S2 Episode 16 with Dyara & George Henderson

March 05, 2023 02:04:33
S2 Episode 16 with Dyara & George Henderson
Disability Empowerment Now
S2 Episode 16 with Dyara & George Henderson

Mar 05 2023 | 02:04:33

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Show Notes

Dyara and George Henderson are the parents of the late Jonathan Henderson, who Keith had known for over 20 years. Dyara Henderson is from Adelphi, Maryland. Ms. Henderson attended City College of New York and holds a Master’s of Christian Education and Counseling. A lifelong reader, passionate about working with youth; she has volunteered with […]
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Episode Transcript

Welcome to Disability Empowerment. Now, Season 2. I'm your host, Keith Murfee-DeConcini. Today I will be talking to the parents of the late Jonathan Henderson, who I've known for over 20 or 25 years. Please welcome to the show, Dyara and George Henderson Dyara: Hi Keith. Keith: Hi. So thank you so much for agreeing to come on and talk about the life and legacy of your son and one of my closest friends ever, Jonathan Henderson. I understand that George will be joining us momentarily. So to begin with just the most overarching question for you, who was Johnathan Edward Henderson? Dyara: Jonathan many times I just called him John and his friends called him Hendo. He was a pretty neat guy, a kid who started life with learning disabilities and challenges, who developed into a well loved person, martial artist, dancer, philosopher, friend. He was a kind of renaissance man. He wrote poetry. I'm not quite sure whether he sang, he sang a little bit, but he definitely wrote poetry and articles and was very thoughtful. I liked him a lot. You know, you love your children, but then do you like the person who they become? And I liked him as a person. Keith: Indeed, there was a lot to like about Jonathan. I first met him when I was in elementary school and he was transitioning to middle school. His last year of elementary school was when I met him and I had no idea we would run into each other and become as tight-net as we were, not only through middle school, but the remainder of his life. I remember interviewing him a few months before he passed for an academic paper on masculinity and disability, and it was only until the last few months of his life that I learned much to my surprise that he was autistic. I was surprised because I had known him for over 20 years, and that was complete news to me and so talk about his diagnosis along with learning disabilities and how hard it was to get him diagnosed if it was even hard. Dyara: Well, you know, today the capstone, the term is autistic spectrum. You're on the autistic spectrum, that's the generalized term that they're using today. We came along 30 something years ago, and the terms were a lot different. It was a pervasive developmental disorder. It was hyperlexic, meaning that you learned how to read, but you couldn't necessarily understand what you were reading. It was PDD, those were the terms learning disability, those were the terms that were prevalent during my years of dealing with it. We noticed that he took in a lot of information, but it was difficult in expressive language and so we of course, followed the normal route. We took him to the pediatrician. The pediatrician said, well, he's at home and put him in preschool, which we did. That was the first issue because he had taught himself to read by the time he was three and a half, he was quote unquote hyperlexic. He could read anything, but he couldn't answer direct questions. He had expressive language challenges. And so he also liked to bite at three and a half and the teacher would get angry because she would ask him about saying cat, he would walk around the room and say, xylophone and zipper. So he couldn't handle the simple, but he definitely could handle complex words by reading and it made her frustrated. And I think that she used to try and restrain him and he would bite her. That was the usual process. And at least several, no, I'm saying at least several times a week, they called me and I came and I picked him up and took him home. And so it was out of that atmosphere that we began the testing process because something wasn't right. And we went to Children's Hospital and began the speech and language, the developmental milestones testing, et cetera. So a diagnosis, the lab school, we went to the lab school for occupational therapy and finally we hired an advocate and she recommended a school in Northern Virginia that focused specifically on speech therapy. And then we got a lawyer involved, we sued PG County and sort of got close to a mixed diagnosis, developmental disorder, hyperlexic but it wasn't until he got into high school that we got a specific definition discussion about autism. Because he was all over the place. He scored seventies to a hundred and thirties and other, I mean, he was from simple to genius and they didn't know what to do with it. Keith: And so how did his own relationship with his diagnosis of autism, or he told me he preferred the original terminology, Asperger syndrome. How did his relationship with that disability evolve over his life? Or did he talk about it at all? Dyara: Well, we got, he became aware, I guess, going to the Harvard School, he came home one day and asked what did he have? I guess that would be the best way to put it. And we began to talk about Asperger's syndrome. We never really talked about autism like I said, that didn't come out until he was in high school. He was also really angry at one point, frustrated and one of the psychologists at the Harbor School, Dr.Trabue, was meeting with him. I don't know if you remember Dr. Trabue and it was during those discussions with Dr. Trabue and myself and assessing his anger, et cetera, and the areas of his challenges that we began to talk about, about his disability. He wanted to know more about it. I've forgotten the name of the book. We have it upstairs. I got him the book because he was a prolific reader and he began to read and research it and, you know, we could discuss the things that reflected Asperger like activities, communication levels, issues of touch. The Hyper Alexia, which was reading at three and a half, he decoded at language reading at three and a half. And so by the time he became a young adult, a teenager, he had, I always called him weird, you're weird. You're a weird kid. He grew he was on terms with it. He identified himself as Asperger's. I keep saying that the autistic definition came up in high school because they wanted to put him at High Point High School and because he had done well on the SAT and they were like, we don't want to pay for him to go to this private school any longer. And we vehemently disagreed and she came back and she said, well, if you want him to stay at the Harbor School, we need to give him a different label. We need to define him, give him a label of a 10, which means that he would be autistic. And our attitude was like, we don't care what you call him. We want the quality of education that he's getting at the Harbor School that he's definitely not going to get at High Point. And so, yeah, you want to call him autistic. Call him autistic. We don't care. Keith: So when was the first time Jonathan became aware of racism? And how did you, as a family, handle that conversation with your son? Dyara: Mm, I think he became more aware of classism before racism became an issue. Jonathan, because of all the speech therapy and all these expressive language issues, always had a particular type of diction, and didn't necessarily, because we don't necessarily speak in, in slang and street lingo, neighborhood lingo. And so he went on a trip with a group of high school students from one of the local high schools, and they terrorized him because he didn't know the name of the latest jeans because he said actually, because he spoke a certain way and they called him white. They called him a lot of derogatory names to the point that he wrote in a later essay that he felt like killing one of the kids. Okay. Then he got really angry. And so I think that was his first experience that dealt with that. But then, as you know, I'm very political and we had a lot of discussions about race and class and history and slavery at the dining room table. So I don't know any personal experience besides that class trip. I know a kid spit on him when he was at Ivymount which is what got us started at TaeKwonDo, because I felt that it was better than killing the kid. And so, you know, that’s an interesting question. But he became a very strong advocate of equal justice for all and that was broad and included, not only class, but color, disability, women. He was a tremendous advocate. So