© 2003 by Spider Robinson; all rights reserved.
On Saturday I came out to the office right after breakfast, about 2 PM, to find an e-mail from my agent and friend Eleanor Wood, reporting that Ginny Heinlein is gone. It's 36 hours later as I write this, and I'm still feeling the impact.
Among other impressive achievements, Ginny kept the greatest science fiction writer that ever lived alive, profoundly happy, and working for decades after medical science had written him off. She was his best friend, constant companion, secretary, executive assistant, first reader, and uncredited editor, and she compiled and edited his posthumous memoir, GRUMBLES FROM THE GRAVE—and she was obviously "Tickey," the heroine in his account of their first trip around the world, TRAMP ROYALE. In the 15 years since his death she managed his literary estate and personal legacy with wisdom and great skill. In recent years she had established an online presence, particularly at the Usenet newsgroup alt.fan.heinlein, where she gave generously of her time and energy. (Mutual condolences, valedictories and reminiscences are swamping that group and alt.callahans as I write this.) She was expert in economics, computers, political science and mathematics, a former champion ice dancer, an inveterate world traveler—I have a photo of her and Robert at the South Pole—and a retired lieutenant in the United States Navy. (Robert's first words to her were, "Lieutenant, your slip is showing.") They were married the year I was born.
Today a total stranger on the other side of the continent kindly phoned while I was out, to tell me that he'd been camped out at the hospital for the last few weeks, and just wanted me to know that Ginny had mentioned my wife and me several times with great fondness. Probably as well the machine got it: my response was to burst into tears.
She was the toughest, smartest, fiercest, KINDEST woman I've ever known—a total sweetie to just about anyone who was polite to her, and the worst nightmare come true of those who weren't. I only met her face twice in my life, and by rotten luck I never got to set foot inside any of her homes (although my wife was luckier; Ginny once brought Jeanne home to the Carmel place, and showed her Robert's word processor, and the famous cannon); we knew each other mostly by mail, phone and e-mail. But she was my good friend, I'll never forget her, and I miss her already. I can't decide whether I prefer now to picture her and Robert ice-skating together again, like they used to—or at the rail of another cruise ship, about to Sail Beyond the Sunset—or re-united and crowned at the head of the Grand Parade, about to resume Traveling in Elephants.
One of those.
Like Robert's, her ashes will be strewn in the Pacific Ocean. Maybe she'll finally come to visit me, out here on my island…I'd like that.
Hoist your glasses, friends. A grand old lady has passed.