Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Philip D. England

I was born on December 2, 1989 to an amazing family.  Everyone in my family dropped everything to be there at my birth.  Several people gave up things in preparation for my birth.  They wanted me to have the best possible life.  I am very blessed.

My grandpa was Philip.  He was my moms step father.  He always said that he was too young to be a grandfather, and told me to call him Philip.  I have always called him Philip.  It is weird to reference to him as grandpa.  Philip gave up smoking when he knew I was coming into this world. 

From as far back as I can remember until I was 15, I spent summers in Montmorenci, South Carolina at Philip's beautiful house.  I remember trips to Aiken State Park when I was about five or six.  I would sit in his lap in his white Bronco.  He let me control the wheel and I would run into trees.  It was so much fun! 

One summer, I planted the idea in his head about how I wanted a tree house.  He built the most beautiful tree house for me in the world.  The tree house has shingles on the roof, three windows, electricity, carpet, a deck, heating, air conditioning and an intercom system to the house.  It has a play set underneath with two swings, a trapeze and rings.  It has a basketball goal and a rope swing. No lie, he built this all on his own.  Just for me.

Philip worked for Aiken County, so he knew everyone who was anyone in Aiken.  He introduced me to hundreds of people.  I remember spending summers in his office.  All of his work passwords were some variation of my name.  He had pictures of me everywhere.  He had a recycled baby jar of food that I had put colored sand in on his desk.  I knew everyone in his office.  We would have lunch at Jaycee's or across the street at Acropolis.  These were my summers growing up.  Me and Philip.  (I wish I had some pictures on my computer of me and him when I was younger.)

Philip always went way over the top for Christmas.  Our Christmas tree was always at least 16 feet tall.  Yes, 16 feet.  One year it was 21 feet tall, we had to cut the top off!  Opening presents on Christmas was an all day affair.  He loved to spoil us, and this is exactly how he wanted it to be. 

For my high school graduation, Philip took my whole family plus four other people to this amazing restaurant in the South Park area of Charlotte.  My graduation presents from him were paying for dinner (holy cow, it was like $400!!!), a pearl necklace and pearl earrings.  This was a night I will never forget.

He has always had heart trouble, but the last few months he became very sick.  It was selfish of me, but I did not want to come and see him sick.  I couldn't remember my Philip being sick.  So, I haven't seen him in a couple of months.

Saturday afternoon, my grandma called and said we needed to come to Aiken and see him.  We loaded up the car on Sunday planing on going to see him in the hospital, saying hey, and going back home to work on Monday.  It didn't quite happen like that.  We got here and he was much worse than my grandma had led on.  It killed me to see him so sick.  He could barely talk and slept a lot.  Thankfully, he knew who we were and remembered memories that we had.  We each spent time with him alone.  I just held his hand for the longest time and cried and cried and cried.  He had a few things to say to me that I will never forget. 

I was in the room when he passed.  It was hard to watch that.  I am very thankful that God allowed me to be with him the day that he passed.  I am very thankful that he is out of pain.  I am very thankful for all of the memories that I will cherish forever.  He was an amazing man.  I can't wait to bring my children to the tree house and show them what their great-grandfather did for me.


  1. Dear Keirstin,

    Your grandfather was my director at my first "grownup" job after college graduation in 1993 and I worked for he and Lisa for a total of 4 years. You were the light of his life. Every time he talked about you, his face lit up and he became so animated. We joked about you bringing out his "marshmallow center" and how excited he got about his surprises for you. Phil was the kind of good man that you don't tend to see around as much anymore. He was a wonderful mentor and will be sorely missed. I regret that I didn't tell him how much he positively impacted my professional life. You were very loved and I hope that your memories remind you how very special you were to him and comfort you during the next few days and months.

    Stephanie (Tabor) Cloninger

  2. Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. I loved him so much. He was one of my best friends.

    (How did you find my blog?)

  3. That's a lovely tribute.
    He loved you well.