if there was one thing that I could say about him was that he was very empathetic. He had a really broad sense of justice and fairness and being non-judgmental as part of who he was. Keith: Yes, yes. It was a very detailed answer. Thank you. What was his relationship to anger and how did he handle it, eventually throughout his life? Dyara: Those years of maybe 12, 13, 14, he was angry about a lot of stuff he was angry about politics. He was angry about, I guess, his disability. He was angry at being teased at school. Dr. Trabue began to have counseling sessions with him. We agreed that that was a fruitful process for him to explore what he was thinking and what he was feeling. And so I really believe that the intervention that we started, when that issue arose, became valuable as he went on. I mean, I think I have it repaired. There was a place upstairs in the room where he punched the wall and put a hole in the wall. There was another incident where he pushed his grandmother. And despite my inclination to just go ahead and kill him for putting his hands on my mother, I went to the TaeKwonDo school and we told the master, the sensei of the class, and he demoted him from brown belt back to a red belt. Took him a whole year to earn his brown belt back as a part of the discipline for not using his, you know, his strength and his abilities in a correct way. I thought that that was a more appropriate response to his demonstration of anger, and actually putting his hands on someone. There were a couple of things. It was that, it was a hole in the wall. He got in the face of one of the teachers at the Ivy Monks School. There were threads of that anger up for several years, but I believe that he worked it through. At least rationalizing it, at least being able to talk himself through it and come to a reasonable solution instead of expressing. And one of the things that Jonathan had because of his martial arts training, was not to express his anger physically. And so that helped, you know, you can get mad and walk away, but your hands become a weapon at a third degree black belt. He got his fourth degree black belt in 2005. So there was no point at which he could raise his hands to hit someone and it not become a very serious matter. So that was a balancing factor in how he expressed his anger. Keith: Now we can’t talk about your son or really your family without mentioning your very deep Christian faith. And I got to know him so much through faith and through our shared experience with anger issues on opposite sides of the racial divide. But when I think about your son, I always remember his faith. At what point, how early on was his faith instilled in him? And even though I know how important his faith was throughout his life please talk about the profound result of his Christian faith on everything he did. Dyara: We're a faithful household. Let me just start there. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in God. And so it was that our faith permeates our life. So we sit at the table and we give thanks for our food. We pray, we pray over them and we teach them to pray. We talked about God. We took them to church. Jonathan gave his life to Christ, I think he was eight or nine and if you understand how his mind works, he had to learn everything. He had to read the whole Bible. He had to, I mean, he just read and read. He was a prolific reader. He was more philosophical. He always had deep questions. And as he grew older, he had questions about faith and God, he never lost that fundamental, strong belief that guided who he was as a person. So his relationship with women, his relationship with alcohol, his relationship with drugs, with other people, the way how he carried himself, the way how he responded to situations grew out of that innate faith that he had, that you can say that you have faith and that you believe, but unless you live it out, then it really is simply an acquiescence to, yeah, I believe this. Yeah I'm a Christian. Jonathan lived it out over and over since his death. We have had people come to us and say, John spoke into my life. John was the light in my life. People that we didn't even know. John saved me from a bad marriage. He counseled me. John was able to take his faith and live it in a very practical way. And if there was any gift that I am grateful that we gave him was an environment for that faith to grow and to be nurtured. Keith: One of the most powerful examples of his faith hit me at a very early age. We were in middle school at the time together and he got me into so many Christian music groups. POD, Skillet, Project 86, Jaws of Clay, SwitchFoot and the list goes on and on, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention DC Talk, Disciples of Christ. And around this time, the latest album was called, Free At Last based off the iconic Martin Luther King and on that CD they did a number of little sketches in between their tracks and one of them they said “we are just hunks in a negro serving the law.” And I really liked that particularly because that group was very racially conscious from the get go. SO we were having lunch at McDonalds after a class trip and I was 14 at the time. I think John was 12 or 11 and I had referenced that skit all the way through except I used the wrong N word and it was a complete Freudian slip. I wasn’t aware that I said anything wrong, until I saw the look for anguish, disgust, and anger, justifiably so, on Johnathons face. And I remember my reaction as clear as day. I banged my head down on the table and wished in that 13 or 14 year old mind, I may have been 12 at the time, I don’t know, that the table would kill me. As much as someone grief stricken could and for the next three days your son did not talk to me at all. The only way I got back into his good graces was I bought him the then, latest Jaws of Clays album, If I left the Zoo, and we were golden from that point onwards. It is very ironic that it took me into a preteen or early teenage years to fully grasp and understand that words matter. And your son offered me grace and it still moves me to this day, and it will for the rest of my life. Did he ever tell me about that incident? Dyara: No, he didn't. You told me about it, but he didn't. He didn't. But I can tell you that he really enjoyed coming over to your house in DC and spending time with you. He never talked about it. Never talked about it. I think he worked it out with you and he was passionate. He was passionate about race. He was passionate about justice and he was passionate about accepting people for who they are, no matter what color, sex that was, just who he was. And we had a friend who passed away from an asthma attack about three weeks ago, and we were surprised to find out that this man at 51 was so much older. He was almost 10 years older than Jonathan when he used to come to our house. And at his young age, this young man had learning disabilities. John was able to transcend the years and give this young man a place of freedom, an area of no judgment. And we were like, how did they become such good friends? He just accepted him. When he died, I had a friend show up at the door with Kim and he said, Mrs. Henderson, I just wanted to come and pay my respects. She said, when I met Jonathan. I'd been through all kinds of issues with my learning disabilities, and he said, but John got me from the very first time that he met me. He got me, he understood me, and we related. He was the first person who ever reached out and pulled me in and got me the first time, and yeah. I link all of that to who he was, whether it was race or whatever. He had that capacity. Keith: So going back to his schooling, how hard was it to get him accommodations or was it hard? And how was his schooling experience overall. Dyara: I would say it was a good experience. The hardest period was the period from about three and a half, four up until five, because he went to Ivymount at five, and then he went from Ivymount to the Harbor School. And we had the normal kinds of, you know, miss Mr. Kaufman, the normal kinds of teacher and student back and forth homework. But overall, we were very satisfied with the education that he got at Ivymount and at the Harbor School. However, the real fight was at three and a half, four, because they were determined that he was, and I'm going to use the, I'm gonna use the term MR. Well, I'll just use the term MR okay. We could demonstrate that he was reading and writing. They said it was commensurate with his mental abilities, his capacity to learn, and they put him in a school with other MR students. The first day he went, he was eating his shoe. I lost it. We went to Prince George's County and they said, well, this is what you have, you know, you are in denial. This is what