if his stomach hurt or something, but he would not complain.
"The whole time, I don't know how he did it, but he was able to be so bright and so positive."
In August, the family learned from doctors that Grant's lungs were failing. They were told to start hospice care, but instead went on a scheduled family trip to the Wisconsin Dells.
"Grant wanted to go, so we did," she said. "We'd pull his wheelchair up to the stairs for the rides and he'd crutch it up to the ride. He did that all day long. I think he took just about every ride in the park.
"The doctors couldn't believe it," she said. "But that was Grant - so strong."
Tracy Henriksen said she is grateful for the concern shown for Grant and her whole family.
"We have had wonderful support," she said. "And it's continuing. The pain is not over, but our neighbors, our friends, the whole community, have been wonderful."
Grant's family will greet relatives and friends at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Marquette from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday. A memorial service will be held in the church at 6 p.m. with the Rev. Steve Hulke officiating.
Honorary pallbearers are Frank Drozd, Justin Aboussleman, Brady Aboussleman, Mike Henricksen, Logan Zugger, Holden Shaneberger, Tom Beaudry, Ian Sikina, Peder Seglund, Tage Seglund, Gerrin Rudden and Blake Henriksen.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.