Pennies From Above

My grandpa passed away October 3rd. It was a really hard time for everyone. This amazing, strong man was now broken and weak. It was hard to believe that someone so study, so solid, so always there, wasn’t here anymore.

I’ve wanted to share my letter, my reading that I wrote about my grandpa with you all for a while but wasn’t sure when it would be a good time to do that. How does someone know when it’s a good time for anything when someone you love passes away?

First, I am going to share that reading with you all now. One, because I am proud of what I wrote, and it was an honor to be able to learn more about my grandpa and my grandma for that matter, while representing my dad and aunt, who I have so much respect for.

Here it goes:

My grandad

A well-built life

Psalms 1:3

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, which brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaves also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.

I have been told many different stories about our patriarchs’ life growing up. Some parts are sad, some are hard to believe and others, I do not quite understand. But the conclusion, I came to at the end of all of it was a simple one. A well-built life.

My sister and I recently were able to visit Wray and had the pleasure of traveling down the same road that Grandpa once walked down to go to school. We were able to see the field that he once played football in.

Vernon is a dusty little town, quiet and lonely now. But I can envision what it once was to him. What it must have felt like. Pure freedom running through those pastures that doubled as a football field! It gives me a sense of joy knowing that he might be doing that right now!

William James Magruder started out on his own a young boy. It was just him and his dog. To be honest his background is a little confusing to me. He had many siblings’ all half and I believe they have passed away now. I know he had a fractured foundation to build from just starting out.

He learned very quickly how to survive and how to care for himself early on. He took on many jobs and learned different trades, until he knew every detail of his craft. He was a very distinguished and great builder. Some would say a carpenter of sorts.

If you just look around this town alone, you will see grandpa’s craftsmanship everywhere. He laid brick, dug ditches, and built from the ground up many of the businesses and homes that make up this town. His spirit will be alive and well in this town for generations to come. I am proud of that.

In his own personal life, he was building as well, he took his cracked foundation, and he was repairing it, he took a beautiful bride that he knew would be a solid partner. One that he loved and that was not chosen for him but that he chose.

Together they decided to change the circumstances of their past and do better. They would make a stronger more solid foundation; they would work hard with dedication and conviction. And even though they had tough times, they never let up. Their diligent and sacrifice to create a better family, a stronger foundation shows to this very day.

They raised three children in a tiny camper, while they took every job, they could to make ends meet. That tiny camper was home, it was a tiny Christmas tree for the holidays, it was Granny Magruder’s sugar cookies and pulled taffy, it was family dinners with homemade bread, schoolwork, and it was a living room that double as a bedroom. Although it was small it was good to be together. As Grandma told me in June, she loved that Camper. It was better than either Grandma or Grandpa had, had themselves growing up because they were building something to hold on to and be proud of. A family they loved.

They bought some land and started digging. Overtime and between multiple jobs, they finally were able to move into a tiny 1918 house, only 16 x 32. Grandpa took his talents by building on to that tiny house and digging out a basement. Grandpa made it a house and Grandma made it a home. Together they created a homestead to raise their family. Moving out of the tiny camper! This was such a huge accomplishment.

The family of five grew and before you knew it there were horses, cows, pigs, goats, chickens, and a few barns! There was obedience, and a whole lot of perseverance and dedication. Life was busy and hard! There were many tireless days and nights. If I have learned anything from the stories, I have heard over the last few visits it is about the work. Grandpa and Grandma were workers and they raised workers.

There were so many early mornings before the sun would raise, busy days in the heat, or freezing cold in feet of snow, stretching long into the evenings to do chores. There was football games or wrestling matches, and all the other school functions. The work never stopped! There was always something do, and the Grandparents did their part day in and day out. There were no sick days off. This was a way of life. Demanding work, get in the dirt, being resourceful, everyone chips in to take care of the family.

I would like to think with all the years of putting in the work, he is relaxing now. Sitting back at a rivers edge to do some fishing or enjoying one of his favorite Western novels. Perhaps, he is cruising the Black Hills of South Dakota on his motorcycle. Grandpa told me only a few stories about his life and most all of them revolved around building, working, or protecting. Very few stories did I hear about a vacation, fishing trip, or a bike ride, but I know he loved to travel, camp and fish, so maybe he will get the chance to do those things now.

