If you have read any of my posts on my time in Trinidad, then you would be somewhat familiar with Parker Henderson. He was a friend, a Grandfather figure, and an inspiration to me. He spent the majority of his life in the mission field along with his wife and children. He is a legend as far as missionaries are concerned, or at least he is to me.
On the morning of June 22, I received a text message from a friend informing me that Parker, at 92 years young, had passed. The flood of emotions were unlike any I had experienced before. I immediately broke down in uncontrolled sobs. I texted my dad and let him know and then my husband, who was at work.
For the rest of the day I tried to figure out a way to be able to attend a funeral in Lubbock, Texas, over a thousand miles away. That was not in the realm of possibility for me at that time. I had just visited my parents in Texas in late March, early April. Trying to make that trip again that soon just wasn’t likely. Knowing this made it all worse. Finding out a couple of days later that the service would be streamed live over YouTube made not being able to be there, bearable.
My parents, of course, were planning on attending, along with some very dear friends of ours who would make the trip from Trinidad to be there. There were people coming all the way from Thailand as well.
The next couple of days, my mind was bombarded with memories of Parker and our time with him and Donna in Trinidad: mundane memories, and memories that made me laugh out loud followed immediately by uncontrolled tears. My nights were even filled with dreams of Parker.
On June 26, the day of the service, I was up around 7 and doing my regular morning routine. I got the coffee on, went out to feed the animals, came in and fixed my coffee. The morning went by so slow. The funeral didn’t start till 11:00 my time, and it seemed like I could find nothing that could pass that time quick enough to satisfy me. I had informed my kids that they didn’t have to watch with me but I was going to, and I really wanted quiet during that time. They are old enough that that request was totally possible. They both said that they wanted to be there with me and I was fine with that.
Around 10:30 I turned our TV on YouTube and checked the time and screen continuously. At 10:54 I decided I would go to the restroom so I wouldn’t have to leave the room during the service.
While I was washing my hands, I began hearing music playing, and my son yelled out that it was starting. I hurried down the hall and turned the corner, looking up at the screen that is mounted on our wall. I immediately recognized the back of my dad’s head, and yelled out, “It’s Daddy! Look, it’s Ma and Papa!” My parents were right in the center of my TV screen and after letting out a sob, tears began flooding my eyes and running down my cheeks. I felt so weak at that point that I stumbled back a little as I attempted to find my chair.
I fumbled around trying to get my Messenger on my phone pulled up. Through the sobs and tears, I managed to text my mom, “I can see you!” I saw my mom look down at her phone and start looking around for the camera. She turned around and was smiling at me. She then showed the text to my dad, I saw him read the message and then he turned around and smiled at me. Being able to see my parents throughout the service helped me feel more like I was really there. It is hard to put into words how comforting that was but at the same time, how much more painful it made it all.
Parker’s service was beautiful. Just seeing how many people where there from so many different places and countries, not to mention how many of us who were attending via YouTube, really was a testament to how many people he had an impact on. He will be missed, but every time I hear the song “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”, I will think of him.