you have. And we asked for further hearings and they told us, if you know, this is what we're gonna give you, sue us. Oh, you know, it's crazy to tell an attorney to sue you. Right? Keith: Absolutely. Dyara: And so we walked out of that meeting and we sued PG County and went through hiring a lawyer, hiring an advocate, taking him to, Dr. Stickrid, who is a psycho neurologist for testing. And did the whole nine ERs extensive testing and PG came back to us at right about age five and said, okay, we'll give you the accommodations and the private school. And we said that we wanted IvyMountain, but we lived in Fort Washington, Maryland, which at that time was like a two and a half hour drive, two hour drive maybe. And so it would be around between getting to school and back would be around four hours, a four hour trip. He was age five and we said we would sell our house. And so that's what we did. We sold our house in Fort Washington and found this house, which was the closest house to the border between Montgomery County and PG County. And really, those were the hard years. The preschool put him out. He went to Northern Virginia Speech and Language Center and then to Ivy Mount. But those were the really hard years and then making sure that what was written in the IEP was actually carried out, and that it was not there for just window dressing. So George and I were involved parents. We read everything. We went to every meeting. We followed the notebook. I mean the part of working with a child who has learning challenges, is to be a strong advocate. You are your child's voice and you have the child's best interest at heart. And you know, if it doesn't sit well in your gut, then work on it. And I do believe that parents know their children better than outside professionals. So if I tell you this is happening with my child and you're coming to me with a discussion from a textbook, then we have a problem. Keith: What was his overall health like, physical health as a child, and how did it change as he became a teenager and a young adult? Dyara: As a child he had endless ear infections, endless bouts with strep throat, to the point that he gave me strep throat three times. I think he had strep over five or six times to the point that they decided to remove his tonsils and adenoids and that helped a lot. And their ear infections gradually became less after that he had issues with asthma, he had issues with breathing. He had every possible allergy in the book. Okay. I used to send him to camp with a list. I used to send him to a friend's house. Now you can't give him this, you can't give him that. You can't let this touch this. And so that for most of his childhood were the issues that we dealt with. As he got older, the allergies remained and the asthma remained, the asthmatic issues remained. But I started him in TaeKwonDo at age six, and that really made a difference. It made a difference in his weight. It made a difference in his confidence. It made a difference in his health because he exercised regularly. We went to TaeKwonDo three times a week, sometimes four times on Saturday. So as he got older, I would say that he would, he became progressively healthier, to the point that his allergies diminished and he began to eat ice cream and lasagna, ketchup, et cetera. So the allergies went away but what we didn't know was that he had a genetic issue with his heart because who would've thought that as physically fit as he was? That that was an underlying issue? Keith: Yes. We'll get to that. As important as faith was to Johnathon, I could think of nothing to compare the importance of his faith to that of his family. Take about Johnathon’s very close-knit relationship to his family throughout his life. Seamlessly I want to guess it’s first breath to his very last breath. Dyara: Well, you know, I'm a marry-in to the Henderson's family. George just made it in. But, the Henderson family has met so that you get some perspective on this. The Henderson family has met every year in a family reunion for the last 54 years. For the last 54 years. And my husband's father was a part of that legacy and we became a part of that legacy. So when he was born, he was just one of the Henderson babies and he was embraced and they loved him passionately. We are a family that meets during Covid, we had, what, three family reunions by Zoom. He communicated with his young cousins. They loved him, he played with them, he practiced TaeKwonDo with them. And so he became an integral part of his family, his extended family, as a youngster to his uncles and older cousins. And then when, as he became older, he was that cousin Jonathan, as they were to him. And so the legacy continued. The bonds were tight and integral and we'd have family reunions every year and until he started working after college, he made all of those family reunions. And so, for 15, 16, 17, 18, 20 something years, that's what we did. And so it was a knitted fabric. It was who you are. It was the Henderson Klan. I mean, you didn't even have to think about it. That's who he was a part of and I think that you saw that at his home going, you know, it's so vital. George is here. Do you wanna, you want to say something to that? George: Hello, Keith. It's good to be here. I'm just getting back from appointments. But yeah, the family has always been very, very close, very tight. As Dyara indicated, my father was one of the founders. The first year that there was a Henderson family reunion my father was an intricate part of that, along with his father, who really is the real patriarch of all of this. But we were closely connected and our father found Jonathan just a great child. Jonathan loved his grandfather. His grandfather loved him dearly and there were many times that we have pictures with him and his grandfather just enjoying each other, whether it be at Virginia Beach when we went to travel or in Georgia or Ohio, where the different family members were. And, Jonathan was always a very intricate part of that and everyone loved him. He had the kind of spirit that made you want to embrace him. He was never obnoxious. He was always kind and gentle. And so the younger cousins found him to be really like a big brother or big cousin. And he had a tremendous way of embracing the children. He could play with any children no matter what age they were. He demonstrated an ability and the parents felt very safe, that he was a very safe person to be with their children, to have fun with their children. And that's his legacy. Keith: So the closeness of his friends and the diversity of his hobbies, talk about those things because as important as his faith and family was, his hobbies and his friends were very much an extension of his Klan, so talk about that. DyaraL I would be, before I get to that, I would be remiss if I did not talk about Jonathan's relationship with his sister. His sister, Talia. Keith: Indeed, indeed. Dyara: They were tight. I had a rule that you couldn't hit your sister. Well, she would test that to the 8th degree . She would stand outside his room and she would call, in order not to get into it with her, he would lock her outside of his room and she would stand out there and she would call him and she would call him, and he would just ignore her because he didn't want to hurt her. I don't think that I ever had to discipline Jonathan over hitting his sister. Her first nightclub trip to see one of the bands that they enjoyed so much. He sneaked her out of the house and took her to that. They were tight. They loved each other passionately. And the joke is that when she went to University of Maryland, she went there in the, he was finishing his last semester, and she was beginning, and the word was out. That is John Henderson's sister. Okay. That's who that is. And, you know, you understood what that meant for the folks who called him Hendo when he was a part of the karate club at Maryland. Talia complained that, you know, nobody wanted to talk to her because she was Jonathan Henderson's sister and that meant that she was under protective order. I started John in TaeKwonDo at age six. A kid spat on him at school. He was big, he was gentle. And I was an angry mama bear, and felt that the best way to handle that was to teach him how to defend himself. And so, for a kid with LD, he didn't have good hand eye coordination and so baseball and those other sports were not available. And I wasn't sure that with his auditory processing issues that they were even going to work and so we registered in TaeKwonDo, and as you know, he really succeeded at that. And then he decided that he wanted to explore every martial art under the sun. And so he did Kappa Guerra, Jujitsu, and Kung Fu. He tried them all. Some he belted in and others he didn't. And then one