Maybe he is reliving his favorite moments, those sweet times when he was free to soak up the things that made him most happy. Like, hopping on his Goldwing motorcycle with grandma on the back, his best friends by his side, Frank and Shirley Smith, touring the countryside. Tennessee to Arkansas, The Ozarks to Wyoming, through Yellowstone, on to The Rocky Mountains and Sturgis every summer.

Could his Heaven be on a football field, young and fast? Maybe, it is voyaging on the back of his motorcycle to see the world? Might Grandpa’s peace be the serenity of fishing at the lake, or a quiet place to read that Western paperback? Is it that tiny camper with his young family and all his animals? Could it be all of it?

Whatever it is, I know he is a peace now. Welcomed into paradise.

Grandpa was a builder. He built structures and his craftsmanship will be on display forever. But he built so much more than that. He built a marriage. He crafted three amazing children, who became wonderful people themselves. He sculpted a family and in that he built with such detail and mastery life lessons, humor, work ethic, character, and dedication. Things that he did without even knowing he was doing. He detailed his personalized handiwork in each one of us, that I know I will carry with me forever.

He was a husband, a father, grandfather, great-grandfather, a friend, a goat wrangler… and I am sure we can all add somethings he still is to us and will always be.

My dad never failed to remind me as I grew up how much easier I had it and there is no doubt, I did. But something we shared is having each other’s back.

My dad likes to tell me a story about how he was riding his motorcycle incredibly fast through town and sped pass a State Patrolmen, playing you can’t catch me. He may have been about sixteen at the time. The Officer was chasing him through town, but my dad continued to speed and not stop for him. Looking for safety, my dad sped toward home, flew through the yard, and hide his motorcycle in the barn… Grandpa came out to see what the commotion was all about but when he saw the Patrolman with lights on pull in the drive, he knew what had happened. But Grandpa stood in front of in his son, between him and the Officer. Grandpa had his back and in the “most polite way ever” as you can imagine …. told that Officer to get his ass off his property! It wasn’t until after that Patrolman left that grandpa took care of business with my dad. Which I’m sure wasn’t too pleasant!

I feel the same way, that although I would get in trouble at times, I knew that my dad would have my back, even when I was in the wrong. My dad learned that somewhere. To be the protector, to stand in the gap.

Grandpa not only was building an amazing family of his own, that I know he was so proud of, but he was teaching important lessons and correcting the fragile foundation of his own childhood, so that our that our parents would go out and raise families of their own and the building continues through us to this very day.

Many times, when you are the builder, you do not always get to enjoy your masterpiece or see the fruits of your labor. It is the generations after you that get to benefit from all you have created for them. We have truly benefited from his choices and his work, and we thank you.

He did so good.

What an amazing legacy. A wife that loves you to no end, since you both were just kids yourself, 68 years of married, two sons and a daughter, multiple grandchildren, and great grandchildren, all that love and adore you. I continue to carry your name and the lessons that you have taught…. brick by brick and stone by stone. We will tell your story from this day on, and you will not be forgotten. You have carved something into each one of us and I promise nothing has been lost on me.

How grateful and truly blessed we are to have been a part of all you have built.

Gift from above…

Photo by Soubhagya Maharana on

It truly was a healing process writing this piece. Emotionally, I had my moments of tears and heartbreak but there was so much joy too. He was such an awesome, amazing man. Sure, he had his faults, who doesn’t. He encompassed everything this world is lacking. Work ethic, integrity and such heart, being a father that raises his family and leads them. He was so much to so many, but I think many people didn’t realize that till he was gone.

Since my grandpa passed, I thought I might have dreams about him, like I did about my cousin when she passed away, but I never did. I didn’t have a sense of him close around me at all. It made me uneasy. But one week before we left to go back to Colorado for his funeral, I started to find pennies all over my house. I would find them in my truck, on my driveway and on my walks in the mornings. These pennies wouldn’t have been that big of a deal or even noticeable, but they were everywhere! I could not… NOT see them!

Was I being given some kind of sign? A sign from heaven… a sign from my grandpa? Possibly…

I don’t know but I am going to start making a point to pay more attention of what’s happening in my life when I find these pennies! I will say that the last month has been stressful but also beautiful for me. So many awesome blessings in my life, along with heartbreak, pain, overwhelming busyness and a few carless insults. But I have shouldered it all well, because God prepared me for all of this. He has grown me into a strong woman … I know my priorities.

I’m thankful for the journey and to be here in this place now. God is so wise, so good always. He keeps me humble and grateful on this wonderful and at times uneasy path, but I follow so faithfully.

May you God bless and keep you all!


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