Papa Joe

November 7th, 2010

My father-in-law passed away this week.

We are out in western Kansas for the funeral.

I have been looking through my photos selecting a few for the slide show that will play at the funeral dinner.

Most of my photos show him building something for us.

He helped us lay the wooden floors in two of the houses we have lived in.

He built the window sills in the barn and helped us to side it.

He made the weather vane that sits atop our barn.

And crowned it with one of his custom made Kansas Jayhawks.


He taught me just about everything I know about gardening.

And he always had a thick book with him.

I kind of want to know what the last book was that he was reading, but it seems kind of weird to ask right now.

It is large, sore and tender the hole he leaves behind.

The wife he loved for fifty nine years.

The nine kids he fathered.

The nineteen rowdy grandkids.

And one tiny great grandchild.

We all miss you Papa Joe.


  • My deepest condolesences on your family’s loss. What a beautiful tribute you’ve given your father-in-law. Thank you for sharing.

  • Bridget:

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. One of my closest friends lost her uncle this week and one of my friends died this well too. What a strange week this has been. It sounds like you were able to make a lot of memories with him.

  • Diane:

    He leaves behind, fond memories.
    What a blessing to all who knew him.

  • LucyJoy:

    Oh…what a lovely eulogy. It seems as though you have many wonderful memories of Papa Joe. He’ll live on through those. Hugs & love, Rechelle, to you & your family.

  • Debbie:

    I am so sorry for your loss, but what beautiful memories he leaves behind. Big hug for your family and you.

  • Humbert:

    hello ! stumbling on your site, through your other comments about christianity.
    I feel sorry for your loss of a great man

  • Sorry to hear about your father-in-law. He sounds like he was a great guy. You have many wonderful memories to sustain you.

  • Sounds like Papa Joe was a great guy. My sympathies to you and your family.

  • bPer:

    My condolences to you and your family. I now see where the CD got his industriousness and creativity, and it seems some of that rubbed off on the boys too. I imagine that brought him great joy.


  • Carry:

    Atheist snorgles. Loss sucks. <3 (and I would be as curious as you are about what he was last reading)

  • So sorry for your loss, Rechelle and please pass on my condolences to your husband for the loss of his father. I lost my dad two and a half years ago and I know how sharp the pain can be.

  • What a beautiful post for him sweetheart. I am so sorry for your loss and also so glad you had such a lovely being in your life. Lots of love and hugs during your grieving <3


  • Kay in KCMO:

    What a lovely tribute and I’m so sorry for your family’s loss.

  • Cherie:

    My condolences to you and your family.

  • Samantha:

    So very sorry for you loss…….your memories will be there when you need them.

  • Sarah:

    I am so sorry about your sad news. Papa Joe sounds like a great guy that left a wonderful legacy. My sympathy to the family.

  • Rachel:

    Please accept my deepest sympathies. My time, memories, family and friends bring you some small measure of comfort.

  • I’m so very sorry for all of you; I always enjoyed reading about your father-in-law. :(

  • I’m so very sorry for your family’s loss. Papa Joe sounds like he was a wonderful man. Peace to you and yours, my friend.

  • Kathy from NJ:

    Dear Rechelle,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I always enjoyed your stories and pictures when Papa Joe and his lovely bread-baking wife were visiting.

  • jamoody:

    So very sorry to hear of your loss.

  • I’m so sorry Rechelle. I loved your Papa Joe garden stories and photos. I’d suggest you ask what book he was reading. if books were a huge part of his life I highly doubt any one would be offended. It’s another door opening to celebrating his life.

    My condolences…

  • I’m sorry. Please accept and pass on my condolences to the rest of the family.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    Oh No! What a loss! I’m so sorry. I’ve enjoyed the stories about Papa Joe. You’ve done such a great job capturing him in action in your photos. I just came from a visit with my father-in-law, who happens to be my Can-Do Guy. They are a special breed.

  • judy:

    Truly sorry to hear of your loss of a much loved family member.

  • km:

    I lost my own father-in-law over the Summer. He lived far away but he was a big part of our lives. I have found it so strange when we realize that he is gone. Buying a present for one, not two, dialing the number to share something and realizing he is not there anymore…I am still not quite over the shock of it.
    I am a fan of poetry and this by Wordsworth bought a tear to my eye one day in a Barnes and Noble. It describes well the days your family has in front of them in the months ahead.

    SURPRISED by joy–impatient as the Wind
    I turned to share the transport–Oh! with whom
    But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
    That spot which no vicissitude can find?
    Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind–
    But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
    Even for the least division of an hour,
    Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
    To my most grievous loss?–That thought’s return
    Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
    Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
    Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
    That neither present time, nor years unborn
    Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

    • Bridget:

      km- I am sorry to read about your loss as well. My friend died in her sleep over the weekend and I am not sure what to feel or what to say to her family b/c saying sorry for your loss seems insignificant. But I am deeply sad and sorry that she had to died. Which is how I feel whenever I hear of anyone losing a love one. I guess what matters the most is listening and offering support in the weeks, months and years that follow.