day he came and he told me that he wanted to dance. And I was like, okay, you wanna dance? Well just go dance. And he began to go to urban artistry and I often smiled because all of his first dance moves were karate moves. Okay? I would look at those kicks and those slides and then say you gotta put a little bit more grace into it. In between all of that, Jonathan wrote, he wrote poetry, he wrote music. I have two pieces of his artwork in the house here on our walls. He drew, he painted. He was, as I said at the beginning, a renaissance kid. He had a lot of talents and he was able to touch all of them at different points of his life. The writing was 13, 14, 15. TaeKwonDo started at age six. The dancing started around maybe 25 or or 28. It wasn't a singular progression. It was sort of integrated as he became interested in other areas, Keith: Anything to add to that George? George: Well, I think that Dyara has summed it up very well. The different stages that he took on different experiences, which is always fascinating. He would go to these different areas, especially with the dancing, there were moves that he made with the dancing that still is hard to imagine someone as large as he was being able to do splits totally, completely. Also, because he took his TaeKwonDo to everything that he did, he was able to jump, kick and he was just really fascinating to anyone who had the occasion to see him. They were always impressed, but the thing that I loved about it, he did things with modesty. He was not a show off, but he just had tremendous skills and abilities and he didn't mind exercising those. So we have a lot of fond memories of him doing these various things. So, those are my comments on that issue. Dyara: He was also a political animal. He went to demonstrations, he supported causes. He was always there for his friends. He acted, that was another piece that I forgot about. Keith: Bingo. Dyara: He had an acting career. Bingo, you know. About a year or so, maybe two years after John passed, a young woman at church said to me she was watching a movie and she saw Jonathan. I said, nah, you didn't see Jonathan. She said, I did see Jonathan. I know Jonathan, when I saw Jonathan, I said, okay, okay. I'm not gonna argue. She said, I'm gonna get the name of the movie and get it for you. And sure enough, IMDB Love Different. He has a published movie, a movie that is sold on Amazon and I was just flabbergasted. Now I knew he would go out for acting gigs with Kim Hong, who's another great friend but, you know, he never told me that it went into production and was released. He never quite said so. So I contacted the director of the movie and told him what had happened and he sent me a copy. So that's how I have a copy of Love Difference. So that's his, that's the movie that's on Amazon that features Jonathan. Keith: I bought that movie for like a few bucks but even if it cost me five times more than what it did, I would have bought it. The scene that he's primarily featured in is just being himself, the quintessential Jonathan. They managed to capture his essence for a few minutes. So what was it like as his parents preparing Jonathan for his relationships with the opposite sex and when he eventually found the person he was going to marry, how was your reaction to his eventual engagement? Dyara: Can I be frank? Keith: Absolutely, I would have it no other way. Dyara: So what I said was, don't bring home any hoochie mama. Okay. I don't want her, if she's sitting in front of me and I can see all the way up, she's hanging out in front of me. That's not who I would like you to bring home. Bring me home, somebody different. Bring me home. Someone who has, as a woman who has respect for her body, who has respect for herself, who carries herself. I don't care whether she's black or white or another nationality, that was not important to me. I just wanted someone who respected herself. I don't know whether you grasp that, but those were my only parameters. Okay. So one of the first young women that he brought home, I felt that she was using him because she didn't drive and she wanted a chauffeur. And everywhere that she went, she called him. Like my attitude towards that is if you're going to date somebody, date a woman who is independent, who if you have children, who can get your children to where they need to be, you want a woman whose feet are on the ground and she's strong and she's independent, and that's who I represented. So that was sort of, you know, if I gave any parameters, those were the parameters that I gave. When I met Michelle, Michelle was all of that. Michelle worked, she was a teacher. She drove, she had a life. She was articulate. She was a warm, loving, she has, let me put it that way, a warm, loving personality. You could sit and chat with her about anything. Yes. I really love Michelle. And I did tell Michelle, don't be a widow. You were not married to him, go ahead and live your life. And so Michelle a year or so ago, she got married to a young man that she met, and we met him and we had lunch with him. I encouraged her to do that. I wanted her to know that it was okay. So we still talk. We share texts and we've been out to dinner and lunch and those things, and so we're still connected. I really felt that they dated for four years and she was good in his life. George: Also, when they became engaged, I was trying to remember the ring that they bought for each other, but there's a story behind that, and Dyara you might remember it a little bit more, but I think it's significant how they exchanged their engagement rings. Dyara: Yes. He, they both wore rings as, you know, John was always allergic, so he couldn't wear any of the other metals and he got a titanium ring. But there is a Brazilian tradition that the man wears a ring also that says that he is committed to a woman and to the woman that he's going to marry. And Jonathan chose to wear that ring to signify his relationship with Michelle and that he was committed to her. And I really thought that that was an important outward sign of their relationship. As a matter of fact, when I gave Michelle that ring in the emergency room because I knew that I wanted her to have it. And so that's the kind of commitment that he had. And I really respected that. Keith: Before we continue into the end of his life and the legacy he leaves behind, I would be amiss to not mention our countless similarities but particularly in Pop Culture, we were very connected through Sonic the HedgeHog. Talia, I think I am safe to say, has us both beat in that addiction. He was more into Teenage Ninja Turtles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and his nickname Hento to my remembrance was a combination of the first few letters of his last name then Nintendo. Is that correct? Dyara: That’s correct. Keith: I was very much a Sega fan, Sonic. I never made the jump as much as he did crossed platform. Jonathan was taken from this world far too quickly and way too soon, I remember getting the last text I would ever get from him, a birthday text either on my birthday or the day after which was Halloween. He said “hey brother, just thinking of you. Happy Birthday. I love you.” I never responded to that because I was always under the impression that he would always be there. I roped him into being my future best man very easily. We would often joke that we would be the two old folks in rocking chairs laughing and trading quote unquote war stories. And I remember getting a chance to meet Michelle with him, but missing that chance. So if you could take me back to that time and the process of going through not only his death but also going through the amazing outpouring of love from family and friends. Dyara: It was a shock. John had woken up that morning and we were having a discussion about whether he needed asthma medication or whether he wanted to buy tires. And he said, well, mom, I look, talk to me after I drink my coffee, which was, that's how I am in the morning. George, the stable one, he pops up, I'm like, give me some coffee before you talk to me. And so was John. And he came downstairs and he got his coffee and began to have issues, difficulty breathing. I asked him if he wanted me to call the ambulance. He said, yes. He left here at 8:30AM. We couldn't ride in the ambulance. They said to meet us at the hospital. I jumped in clothes. By the time I got there at nine o'clock, he was dead. I can tell you that only faith is what kept me. Certainly, I thought, if you would to ask me outside of the experience, what would I have done? I would've said I would go crazy and I didn't. I stood on my faith. I said, I trusted God and that's what I stood on. I didn't know he knew so many people. I knew that we had a church family and a Henderson family