James David “JD” Hendrickson
March 23, 1948 - March 15, 2017
James David “JD” Hendrickson, 68, met his Heavenly Father on March 15, 2017 in Sugar Land, Texas. JD was a devoted husband, loving father, doting “Papa D” to his seven grandchildren, and loyal friend to many. He was born to James Ralph Hendrickson and Anna Braudaway Hendrickson on March 23, 1948 in New Orleans, Louisiana and was their only child. He married his college sweetheart, Sharon Ledbetter on May 15, 1971 in Cheyneyville, Louisiana.
JD served in the US Army National Guard from 1967-1972 while attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering degree they relocated to Carrollton, Texas. JD began a lengthy career with Halliburton HES (Otis Engineering) in 1972. His roles would include Field Engineer, Staff Engineer, Design Group Manager and Principle Engineer. In 1998 JD relocated to Sugar Land, Texas where he spent 11 years at Schlumberger as a Project Manager – Packer New Product Development. JD was an accomplished and recognized Petroleum Engineer who was credited with more than 15 patents related to the oil and gas industry.
JD loved the Lord and was dedicated to serving the church body as a Deacon and Adult Sunday School Teacher at Webb Chapel Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Carrollton.
JD was preceded in death by his parents James and Anna Hendrickson, and wife of 44 years Sharon Hendrickson. Survived by his daughters, Sarah Carpenter (Wade), Rebecca Albus (Jeff); brother in-laws, Bill Ledbetter (Barbara), Glenn Ledbetter (Laurie); sister in-law, Ann Roper (Dan); and grandchildren, Angel Albus, Jonathan Albus, Seth Albus, Hannah Albus, Clayton Carpenter, Drew Carpenter, Owen Carpenter; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service is to be held on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 2:00 PM at Kingsland Baptist Church, 20555 Kingsland Blvd, Katy, TX 77450
In lieu of flowers a donation to your local public library is encouraged as JD was an avid reader and lifelong learner.
That's the second obituary in the last 12.75 months in which I have been listed as one of the two surviving daughters. Twice in less than 13 months I have held the lifeless hand of a parent. The two people who welcomed me into this world on August 12, 1979 have both departed from this world. At 37 years old, I'm an orphan. Parentless. And that reality hurts.
We had planned a visit for the latter part of Spring Break week to see my Dad. We knew that, with baseball and Spring activities coming up, we wouldn't have another opportunity for a visit until June. So, we asked my Dad if we could come down Wednesday through Friday of Spring Break week. He, of course, answered with an enthusiastic, "yes!"
We got a late start leaving town on Wednesday morning. We intended to leave by 10:00 but didn't get away until 10:50. I texted he and my sister at 11:43 to let them no that we got a late start and the GPS said that we would be there at 3:40. Then we hit traffic, and our journey got even longer. We texted back and forth several times on our way down. The last text that I got from my Dad was at 3:21.
We pulled up to his house at 4:10 - less than 50 minutes since his last text. We knocked but he didn't answer. We rang the doorbell, but he didn't come. We called his phone, but he didn't pick up. We assumed that he had fallen asleep, so we let ourselves in with my key. Wade immediately went to the back door to take Brody outside. I went straight to the stairs (arms still carrying a load of things from the car). I just knew that he was upstairs in his bed asleep. He would want for me to wake him and let him know that we had arrived.
Wade said my name (in a casual way, not a frightened tone) while I was still on the second step. I didn't sense that anything was wrong, so I didn't move quickly. He looked at me across the kitchen and said, "Put your stuff down. Your Dad fell." Then I panicked. What if he broke something? He's got to be in pain. I have to help him.
I threw my stuff on the table and ran outside. It was bad. It was horrific, in fact. I knew immediately that he was gone. I couldn't do anything to help him. I felt for a pulse, knowing that there wouldn't be one. We called 911, knowing that none of their life saving equipment could save this life. I sobbed over his body and begged him to forgive me for not being there. I should have been there. He was too good of a man to die by himself.
