My Grandpa died last week on Friday. This was my dad's dad. He is the Jack who built the "house that Jack built". Literally, he built the house where my dad grew up and where my Grandma still lives. His middle name was Thomas, my dad's middle name is Thomas, and JT's middle name is Thomas. His dad, my great-grandfather died in his 50s, on the day my dad took his first steps at 10 and a half months old. The date was May 29. My grandpa died on May 30 when my son was 10 and a half months old and very close to walking. And there is so much more to tell about him...
We have been so busy lately. We just got back from a trip to West Virginia over Memorial weekend. Work is hectic for me and John. We are trying to spend as much time as we can with JT in our spare time. We didn't have time for a funeral.
But isn't it funny how such a thing makes you take pause? It makes you reflect on life? In as much as we reflected on Grandpa's life over the past few days, I have been thinking about what my life sums up to. What will the details of my obituary be? What will people say at my funeral?
One of Grandma and Grandpa's neighbors, an older lady, said yesterday, "Jack loved life." It was as evident from a distance as it was up close. He made every moment of every day count. Those words struck a cord with me. The words themselves are so simple and beautiful, yet the act of loving life to the fullest every day can be such a challenge.
I saw someone else love life today. JT has been sick since Saturday. He feels really crappy. And he's been at a funeral doing adult things for two days away from his toys. Tonight he and I went for a walk in the post-rain evening. I stopped the stroller along the path and pointed out a bunny. He sat up straight, spied the bunny, then smilled and laughed a little "huh"... just taking in the moment. He didn't cry after the bunny or scream at it, he just absorbed the moment for what it was.
Today I am taking a mental note to love life.
Jack Thomas Whyte, 81, lifelong resident of Barberton passed away on May 30, 2008.
He was a veteran of the U.S. Army during World War II, 81st Infantry Wildcat Division and retired from PPG with 40 years service. Jack enjoyed wood working, golf and his great friends at Portage Lakes Fitness. Most of all, he loved being with his family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Emily Whyte of Barberton. He leaves to miss him his wife of 58 years, Mildred (Collins); sons, Paul (Peggy), David (Karen); daughters, Sandra (Brady) McDougall and Diane (Michael) Holland; grandchildren, Stacy (John) Brunner, Bill (Theresa) Whyte, Katie and Kyle Whyte; great-grandson, John Thomas Brunner; sister, Loretta Caldwell.
Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 2 at Cox Funeral Home, 222 Norton Ave., Barberton, and the memorial service Tuesday, June 3 at noon. A private burial service will take place at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. Those wishing to offer an expression of sympathy may consider the Eagle Ranch, P.O. Box 7200, Chestnut Mountain, Ga. 30502, www.EagleRanch.org.