I’ve got to say something and put it down in writing. My grandfather, Page Whitcher, died during the night last Friday night. He was a Christian and I will see him again one day when we are together in heaven. He died at the age of eighty-eight, being, as the Bible puts it, old and full of days. Death is the way of all life, and Grandpa lived a good, full life.
There is no way I could sum up his life for you to read. There is not much about him that I know except the memories that I have of which he was a part. I didn’t see him very much when I was growing up because of the distance between us, maybe every two or three years.
Many of my memories of Grandpa involve him building something. One summer — I must have been around ten years old — my dad helped him with some work he had to do building his a-frame cabin in the mountains north of Phoenix. I can see an image in my mind of Grandpa and Dad raising up the giant upside-down v that was to be one of the rafters for the roof. It was a beautiful cabin. I would love to someday go to the owner and buy the place back into the family.
Another summer, when I was fifteen, I spent some time with him helping out with another building project he had building an apartment for him and Grandma to live in behind the insurance business that Grandma was involved with. I got to drive him around in his brand new Chevy pickup truck that had a fuel injected 350 engine. I loved driving that truck. I remember he was surprised that I was using my right foot for both the gas and the break pedals (I guess he thought I was used to driving a standard transmission, but I never had). I did some painting for him and generally was a second pair of hands when he needed it. We really enjoyed the time together.
I remember him reading Louis Lamour and telling me how he didn’t have to buy new books anymore. He was getting old enough that he couldn’t remember a book by the time he got back to it in his collection so it was just as good as reading a new one. He sat in the camper he and Grandma were living in (while the apartment got built) eating his daily breakfast of toast and coffee while reading Louis Lamour.
The only time I remember seeing him after that (though there were probably other times I just can’t remember) are at weddings. He came to mine, and then I saw him again at my sister’s and then again at my brother’s. I haven’t seen him since then (that was ten years ago).
It’s hard to imagine all the ways that Grandpa had a profound impact on me, and I probably don’t even realize it. He was a Christian, which lead to my father becoming one, which lead to me becoming one. Now I try to live every day building a personal relationship with the God who created the universe, and Grandpa played a part in that. He also gave my father a love of the mechanical, which rubbed off on me. I am not nearly as adept at it, but I am sure it had something to do with my love of computers and programming (it’s all about figuring out how things work) which is now my source of income as I work from home and take care of my kids.
Of course, I am sorry to see him go, but as Paul said, I don’t sorrow as those with no hope. Life goes by so quickly; it won’t be too long before I see him again.
See you later, Grandpa.
UPDATE—I found this postcard that grandpa gave to me back in 1993. It seems like I remember meeting him at an airshow, but I can remember where. I want to say Wisconsin, but I can remember why we would have been there.