      I can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose a parent- I wish that I wasn’t going to have to deal with that. I guess that it is important to make everyday count and to stay connected with those people that you love and care about.

      • km:

        It is nice to talk about the good memories. You cannot go wrong. Like you, they are in shock and it becomes a blur, but we all love the good memories. We just don’t realize how lucky we are to have them.

        • Bridget:

          You are so right. Its all about holding on to the memories of that person because I think that by remembering them that it helps to get through missing them. No matter what death is going to leave behind a place of hurt and sadness. Over time it does get better, but it never really leaves you. It does help to think of all the good times with that person because it allows me to smile and laugh rather than cry.

  • Martha in Kansas:

    I’m so sorry! I saw this in the paper, but thought it was someone else when the CD was not mentioned. Did you ever tell him that your blog readers were his fans? He had a much larger influence than he probably realized. How many of us are planting our tomatoes with antacids, to name just one small thing. I’ll be thinking of you all.

    • Bridget:

      Me too- Papa Joe completely changed the way that I gardened. I not only used antacids when I planted my tomatoes, but I also used the bucket trick that Rechelle talked about. Also it was her post about him that got me to finally use raised beds in my garden and that totally increased how much garden yielded, so I was able to put up enough vegetables to last me through the winter which is going to be a lifesaver since we have gone to only one income in my house. Being able to eat food from my garden has totally decreased my grocery bill.

      It is strange how someone I have never met had an influence in my life- both Rechelle and Papa Joe. Thank you. My love goes out to your family.

  • Deb C.:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Your last picture reminds me of this quote:
    “Children are a message that we send to a time we will never see”

    Sounds like his was a life well lived. Take care.

  • linda:

    I am so sorry to hear this. I’ll be thinking of you all. Linda

  • Charlene:

    My heart goes out to all of you and all of Papa Joe’s family. How wonderful that you have all those reminders of the love he felt for all of you. My precious Daddy passed away unexpectedly Sept. 12. Please give the CD a hug for me. Of course he doesn’t know me but I have a really good idea of how he must be feeling now.

  • Kristin:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Papa Joe reminds me so much of my Dad who passed 9 months ago. Always building or gardening. I was always so glad I had a Dad that could teach me everything. Papa Joe, like my Dad were jewels of the family. Their memory will shine bright forever. I look forward to hearing what he was reading……Cat

  • farmgirl:

    so sorry….there will be so many things you forgot to ask….sigh.

  • Mo:

    My heart goes out to you and your family, may you find strength and comfort in each other at this difficult time.

  • So sorry to hear this Rechelle. Your tender spot will never be filled, but patched up with the very best of memories that will make dealing with the loss a tiny more bearable. Rob and I will be thinking about you all.

  • Christine from Canada:


  • Rhonda H.:

    Sending comforting thoughts your way. It’s a terrible thing when you lose a parent.


  • Spinny:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    A life of words and working with hands, of taking in ideas and releasing original, tangible artifacts. There is nothing more beautiful.

  • My deepest condolences. I loved all your posts about your father-in-law.

  • p.j.:

    Rechelle -
    My deepest condolences to you, CD, your children and CD’s Mom. I am so glad you have many wonderful pictures of Papa Joe doing what he loved to do with your familly. I always enjoyed your gardening articles with Papa Joe’s advice. Next year I will try the antacid trick. My your fond memories bring you all much comfort in the days ahead. Take care and be kind to each other, P.J. (p.s. I passed on my copy of 18 Charing Cross Rd. to my aunt, who lost her gardening soulmate and husband of many years in July. She enjoyed it very much.)

  • Sara:

    So very very sorry.

  • Mary:

    Thoughts of comfort and care to you all. What a beautiful and moving tribute you shared with everyone.

  • Danielle:

    What a lovely tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

  • I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Rechelle. Hang onto your loved ones, and don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. ::hugs::

  • Nancy:

    What a lovely tribute. I’ll bet you’ll see a lot of Papa Joe in your sons as they grow, and in your husband as he ages. He isn’t lost to you. Thankfully, he must have felt the love of so many – and it’s evidence of a life well-lived. My condolences to you and your family, I hope that each day makes it a bit easier to smile through your tears. How lucky you were to have your Papa Joe.

  • Shay:

    Rechelle – Papa Joe sounds like a man who knew how to live well, and how to share that gift with others. I am very sorry for your family’s loss.

  • Heidi:

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. This post alone is a wonderful tribute to your father-in-law.

  • eclecticdeb:

    I am very sorry to hear about your family’s loss.

  • Shelley:


    I’m very sad to hear about your family’s loss. The way you write about it shows he really put his love into actions – I wish I had a Papa Joe :)

    I’m thinking of y’all during this time.


  • Jenny:

    This is a beautiful tribute. I’m very sorry for your loss.

  • I am so sorry for the loss of a dear man to your family. It sounds as though he knew he was loved and cherished by all of you.

  • Patricia:

    My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your entire family.

    We are never ready to lose a parent, it doesn’t matter how old we are.

    It sounds like Papa Joe was deeply loved and will never be forgotten….

  • Well thanks a lot. I’m downright weeping. What an amazing guy! Grandpas are so cool.