that were going to be there. And they were significant because he was a vital part of that church. He moved between our church and Marinatha a church around the corner in College Park. But then there were people from the people that he danced with, the people that he did TaeKwonDo with, the people that he did Kappa Guerra with, the people that he did political organizing. My memory of that day is not as sharp I was barely functioning. But I believe that we had somewhere between five to 600 people in that auditorium. George: That's right. Dyara: And I really believe over and over those people who got close enough to talk to me, those people who sent me emails, cards, they said one thing that Jonathan was the light in our life. Jonathan was the faith. Jonathan really made me come to faith. I was at Daniel Mick's wedding, and Jessica Micks turned to me and she said, “I knew Jonathan before I met Daniel.” I said, huh, she said, “yes, my husband was abusing me and I needed somebody to depend on, and Jonathan was there. Jonathan would come and sleep on my couch to make sure that I was okay. And then I met Daniel through Jonathan, and that's how I met Daniel.” And it was that kind of relationship. I didn't know anything about that relationship. And that's the other thing, he never talked about those relationships. So those things that people shared with him that were private, were private. I didn't know about that relationship that he had with Jessica. Micks. I knew that he loved his godson. Issac and I knew about that relationship, but I didn't know anything about Jessica. So, Jonathan had an influence that was greater than even I knew about and we knew about and we knew about. And that home going celebration, which is what it was, was an example of that. GeorgeL Also, I'm not sure, because I came in a little late. I'm not sure if you covered this area, but I think it's significant. I went back and pulled some writings of Jonathan to give a sense of who he was at 15, at 20. And based on what he wrote and the fact that they're dated, we know how old he was. And so Jonathan, as a young boy coming up, I served as an elder and a pastor in my church. And so on Thursday nights we would have Bible study and we would have a youth church. And Jonathan was very intricately involved in that. And one of the things that I would do driving home, we lived approximately 35 minutes from the church on weeknights, during the week it could be a little bit longer because of traffic. But when we got into the car, I asked him what he learned? What were the lessons? And we made that a part of what we did every week for him to talk and share. So he had started the process of receiving understanding, then being able to articulate it and share it. And one of the things that we discovered after Jonathan had passed away, we were in his room and we began to look at papers that he had written, notebooks. And what he has written is prolific. At some point we are looking to publish some of those. But one of the pieces I looked at, and it's, he was age 15, and what I'm holding in my hand is actually a handwritten note that he wrote at age 15. And he talks about what he had learned in church and church school. And he said this, he said, “Paul talks about the spiritual gifts and then about them and then he say that there's something better, there's a better way, and that better way is love.” And he practiced that and he referred to that in the Bible and Corinthians. Then he goes on to say, in this handwritten nose, he say, “God can tell when people want spiritual gifts for personal gain. When people have love, God knows people will use the gifts for the growth of the kingdom and for people in need.” So he was always very much aware as he got his training, to put it into practical application. What does this mean for Jonathan Henderson? How do I take that biblical training and apply it to everyday living? And then he goes on to say he says, “Love stands on two pillars, patience and kindness. But it's impossible. Though it may seem impossible by human means, it cannot be done. It requires a relationship with God.” Then he says, “It doesn't stop you from being angry.” He said, “even if you have love, that does not stop you from being angry, having major disappointments or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just blowing someone out of the water.” So he was able to take what he had learned to say it's not a guarantee that you would never have these issues, but you know how to turn back and repent and ask for forgiveness, should you use it in the wrong way. And then he concluded on that page, he said, "Love isn’t impossible unless it is rooted and grounded in God, and it must allow the Holy Spirit to reign inside of you in order for it to be affected.” And so when I saw that, it was just a tremendous blessing to me and then there were several other writings. And like I said, there was one thing that he wrote down from a message and he dates things. One of the things that I taught our children to do, you know, being an attorney, I said, is very important that you write dates down because if it ever becomes a matter that needs to be established for evidentiary reasons, you will have a date and you know exactly when it was. So it's contemporaneous to the events occurring. And he wrote this statement down and gave credit to the pastor who brought the message. And he writes the date down to be February the fifth, 2011. And he goes on to say one of the significant words he says, “even on your worst day, you still have eternal life.” So he makes it very clear that you can make mistakes even though you've asked God to come into your heart. And he says, on your worst day, you still have eternal life. So it does not disqualify you because there's always available, the ability to repent. And I thought that was significant. Dyara: Keith, that discussion that we were having about McDonald's, this is 2014, 2010, he's 15. This is about the same time that he says love stands on two pillars, patience and kindness. George: Absolutely. And then another thing Keith that I found, I went and found the obituary and something that Jonathan had written on June the fifth, 2012. And it says, Jonathan Henderson's Father's Day, a Son's perspective. Now this is his writing that we were able to locate and we of course put it in his program. But he talks about father's and the need for having strong fathers in the home because a lot of the young people that he worked with were in juvenile delinquency, because he did become a juvenile probation officer. And one of the things that really disappointed him was that he would go to homes and many of the homes did not have books, computers, and other things that the children needed. But they were big, expensive homes, but the children were being neglected and he saw many of these young people that he was dealing with in juvenile delinquency. They lacked having a father figure in the home that supported them, that encouraged them, and those types of things. And he sets that out and then he goes on to say, “I did not always agree with or understand my dad's directions. There were times I did not cooperate and I rebelled. I know I'm not the only one. However, I'm grateful for the love, patience, and discipline my dad exhibited to me and instilled in me. I appreciate him being a firm and fair father. I also thank him for being active in my life and staying married and faithful to my mom. A new shape of understanding could be gained if you consider that these youth do not experience love, patience, and discipline regularly. There is present resentment or indifference toward their progenitors as they see the actual father having nothing to do with himself or his mother. The mothers do the best they can, but in the end they know that there are things a man needs to teach a young man. I believe the young man knows this too, so they venture into the streets broadly. They search for a family more specifically, they search for a father figure. They will follow the example and the behavior of that father figure of what is done within the family because the saving grace of Jesus is not present in those lives a number of results happen, all leading to eventual self-destruction. We need fathers to step in, step up, not just because it is a responsible thing to do, but also because of the consequences of when that responsibility is dismissed.” And I thought that was just a profound writing for him to have written on these issues. And that's the reason we put it in his obituary for people to see this was the person that Jonathan was. Dyara: Bless his heart. Keith: So before we go on to the celebration of life, which as Dyara said, was truly a celebration. I remember exactly where I was, when he passed. I