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Faces of COVID: Family honors father with special masks

Family honors father who died of COVID-19
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Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 19:07:28-05

Thousands of Hoosiers have died since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020 and we know — they're more than just numbers. If you've lost a loved one to COVID-19 and want to share their story reach out to us at FacesOfCovid@wrtv.com.

INDIANAPOLIS — Charles Henderson grew up in Indianapolis. He married his wife, Vicki when they were both 18 years old. They had two daughters, Amy and Pam.

Henderson was a family man and worked hard to give his wife and girls a happy life.

“My dad was the provider of the family so my mom could stay home with me and my younger sister,” said Amy Sloan, Henderson’s oldest daughter.

He even built the family home with his own two hands. Henderson ran his own business and still made time to coach sports teams and get to know his daughter’s friends.

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“He was the father figure for all of our friends, he was our baseball coach, he would take the whole thing out for Dairy Queen after every win,” Sloan said.

In 2006, Henderson had open-heart surgery. After that, he stopped working and in recent years looked after his grandchildren while his daughters went to work.

“He kind of played the stay-at-home grandpa role,” Sloan said.

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This is why the family was so shocked when Henderson fell ill in March 2020.

“This was very early on when we didn’t know symptoms yet,” Sloan said, who feels guilt from what happened to her father.

After a Zoom appointment with his doctor, Henderson was told he needed to go to the hospital. The 64-year-old was having trouble breathing. He was admitted and never came home.

Sloan said the first few days he seemed ok. Henderson had a smartphone and would FaceTime his family from his hospital bed. But, eventually, he was placed on a ventilator and his health went downhill from there.

“And then every couple days just another organ had failed, another organ had failed,” Sloan said.

Just after midnight on April 10 a nurse called and told the family it was time to unplug Henderson’s machines. Sloan didn’t want her father to die alone, so she stayed on the phone as the nurse turned off the machines.

“And then she told me I’m going to unplug the last machine and he will go in about 20 or 30 seconds, and he did,” Sloan said.

Sloan and her family have found several ways to honor her dad over the past several months since he died. They’ve learned how to use his camper and go camping every other weekend as a family in his memory.

They also wear masks that read ‘Charlie Charlie’ a beloved nickname they came up with long ago for Henderson.

“His little nickname was ‘Charlie Charlie’ because he always said silly things and everybody would just say ‘Charlie Charlie.’ He was silly, never really a serious guy, just always telling silly dad jokes,” Sloan said.

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Sloan shared the masks on Facebook. At first, she had five made, for her immediate family.

Then friends started asking for them. So far she’s passed out close to 80, people sending her selfies in the masks, some even wearing them in Henderson’s honor when they get their vaccination.

“It just makes me smile to see the huge impact that he had on everyone’s life,” Sloan said.

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