I mentioned that when I had the idea to write a book about my grandpa, it even came with an opening paragraph or two. I’ll offer it here for your feedback.
With the eye of my memory, I can travel through time effortlessly. Any time I want, I can walk through the door at 60 South Morrison Street, and he’ll be there; sitting in his green recliner, two college football games playing on two different televisions, and yet a third coming through an earphone connected to his transistor radio. Papa always smiles at me, motioning me to sit in Nana’s recliner next to him, and we’re together…in silence, but together, and I know I am welcome.
My time travel has limits. It only goes back to the early 70’s, and it can go forward only to April 18, 2001, when my mom called to wish me a happy 33rd birthday…and to tell me that Papa was dead.
I wish I could break the limits. I especially wish I could push it back, back, back… I’d like to see my grandfather in the 50’s at the Billy Graham Crusade. I’d like to see him in the 40’s, returning from the victorious campaign in Europe, to see his eyes as they saw my mom for the very first time. I’d like to rewind to the 30’s, because I don’t even know where he was then. I’d like to push back to the 20’s, and see him open the letter offering a football scholarship to Northwestern, to see his smile of pride before he realized he couldn’t accept it. I’d like to see him when his dad left, whenever that was, and since I’m wishing, I wish I could ask him what might have died in him that day, too.
This is the story of my grandpa, Robert Buster Keethler, as I remember it, and as I’ve since discovered it to be.