had just woken up and I was in the process of feeding my dog Pepper, who had her feeding bowl in my tiny New York apartment bathroom. And for some reason that morning my head went up too fast because in order to feed my dog, I had to bend over to put the bowl down. And so I hit my head very violently, completely by accident, so much that my parents who were in the living room heard it and got concerned. And I remember looking at my watch, and it was around the time he was in the ambulance. And I will always remember that moment because it was extremely significant. For some reason, later that day, I called Daniel, no, he actually called me and he told me the news, and then my world stopped. I remember thinking, there must be some mistake. He must not be having a good day. He must be drunk, whatever. I was in denial and it wasn't until I talked to you Dyara that the shock hit me. And for about the next month, I was in a haze. I remember the celebration very vividly because I was documenting it and it doesn't surprise me at all that we had six, 700 people in that auditorium. How was it organizing the five different acts of your son's life before we got to George's larger than life sing off of his son? I know you were surprised about how many people showed up, but organizing all that must have been difficult. Dyara: There is one thing, as I participated with various grief ministries and reading that God gives you a sense of numbness that allows you to accomplish what you need. And so one of the things that George and I talked about was developing a program that honored Jonathan. When people walked out of that church, we wanted them to have recognized who Jonathan was. And so the speakers, the urban artistry, yourself, all of the people who participated in that celebration, we thought through how they were representative in John's life and that's why they were there. We really took a minute and talked about what he did and who he was and how those people contributed to his life. Keith: Yeah. Yeah, and then I would be remiss if I didn't talk about, well I didn't know where I would be seated during that ceremony at all. I knew that I wouldn't be one of the pallbearers because my upper body strength leaves a lot to be desired because of Cerebral Palsy but you guys, throughout everything you were going through, you took extreme extra care of me. You actually had me on the stage throughout the whole celebration, seated with his family. Dyara: Because you are family. George: That's right. That's exactly right Keith. Dyara: You are family. One of his brothers. That's what he called you. One of my brothers. Keith: Yes and I cannot thank you enough. George, could you talk about the process of not only writing but delivering the thunderous passionate eulogy you gave your son, which by the way, before when I heard that, I was like, what the heck, John. You got off way too easily. That was supposed to be the type of eulogy you were supposed to give me. So what was that experience like for you? George? George: Keith, thank you for asking that question. One of the things that we came to conclude very early on, even on the day that Jonathan went home to be with the Lord, on that 19th day of November. That morning, Dyara had shared with you them taking him out. But on that morning, I heard him, he had had his coffee. He went back upstairs and I could hear him saying, dad. He said my name, dad in a way that I never heard him call me that way. And so it caused me to be concerned that something was happening, that I needed to get there quickly. So I ran upstairs and he asked me, he said, “dad, pull up my arms. I can't breathe.” And I remember being right there at the door post coming out of his room, and I held up both of his arms. I put my arms to hold up his arms so that he could breathe. And so at that point, Dyara heard the conversation and she said, do I need to call 911? And Jonathan responded, yes. And that's how they got there. But that sound in his voice was something I'd never heard before but it brought a tenderness, father, son, he called me, dad. I need you. And so when we learned later that they took him to the hospital and when we got there, as my wife Dyara indicated, he would already pass away, even though they didn't tell us. But based on what we learned later, he had already passed away by the time we had gotten there. And I remember going to the room and you have all of these emotions, something you never dreamed of, never thought of, but because of our relationship with God, I really do believe that God gave me peace. In the scripture it says, a peace that surpasses all understanding. It's something that's deeper than we can ever explain, but it comes out having a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the moment we began to walk toward the room, when the doctors finally said, you can come to the room your son is dead. It came as a tremendous shock. That was the last thing we expected. But as we began to walk, I could sense the spirit of God speaking to me, that you are going to be able to handle this in a unique way because I'm gonna be with you. And I felt a peace that came over me. I could not explain why he died at 33, but the Spirit of God allowed me to not lose it, to not become angry, to not blame God's, all of those emotions that can easily happen. Why me? Why our son? Those things never came up because I believe that the Spirit of God wanted me to demonstrate that in spite of this great loss, we have a relationship with God and Jonathan had that relationship with God, and we could become his supporter people to share that you can have peace in the midst of tragedy. You can have peace in the midst of a storm. You can have peace even in the loss of a dear loved one. All of those emotions, all of those thoughts came into my spirit. So when we were there at Johnson's home-going service, I'd had an opportunity to reflect on those things. The peace of God was just all over me. Even though I could not explain why it was. But I never became angry with God. I never cursed God. And God reminded me that there are people who have loved ones who pass away. And in that moment of loss and hurt and pain, many times they say things that they regret having said, they curse God. They tell God, why did you do this to my child? Why did you do? And just taking on a very combative, very vocal, disrespecting of God and those kinds of things. And I never did. He gave me peace, even though I didn't understand it, I said, Lord, we knew one thing. Jonathan loved you. He had given his life to Christ. He had repented of his sins. You receive him unto yourself. And we know one thing that even though the word of God said, to be after from the body, is to be present with the Lord. So we had an opportunity to fulfill scripture that we have been teaching others. We had an opportunity to put into practice that which we've been teaching because one of the great challenges of life is that many times we can be great teachers until it becomes applicable to us. Dyara: Yes. George: When we are the object of that challenge, then we many times just throw it all to the wind. But I felt in my spirit that God wanted to use me to be an example that in the midst of tragedy and great loss of a child, the only son we have, we only have two children. We had Jonathan, our firstborn, Talia, our daughter. Every father wants their children to outlive them. Everyone wants to pass the legacy to their child. You don't look forward to ever, ever burying your child. But God gave me peace. So I was able to give the words to the people there with a certain amount of confidence. I knew where Jonathan was, because he'd given his life to Christ. I knew that we were seeing him again, because the word of God say that you will see your loved ones again if you live under Christ. And we believe in that. It's not a theory, it's not something that we think about and wonder whether it's real. We live this daily. And so when I had an opportunity to talk about Jonathan, even though it was a great loss, we had a child who represented goodness. We had a child that represented integrity. We had a child who represented love and concern. Dyara: An amazing spirit. George: Absolutely. And when you look at that audience, it was a very mixed audience. Every race, every creed, every nationality, gender, it was there and so we have a son who touched so many people all around the world because people have connections with other people. And so when we had that opportunity, the spirit of God said, use this as an opportunity to share with them that light. As Dyara already indicated, there were so many text messages, so many Facebook messages and almost inevitably, everyone that we never heard of never saw, they refer to Jonathan as being that