Finding Papa

1971 porch steps

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.

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One thought on “Finding Papa

  1. Hi Gregg, This is Karen Folwell from Boise Friends. Sure miss you as our pastor. Ron and I both have relatives that dropped out of sight from the family tree. I have an uncle who is researching that side of my family and Ron had a relative that found the death notice of his missing relative. So many stories, so many questions we didn’t ask partly because that was considered rude to question relatives about private things and partly because as a young person I didn’t think to ask. I hope yours is a great story we can share. Love to Elaine and the girls

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