A friend of mine died yesterday. Charlie Workman, who would’ve been 91 next month passed after many years of health trouble. I’ve known him for probably more than twenty years, and I’ve been his home teacher for maybe fifteen of those years. I really got to know him and love him. Charlie used to tell us about his life as a young boy. Born in Manila, Utah, he lost his mother at the age of five, and was shuffled around from family to family who raised him. He lived through the heart of the Great Depression, served in the Merchant Marines in World War 2, and worked a variety of manual labor jobs throughout his life. He was fond of recalling his experiences about working for the railroad, and in fact had a model train set attached to a board in his garage that he could lower with a crank. He got rid of that several years ago. He told us of one time when he was working for a refinery and the part of it that he was working on exploded and he was miraculously preserved from death.
He spent time in his later life working for the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s department. He loved his motorcycle and could be seen riding around the streets of our neighborhood until old age and health kept him from doing that anymore. Those who saw him thought it was Santa Claus riding a motorcycle.
I remember the times when he would drive up in front of my house in his truck, when I was working outside and would stop and chat for several minutes. As his age and time caught up with him, he needed to get something to help him get around when he went to stores, and he was excited to tell me about his scooter and the lift for it that he had added to the bed of his truck. Eventually, he had stop driving that as well.
As he got older, I began trying to help out more with his yard, especially snow shoveling in the winter time. At first, I tried to be sneaky, doing it in the wee hours when they were asleep, so as not to get caught. Eventually, he caught me at it and chided me for doing it. He was a man of pride and didn’t like to think he needed help. I kept it up though and eventually, he came to appreciate it openly.
He loved his family and took great pride in many of his kids and grandkids. He missed those who had died before him. He had a great heart, and though opinionated, and though he could be prejudiced and cantankerous, he was a good man and will be missed. I have lost a great friend this year, but on the other side, his loved ones are waiting. It will be a great reunion.