June 27, 2011

When Traveling Turns to Tragedy

“Then he [Jesus] used this illustration. He said, “A rich man had land that produced good crops. He thought, ‘What should I do? I don't have enough room to store my crops.' He said, ‘I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones so that I can store all my grain and goods in them. Then I'll say to myself, “You've stored up a lot of good things for years to come. Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”' “But God said to him, ‘You fool! I will demand your life from you tonight! Now who will get what you've accumulated?'” Luke 12:16-20 (GW)

Traveling for us is usually an adventure and this time should have been no different. Bob left at the beginning of June for Montana. I followed five days later. The Gobbs family “boys” were gathering to prepare for an estate auction. When their father passed away last year, he left a large multitude of personal belongings behind. And when I say a “large” amount, I am not kidding.

The family had already divided-up what was heirloom and sentimental. However, his dad had so much stuff, some of what the family wanted still wound up on the auction block. Therefore several family members actively participated in this auction adventure. Two warehouse rooms and at least five tractor/trailer beds were filled to capacity. The fun began at 10:00am one Saturday and by 4:30pm it was over. Things that were once of great value to one man were gone. Now they were just someone else’s stuff.

The next day everyone headed to their respective homes. Bob and I hitched a ride with Bob’s middle brother back to their side of the state. We were flying out the next day. His youngest brother headed back to North Dakota, following his wife, Louise, who was driving her own pick-up with trailer attached. The trailer contained prized auction wins.

Louise was a remarkable person. Partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair (car accident 12 yrs ago), she worked, sewed for pageant queens and beauty contestants. She was a wife, mother and grandmother. Nothing seemed to slow her down but even remarkable women get tired.

I cannot imagine the horror Loren felt as he watched Louise’s truck drift from one lane to another, into the median and then jerk back across the road. The truck rolled several times before coming to a rest. A frantic husband ran to check on his wife, who was not in the cab of the truck when he arrived. After seconds that must have seemed like hours, he spotted her unconscious body on the ground.

She never regained consciousness before she died several hours later.

The next day, several close family members went back out to the crash site to retrieve personal items. The truck was banged up but not demolished. While a few chairs and antique trunks from the trailer survived the ordeal, other pieces were reduced to rubble.

I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about a myriad of things. My mind pondered quite a bit on stuff. Stuff - we all have it. We all want it. Sometimes we fight over it. Sometimes we get jealous over it. Sometimes we hoard it for any number of reasons. We think our family will want our stuff after we are gone but in the case of Bob’s dad, most of it went to strangers.

Okay, some stuff went to the family. Some of his stuff made it back to our homes and in the case of Louise, some of it didn’t.

Bottom line, it’s just stuff. Most of the stuff is just going to collect dust or become dust. In the last several months, I heard of many instances that during a family loss, some people fight over stuff. Apparently, there is always someone who wants more stuff than someone else. Yet in the end, it is all just stuff. As for me, I’d rather have one more chance to tell Louise and Papa Gobbs that I loved them.

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, souls are worth more than stuff. People are more important than pretty trinkets. Loving one another surpasses lording stuff over one another.

I just thought I’d give you some stuff to think about and thank you for all your prayers!

Love, Barbara


  1. Barbara, I am so sorry to hear about your sister in law. I am praying for comfort for the family and that God will you what looks like a tragedy to us into His blessing.
    Ly, Kaylene Hooper

  2. Oh my Barbara, I am so sorry for your familys loss. May the God of ALL comfort, give you all the peace you need, May He flood your mind with many memories of Louise that would bring smiles to your faces. Will be praying for you guys.
    Love ya,
    Cathy Lewis