light. Dyara: Right. George: And one of the things that I said at his eulogy is that light that you all are saying that Jonathan was to you. I said, that light is Jesus Christ, Jonathan's Lord and savior. That's who that light is, that you all saw Jonathan live that as a child of God and so it was something that I looked forward to sharing because of those 600 or so people who were there, I don't know how many of them knew the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but I believe in all my heart that one day, every knee should bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And for those who've not given their lives and their heart to Christ, they are going to find themselves lost and so I don't want anyone to be lost if I have the opportunity to share life. And so I was excited about sharing light because I believe that Jonathan would want me to have done that, because he shared his light with them believing that they would also come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But those were my thoughts Keith related to how we were able to stand there and share with the audience, with the world, this podcast because we loved our son. He loved us, and we were not without hope. We knew where he was because of the life that he lived and he gave his life to Christ. And he lived that life and he was a great friend, a great son, and I respected him tremendously. So that was what I would say that gave me the ability to speak as I did at our son's home- going. Dyara: May I add one thing? Keith: Yes, please. Dyara: One of our friends at church gave George a scripture and it really carried me through, and it's Isaiah 57, 1 and 2 and it says, good people pass away, for godly often die before their time, but no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow Godly paths will rest in peace when they die. Periodically, I would say, God, what was that evil that you were protecting him from? And I can't tell you today that I've received an answer, but that scripture has carried me, that and the ability to trust God even when I didn't understand. So there's no magic to it. There's no philosophical, great insight. We trusted God. We, that's what we did. Didn't make sense. George: Absolutely. And one other comment I'll make in light of Dyara having shared this particular scripture from Isaiah 57, verse 1 and 2, when you think about that scripture, it says, God is protecting that young person from an evil to come. And as Dyara indicated, we thought about that many times, but one of the things is not definitive, but is something that came up my spirit and has continued to come up and we won't really know until we are in the presence of the Lord one day. So I'm not saying this as that is the answer, but one of the things that occurred to me, and also occurred to Dyara. Jonathan was a very outgoing person. As you well know, Keith, Jonathan loved everybody. Jonathan was in the marketplace, everywhere. We all know that COVID came in and was very devastating after Jonathan went home to leave with the Lord two months later. One of the thoughts that came up to my spirit since we later learned that Jonathan had a heart condition that we were not aware of and asthma. The thought came up, could the evil that God was protecting Jonathan from, could it be this? And I just raised this as a question, not knowing definitively, but raised as a question, could God have taken Jonathan away early because with COVID that came on, with Jonathan being as outgoing as he was and having the underlying health condition, would he have been one person to contract COVID? And we know that during that particular time, many people went in, they were put on respirators. They never came out. That was at the height of so many people dying. There is nothing worse that I can think of than to think of if Jonathan had contracted COVID, was placed on a hospital, which many people were, and because of the situation, you could not visit your loved one being on a respirator and suffering and then dying, never having a chance to see our son during that time. So that came up as a possible evil that God protected Jonathan from. And when I think about it, I would have hated for him to have contracted COVID with his underlying health condition. And we would have to just see him perish in a slow way in this way. And this way, the way that it happened that day in the morning, that very afternoon, he was gone to be with the Lord. So that has given me some comfort that that possibly could have happened to him had he not gone home to be with the Lord. Keith: The celebration was literally an all day celebration, that’s why I remember it so clearly. I left my friend's house at like 8:30 after taking double the amount of my antidepressant because that was the only way I was going to get through that day. And I got back at like 10 pm that night and I was so exhausted to say nothing of what your family went through. You never really got to say a proper goodbye to Johnathan, he was and this was news to me that I learned. He was dead, passed on, before you two even got to the hospital. So if you could have had the chance to say a proper goodbye to him, what would that have sounded like? And if you could speak to him now, what would you say, knowing that you probably can’t fully answer this, I probably couldn't. But that is my question to you. George: That's a very good question, Keith and you know. Dyara: Before he goes, because I may loose it. George: Okay I will let Dyara go first then I will follow her Keith. Dyara: You know, I love you. Because, what I tell parents when I'm speaking about this is it’s cumulative. It's all the school events, the TaeKwonDo tests, the poetry readings, the acting, all of the cumulative memories that I was there. I went. I was present. I showed up. And one of the last things that he invited me to was when he did his first performance with Urban Art History and I have the video, it's on my phone. And I think that he would have wanted from me just that, hey mom, you're coming. Are you gonna show up? And the one thing that gives me comfort is that I showed up. I showed up and he used to wrap. He used to wrap his arms around me and give me a bear hug, and I would clap him on the back and I would say, I love you son. Love you. He said, love you too, mom. We did that often, and if I knew that it was the last minute, that's what I would tell him. I would do just that, that wonderful deep hug and say, love you, son. Because in the end all you have are the good memories and the love. I can say that he loved me. I loved him. As simple and as pure as that. No big speech. Just I love you. I love you. I showed up. George: Thank you. One of the things that I would, I believe, have said had we had the opportunity to be brought back into the emergency room, and the doctors had pretty much concluded based on what was happening with him, that they thought that this was a finality, that this would be it. And if I felt that way, one of the things that I believe I would've said to Jonathan. One, I would've taken his hand as father and son. We would shake hands and I would give him the best fatherly handshake. We say, grip the hand so that someone knows that somebody's on their other hand, no fishy handshake, a strong manly handshake. I would've done that, and I believe I would've spoken to Jonathan. Son, we understand that this may be the end, but one thing that you and I both know, that there is eternal light, that Jesus Christ has made provision for all who came to him and asked him into their lives. And since I know that you know Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, I want you to leave here in perfect peace knowing that mom and dad are gonna be okay and Talia and Granny, because she was still alive at that time. And maybe I would've said, son, look for your grandpa, my dad because he's gonna be there looking for you and maybe other relatives that I would've thought of. But I know that I would've wanted him if I knew that he was going to be gone. I would want to have said that. I don't know what I would've said, but I'm telling you what I would've wanted to say if that opportunity were such and I was aware, and God gave him the ability, that would be what I would have wanted to say to our son. Keith: The aftermath of his passing instilled something that I wrestle with and I can only imagine that your family wrestlers with. Dyara when we were doing one of our pre-interviews, I reminded you that in the first few years since his passing, I would get roses for you and write cards in your son’s voice. And do you remember what I said to you on why I did that? Dyara: Not directly, but what I do remember, I do remember that first Mother's Day when I was so distraught. And I went to Terry Haynes's, the