EMS came and immediately the paramedic said, "I'm sorry, but your Father is dead." He saw what I saw - signs that there was nothing more, medically, to be done. He had to say what he said in the way that he said it, though. It's what we are trained to do. You use clear language to convey to the family that their family member is deceased. You don't leave any room for them to wonder about what you are saying. He said what he was trained to say. But the finality of his statement was still hard to hear. He printed a strip that showed a flatline and said that he was sorry for our loss. He was professional, but caring. A police officer came and told us that we had to step away from the body. She apologized but said that, because his death was "unwitnessed," they had to rule out any criminal activity. I'm sure that is protocol, but, man, it stinks. I didn't get to spend all of the time that I wanted saying goodbye. I had to leave him there lying on the ground outside. That was devastating.
At this point, I had no idea where my kids were. I remember seeing them looking through the backdoor while I was crying. They saw everything. God, please take those images from them. Erase those seconds of time when their young hearts saw the ugly parts of death. Oh, how I wish that they hadn't seen that. When we got back inside, I realized that the firemen had taken the kids outside. They gave them stickers and tried to distract them. That was kind of them. I will never know who they were, but I am grateful that they saw a need and filled that need. Public servants don't get enough credit.
The next few hours were spent gathering pill bottles to figure out what medications he was on. Searching for his wallet, keys, and cell phone. Trying to crack the security code on his lock screen. Listening as the police officer called the medical examiner to come and pick up his body for an autopsy. Finding a sheet so that they could cover him up so that everyone who walked past the glass door didn't have to have a visual reminder of what had taken place. I had to call people. Tell people. Retell the horror that I had just experienced. Shock is such a weird state. You feel removed from your body. Like what is happening isn't actually happening. Surely, this isn't real. Surely, he isn't really gone. Surely, this isn't as bad as it seems like it is. Wait, is that blood on my hand? Oh gosh, this is real.
Next there was a sleepless night followed by the checklist that you go through after someone dies. Unfortunately, we know this checklist by memory. We just did this a little over a year ago. Call the funeral home. Burial or cremation? Choose an urn. Talk to the organ donation people and answer a million of their questions, most of which you don't know the answer to. Find out when the church is available for a service. Meet with the pastor. Choose Dad's favorite hymns and verses. Contact everyone who you can think of that may want to pay their respects, praying that you don't forget someone in your frazzled state.
The next couple of days kept running together. What day is it? I bet that I asked that 20 times. I was just confused. My in-laws came and immediately went to work trying to organize the chaos. My best friend went to my house and got all of the clothes that we needed for the memorial service. We had brought tee shirts, jeans, and athletic shorts. We were all set for a few fun days with Papa D, this isn't what we planned for. My college roommates ordered food to be delivered. Tons of people texted their condolences, Scripture, and made us feel loved. People were incredibly kind to us.
Then Saturday was the memorial service. My Dad was a brilliant introvert. He didn't need a ton of friends or to be surrounded by people. He had a handful of good friends, and that was all that he needed. So, we expected a small service and set up chairs for 50 people.
Leah & Todd came to the house to bring us coffee and our clothes. Bless them for leaving at 5am to be with us for awhile before the service. Sometimes, you just need your best friends. We got dressed and got to the church an hour early and set up. The rotunda area where we held the service was really pretty - overlooking the prayer garden. Light streamed in from the huge windows and everywhere you looked there were flowers - signs of Spring and signs of life. My Dad would have loved that setting.
People started showing up - my mom's brother, my cousin & his wife, my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and nieces, dear friends from our church in Keller, my friend Abbey who now lives in Katy and her Mom, my roommates from college, friends of Becca & Jeff, coworkers from various stages of my father's career... All of these precious people dropped their Saturday plans to be with us. They drove far distances. They spent money on gas. They arranged childcare. They went to great lengths on short notice because they knew that our hearts were hurting. I was overwhelmed with emotion at each face that I saw. I didn't deserve that kind of support. I'm grateful that I received more love than I have earned. People are kind.
The pastor did an exceptional job. He has been a gentle shepherd to us at both my Mom's service and my Dad's. He even played the guitar and sang the hymns for Dad's service. How Great Thou Art, It is Well With My Soul, and When We All Get to Heaven - just what my Dad would have wanted to hear. Dad's best friend spoke about their brotherly relationship. My Dad adored Reggie. Clayton (unprompted and unbeknownst to me) stood up there and spoke about his grandfather. That boy is mature beyond his years and blesses me with his tender heart. I was so proud of the way that he conducted himself. My oldest nephew also spoke about his Papa D in such a precious way. These boys that are 12 and 13 did something that I couldn't. So proud of them. Wade spoke and did a beautiful job. He is such a rock, that guy. He speaks straight from his heart and always says the perfect things. He spoke so highly of my Dad. He talked about his servant heart and how his actions were fruit of his faith in Christ. He effortlessly presented the Gospel. He made sure that no one left that room without hearing about Christ and how He impacts the life of a Believer. Praise God for using my husband in the way that He has.
