My grandpa died today. Or I should say that he went Home.
He was born in February of 1920 to an Old Order Mennonite family in northern Indiana. He died nearly 89 years later only miles from his birthplace.
He got spanked in school once when he was 7 because he saw other kids scratching their names in the wooden desks, thought this was the acceptable practice, and made his own marks. His teacher was not amused.
He was 13 years old in the depths of the Great Depression. He had to spend the summer working for an elderly couple in exchange for room and board and some clothes. He would get so lonely that he would fake feeling sick in order to go home and spend time with his family.
When he was 14 years old, he worked for another farmer for 75 cents a week herding cows along the side of the road. He worked hard the rest of his life until his body would not let him anymore.
His first car was a 1929 Ford Model A.
Most of his life he weighed a sinewy 150 pounds except for a brief stint in the 40’s when he drove a dry cleaning route and had a malted milkshake in a restaurant every day for lunch. His weight ballooned to a whopping 175 pounds while he had that job.
He married Martha in July of 1943 and promptly received orders from Selective Service to report to Civilian Public Service Camp #67 in Downey, Idaho. He was a conscientious objector to World War II.
During the dark days of the war, he memorized this poem and could still quote it much later in life:
Amidst the hate and madness of the earth,
Within the boundless range of tortured minds,
Among the groping hands that strive to find
A universe of glory and of worth.
The pessimism which has taken birth
Destroys the hopes and courage of mankind
The biases and prejudices blind
The hearts and souls, with blood and want and dearth.
But from the depths of darkness and despair,
However weak and futile life may be,
However hard and rough the road we’ve trod
There is a glow of which we’re unaware
Unless we let our fervored spirits see
The light that is eternity and God.
–Margaret E. Trueblood
He raised four children who all turned pretty well. And then there were a whole passel of grandchildren. He prayed for his children and grandchildren every day. And he told us that.
He loved family history–both reading history and finding distant relatives and interviewing them to research their branch of the family.
He was a sucker for a good cause. He gave little bits of money to a whole lot of charities. He had a generous heart.
His heart, though generous, was no longer healthy. He could no longer putter around his shop or help out on the farm. He was ready to go Home.
So go on Home, Grandpa. You’ll be in good company.