I knew Robert Buster Keethler as Papa. My grandfather was a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, a WWII veteran, a perfect example of the “everyman” of the Greatest Generation. Unfailingly kind, hauntingly quiet, I’ve wanted to tell his story for a very long time. But as I’ve uncovered pieces of his life, I’ve found there is deep pain that he just tried to stuff and bury.
The alcoholism and dementia of his last years remind us burying doesn’t work.
So the journey of writing his story has pushed me to vulnerability and truth—to exploring in my own life how and why I choose to live differently, openly.
The journey began back in 2005, with a short-lived blog I called “Papa’s Story”. Then it burst back to life when I applied for a sabbatical grant in 2012. I received the Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Endowment which funded trips to Nebraska and Europe in 2013 to discover more. I keep plugging away at writing a book about my journey in Finding Papa, and aiming to finish in fall of 2019, hoping that one day this page will point to where you can purchase your finished copy.