My in-laws took the kids home after the service. They cooked meals, washed clothes, went to the grocery store, and set us up to come home to an orderly home. I'm so grateful for them.
Wade and I stayed in Sugar Land for an extra day. We made lists and strategized with Becca & Jeff about the weeks to come. Then we drove home, mostly silent because of the sheer exhaustion.
This morning, we didn't wake the kids up for school. We let them sleep as long as their weary bodies needed to sleep. We talked about how our friends were probably all going to be discussing their fun Spring Breaks. Even though we didn't have the same experiences, we are glad for our friends and we don't want to steal their joy. We told them that their teachers are praying for them and there for them if they need to talk. We encouraged them to do their best. We talked about praying every time that they feel anxious. The lump in my throat grew with every Scripture and every piece of advice that I shared. I was speaking to myself as much as I was speaking to them. Share in the joy of others, even in your own heartache. Don't worry - see how the Lord cares for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. He cares much more for you. Don't be anxious, rather come to Him by prayer and petition with your needs. Those were all things that I needed to hear. I have much more confidence in my kids being able to do those things than myself.
I've already gotten several emails from teachers reassuring me that my kids are doing well today. I have been told that there have been a few tears and more Kleenex than usual, but that they are surrounded my friends that are loving on them. I know that they are in an environment where they will be loved, but, gosh, it was hard to send them. God, be with them. Hold them close throughout the day. You know them and love them even more than I do. Minister to them in a way that only You can.
The last 13 months have been so horrific. I know that this is the Lord's plan for me. I surrender my life to Him in every respect. I want to go through whatever He has chosen for me. I want for Him to mold me into exactly who He wants me to be. I will do anything to know Him more and to grow in Him. I know that the troubles of this earth are momentary and fleeting compared to an eternity in Heaven. I know that He is in control and has allowed all of my suffering. I know that this suffering will make me complete in Him. I 100% trust Him and His sovereignty.
But, that doesn't mean that I'm not sad. I am sad. It doesn't mean that I don't sometimes wish that He had chosen a different lot for me. I do, in fact, wish that. It doesn't mean that I don't look around me and compare my circumstances to those around me. I am surrounded by people with absolutely beautiful hearts. People who I know are faithful followers of Christ. People who serve His people well. People who selflessly love out of the love that they have received from our Father. People who don't have any malice in their heart. And sometimes, when I compare my life to theirs, it feels like I drew the short straw. It feels like God is punishing me. It feels like He sees them as good and me as bad. It feels like I earned my lot and they earned theirs. It feels like somehow blessings are tied to good behavior and sorrows are tied to bad.
But, I know that my God is not a series of if/then statements. He doesn't change his plans based on my actions. He is the God of the universe and He does as He sees fit. Of course, we should reflect on what He is teaching us in the midst of suffering. We should always start there. I agree with that wholeheartedly. But, I refuse to see God as anything less than both a righteous judge and a loving Father. He cannot be one without the other. He is both. Not all suffering is punishment. He doesn't bless the good and punish the bad. That's not how it works. Sometimes we suffer for good (religious persecution). Sometimes we suffer for bad (we make bad choices and suffer the consequences of those actions). And sometimes we suffer just to suffer. Sometimes it is just to grow us and prepare us for life to come. Sometimes it is to help us to minister to others in the future. Sometimes it is so that we will see His character in a deeper way. It isn't so simple as to say, you did x so y will happen. My God is much deeper than that. And all I know right now is that I trust Him. I trust Him with every ounce of my being. I know that He is good even when everything else is bad. I know that He loves me even when He allows sorrow to come my way. I know that I want to glorify Him even when life is hard. I know that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His love for me hasn't changed just because my circumstances have. God my life is Yours, and I will praise you when life is easy and when it is hard. I love you and trust you above all else.