Who was Philip Charlwood?

Philip W. Charlwood, 95, of St. Louis, MO died on Thursday, September 4, 2003.  He was born October 12, 1907 in Marissa, Illinois.  The son of Alfred Charlwood and Mary Poehner Charlwood, he married Caroline Virginia Mueller on January 6, 1938.

He was preceded in death by his wife Caroline on January 10, 1987, his parents Alfred and Mary, and his six brothers and sisters: Theodore, Lilly, Fred, Alma, Dorothy and Robert.  He is survived by his daughter, Carol Block, son-in-law Donald  Block and two grandsons, Jeff and Mike Block.  He was loved and will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

Philip was a member of Bridgeton Lodge #80 AF&AM, as well as several other civic and fraternal organizations.  An avid gardener, he was a charter member of the Ritenour Men’s Garden Club of Missouri, where he won Master Gardner awards and many ribbons for his flowers and vegetables throughout the years.  He retired in 1972 after 40 years at Wagner Electric as a Journeyman Millwright.

This was his obituary; Philip Charlwood was my grandfather.  Here’s what I wrote about him the day after his death three years ago…

For most of his life, my grandfather’s been bitter and somewhat angry at the church (which has represented God to him), because he felt he was robbed of the life he deserved.  For several years now, my family has been praying for him and sharing the gospel, hoping that as he aged, the Lord would soften his heart and wait to take him until he gave up his bitterness and found peace in Christ.

As many of you know, grandpa was hospitalized 3 weeks ago (while I was away on business in Dallas) after a stroke left parts of his face and throat paralyzed.  Both his speech and his ability to swallow were impaired, forcing the doctors to put a feeding tube in his stomach, because he was unable to swallow food without getting it into his lungs.

On Monday, August 18th, I talked with my mom (grandpa is her dad) about the urgency in speaking with grandpa about his spiritual life.  I feared we were running out of time, knowing that I couldn’t get to them until Sunday (6 days later).  Mom wanted to talk with him, but it’s so hard for her, so I prayed for her on the phone and left her to that task. That night at 3AM, for seemingly no reason, grandpa was moved from his
single room to a room with a roommate.  When mom came in the following morning and prayed for grandpa, his roommate heard, came over to the bed, and asked a number of direct questions about grandpa’s spiritual state.  After clearly outlining the gospel and the cost of discipleship, grandpa’s roommate asked if he wanted to pray with him to receive Christ.  He did. 

After decades of stubborn independence and countless prayers from those who loved him, I can testify anew that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)  And by that afternoon, the roommate God had sent to my grandpa had checked out of the hospital.  He wasn’t even grandpa’s roommate for 12 hours.  We don’t even know his name.  For all we know, he was an angel.

So, at 11:20AM, August 19, my 95 year old grandfather “came to repentance”.  God kept His promise.  I don’t know how many times I’ve prayed that the Lord would not let him die without knowing him.  God is
faithful.

After visiting him here in St. Louis last Monday (when I got back from Dallas), I had called the hospital’s Pastoral Care department, and asked if they would meet with him regularly to pray with him and read to him
from the Scriptures.  I knew he probably hadn’t heard more than the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s prayer for longer than I’ve been alive.

So, for the last two weeks, a wonderful Chaplain named Jenny has been meeting with him almost every day to pray with him and open God’s word to him.  She reported to me yesterday that he’s even been asking for her
to do so.

Faith and I were on vacation (with the Nenn’s) over Labor Day weekend. We found out Wednesday (9/3) that grandpa had taken a turn for the worse, and that he was in bad shape.  Mom spent all of Wednesday night by his side, just recalling memories of him in her own mind, praying and holding his hand.  Yesterday morning (Thursday), Faith and I came down to St. Louis to be with him again.  He seemed somewhat better, and had a couple wonderful visits — one yesterday afternoon with my parents, and another with just Faith and I last night.  What I wanted to tell him most was that he was loved. We did.

Last night, at 11PM, the call came.  Grandpa had died.  Of course, we were and continue to be sad.  Mom and dad have been gone all day making arrangements.  We had just gotten the family Bible out for Faith to sign as the newest addition to the family, and the same day mom wrote a second date by grandpa’s name.

But I’m writing you all this not just to tell you that he’s no longer with us, but to focus on God’s faithfulness in that he waited so patiently until He could make sure that grandpa’s leaving us meant to be immediately with Him.  So, in the midst of sadness, it means everything that grandpa is finally resting with God.  No more bitterness.  All the years he thought he wasn’t living the life he wanted have ended, as he now lives the life for which he was created.  And finally, he has begun eternally to do what he was so reluctant to do all of his earthly life — to walk with Jesus.  And my heart aches with joy, knowing that I will be with him again.  I have to wonder if he’ll tell all the same jokes in heaven that he told here.  🙂

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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
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4 Responses to Who was Philip Charlwood?

  1. charles Hice says:

    I found this writing extremely interesting.

    Perhaps, I didn’t read it carefully, but I wonder “how long” your grandfatherhad been bitter.

    Did he become bitter after his wife died?

    Was he always in poor health?

    I am 76, extremely poor (I was told by a woman once, “You will be very rich or very poor.

    I have used my time and money to help others. I have volunteered since I was in my thirties and have been extremely happy

    But, I am not saying that I was the best father, grandfather or
    husband!

    You write very well!

    Charlie Hice, Ohio
    charmanten10@yahoo.com
    Wildflowers-words-things@wordpress.com
    or mankey1234@wordpress.com

    I am trying to learn blogging, but it is not easy for me.

    Like

  2. charles Hice says:

    Oh, yes!
    I just read comments on your blog AGAIN!

    I have always been critical of churches and their members,

    because I do not think that they have reached out to

    people in need, especially teenagers. I should not generalize,

    why aren’t they helping out more on food banks, homeless,

    mentors on “job finding”. These are only a few of my complaints.

    I believe that violence in our country can be reduced, if

    people would “reach out”. Can’t one be spiritual and

    help others?

    Charles Hice

    Like

  3. jeffblock says:

    Thank you for your comments and compliments.

    The bitterness in my grandfather’s life came not from his wife’s death, but from his parents’. When he was 16, his father died and his mother was admitted to a TB sanitarium. He dropped out of high school to raise his 5 younger siblings (his older brother, 18, made a break for it). As a result, even though he was a very intelligent man, he remained uneducated, and therefore poor. He simply believed the life (or God) had cheated him of the life he, in his own mind, deserved.

    Grandpa would have said that he was in poor health, but it wasn’t true. Despite much self-destructive behavior (smoking, drinking, etc), his health was far better than most his age. And his mind remained extremely keen until the last, even when his body began to shut down. His brokenness was in his heart, not in his body. It seemed he just couldn’t choose to be happy.

    To address your questions about the church… You are right in that Christians do not behave like Christians as much as I’d like. Myself included. Self-sacrifice is hard in the climate (in our nation) of luxury and wealth we experience. Even when we feel poor, the truth is that very few people in our society do not have what they need and more.

    Also keep in mind that almost every hospital, food pantry, homeless shelter, orphanage, etc was started by the church. For all its faults, the local church is still the hope of the world. Not the organization, but the people who comprise it. That said, I echo your call for Christians to stand up and be counted. Our nation faces many dangers, including the crime and violence you mention. Only the church can turn that tide around.

    Like

  4. Joe Lehman says:

    Thank you for the story of how God granted your petition regarding your grandfather. He was born in my hometown of Marissa, Illinois. My own grandpa was born there in 1904 and lived there his entire life. If your grandpa lived in Marissa long, our grandpas undoubtedly knew each other (Marissa was, and is, a very small town).

    Like

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