church that she pastored. And you came. Keith: Behind the curtain I might add. Dyara: Behind the curtain and surprised me. And surprised me. You know what. Like Jonathan would, he left me sons. He left me, you, and you send them as a son to a mother, and I receive them that way. He sent me Kim. And I don't know if I've ever said this to you, but I know I've said it to Kim. When Jesus was on the cross, he turned to John and he said, son, your mother. And he turned to his mother and he said, mother, your son. And what a gift. He gave them to each other in his absence. When John did that for me, he did that for me. He left, mother kim. mother Keith, mother Tim, mother Pianke, and you know, I don't see him often, but all you need to do is pick the phone up and make a call and he's over here. And I think that that represented who my son was. That he could leave here and leave me, sons. Keith: Yes, you did tell me that, and Daniel is a very important part of this. Yes yes. Why I did it is that I was always reminded that, had I gone before Jonathan, which let’s be honest, was always my plan to do. That shows you how bad my planning is. He would have done the exact same thing, without question in regards to my mother. And that scripture and that scene that you brought up Dyara was the example that I wanted to bring up because it was very evocative of who John was. It was the multiplication of his spirit left behind. Not only in one son, but in a total of five. And so what do you think the overall legacy of your son is and if you could imagine, what would he want advocates with disabilities to know about his life and his legacy? And what would he want people who have yet to discover and embrace their disabilities to know and take away from the life and amazing legacy he left behind? Dyara: I would say that he wanted excellence. He had an indomitable spirit, integrity, and honesty. He didn't use his disability as an excuse to live to the best of his ability. He was an advocate who's compassionate. He had empathy, he had patience. He had kindness. Those are the hallmarks of someone who cares, who could make a difference in someone else's life. I don't believe that God gives us anything that he's not going to use. I really believe that he picks us through experiences and gives us skills, abilities. And that's what Jonathan would've done for the rest of his life. He would have been an advocate. He would have shared himself, he would have mentored, he would have loved, he would've, that's who he was, and that is his legacy. The patience, the kindness, the empathy, the compassion, the advocacy, the fearless stand on a woman's ability to say no and not be afraid to say no. I really respected that about him. If you go back and you read many of his Facebook pages, some of the arguments that he got into were one of them. He took on popular principled positions and so he was, that's his legacy. Whenever we talk about him, we talk about not only his ability to dance and to be a fourth degree black belt master, but also that human side of him. Without those, those accolades mean nothing if you are not kind and patient and compassionate and empathetic. George: I would say ditto to all of that and would add that Jonathan was a tremendously passionate person. He was a person of tremendous integrity. Jonathan was a person of his word. If he told you he was going to do something, Jonathan would do it. And also, part of Jonathan's legacy for me, is the fact that he was trustworthy. He did not play games. He was the same. He was true to his word. He did not believe in doing things to be only found to be a hypocrite. As a matter of fact, he hated the notion of hypocrisy and when he would see political figures, even religious figures who proclaimed one thing and some of their philosophies and some of the things they did, it really caused him great concerns as a matter of he would become righteously indignant. He would become angry. One of the last discussions that we had before he went on to be with the Lord, we were in the kitchen. He was having coffee, and he was asking me, he would say, dad, I don't understand how these people who claim to know God, religious figures, how they can take this position on this issue. And many of the persons, he felt had racist positions on some issues, and he said dad. I don't understand that. If they say they know Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, how can you have such a conflict in what they say and what they do? And so Jonathan was one of these people that you would call very concrete. He did not see Gray. It was either black or white. He did not see things in between. You weren't going to get Jonathan straddling the fence. He was a purist on so many issues and so many fronts. And that's what made Jonathan special and unique. He was not all over the place. He'd not be one thing today, something else tomorrow. You saw a total consistency in Jonathan, and thus we were able to respect that because it demonstrated that he was a person of great integrity. And I believe that everyone who had the occasion to know Jonathan would say that Jonathan was a straight shooter. Jonathan was not all over the place. He was not laughing in your face telling you this story and another person, something totally different. I don't know whether it's part of this disability that he was so concrete, but if it were, that was a great part of his disability. He was just not in the gray. It was either right or wrong. It was black or was white. And those were things that caused me, and I think my wife and all of us to know that Jonathan did not play games. What he said he believed in and he was true to himself, and that's something that I can always remember. He was true to himself and he was true to God. Keith: Another important memory that I have from the celebration. I don't know how I remembered so much. I was in survival mode and I wasn't in any danger but I was that distraught to say nothing of what your family went through, but I remember writing my own testimonial of John and George, you were kind enough to share it several times on your network, your email and text network. You wanted me to speak and I am glad I did, but I am also glad you knew my abilities would be particularly on that day, severely compromised. And so you just gave me a single sentence and then you had one of my brothers, Brian Hayes, read my long testimonial. That meant the world because had I tried to get through that I would have made it no more past the fourth or fifth word, I was that inebriated with grief. But I have such love for your family, for Thalia, for Michelle, for my brothers who I don’t nearly talk enough to, much less see. Panke, Daniel, Brian, Jim, and Timothy. I saw a few of them last year. They’re the type of brothers that I'm very glad I have, but that I never really wanted. But that’s the gift that Jonathan left behind. It was the multiplying his spirit into five, six of us. Very diverse individuals by the way. Dyara: Well said Keith. Keith: He could not have picked a more diverse group, and I know we could spend countless hours sharing countless memories of your son but I would like to leave it there because his legacy was so well summed up by what you just said, and I hope that of everything said in this episode, his legacy not only of faith in family, but most importantly of love for his friends, for his family, and for his fellow man and woman is what people remember about him, the most. There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish I could talk to him again, but as we've discussed constantly throughout this episode, those of us who have faith in Jesus Christ know that the end of our physical life, it's only a blip in the radar, only a page turn to the greatest never ending chapter and adventure of eternity. So again, I would like to thank Dyara and George Henderson for doing a very exhaustive but also non-exhaustive examination of their son and my beloved brother, Jonathan Edward Henderson. George & Dyara: Thank you very much. We're most welcome and thank you Keith, for the opportunity to share our hearts with your audience, and we trust that many will be blessed. Thank you, Keith. Keith: Thank you. You have been listening to Disability Empowerment Now. I would like to thank my guest, You, our listener and the Disability Empowerment Team that made this episode possible. More information about the podcast can be found at DisabilityEmpowermentNow.com or on social media @disabilityempowermentnow. The podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts or on the official website. Don’t forget to rate, comment, and share the podcast! This episode of Disability Empowerment Now is copyrighted 2023.

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