Everyone Who Knew Him

“Plain Secrets” , is about the experiences of the writer who lived next to the Amish family who were of the Swartzentruber sect. Written by Joe Mackall.

In this chapter, ” Everyone Who Knew Him”  the author begins addressing some of the horrible accidents that had recently been happening between cars and buggies, resulting in Amish deaths.


buggy on snow covered road

He went on to explore how people deal with such things, often throwing up their hands exclaiming that it was ‘the will of God.”  The author also struggles with the simple faith that his Amish neighbor has…as in he questions it sometimes.

Later on in the chapter, the author went to let Samuel, the Amish next-door-neighbor,  know that his ( the author’s ) Uncle Bob had died a few weeks ago.

” I told him about Uncle Bob. “I just wanted you to know,” I said.

“He was always nice when he came here,” Samuel said. “The girls really like him. Apple butter and eggs seemed to be all he ever wanted. He must have loved apple butter,”

Samuel paused for a few seconds and then asked what I guessed he’d been wanting to ask for a long time.

What exactly was wrong with Uncle Bob? ”

The author explained that a tumor had been found on the frontal lobe of his brain when he was 1 years of age. The plan was to use radiation, but because that treatment was new in the 1930’s, the doctors used too much of it, or for too long of a time and as a result, his brain was damaged. Because of this he couldn’t read or do math, drive, marry or support himself.

“But he could be everybody’s friend and be the lucky owner of an endless spirit…. “Some doctor just screwed up, I said, feeling angry about a man’s damaged life and fresh death.

“Maybe a doctor made a mistake but God didn’t,” Samuel said . “God made Uncle Bob that way because everybody who knew him needed him to be exactly the way he was.

Everybody who knew him needed him to be exactly the way that he was. These words opened up new thought trails in my mind. Over five hundred people attended Uncle Bob’s funeral, making it clear that he knew and was known by people the rest of us saw only as strangers, strangers who sobbed  for a man with a victimized brain and a damaged heart. Everybody who knew him needed him to be exactly the way he was. With Samuel’s words in my head, I decided to let his words soak in.”

suns rays over field

Photos are from the photography book titled “The Gift to be Simple”  which is about various Old Order and other Amish sects in the area where the photographer lived, and after being there for many years, he was permitted to take photographs. Written & Photographed by Bill Coleman.

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Slice of Life ( When people pull together in tragedy )


On Saturday morning I stopped at my sons’ house to find my DIL doing the girls’ hair, lining the kids up for sunscreen application, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary…Javis had football practice then Brent had a soccer game after that. She was on the phone, though, and rather distraught.  When she was able to tell me why it was shocking.

There had been a terrible accident on the highway the evening before. Three people from two local churches had been killed and three more sent to the hospital. She knew all of them…as did my niece, who was very, very close to one of the girls.

They were on their way to an outreach / crusade meeting in West Virginia, sponsored by four churches there.  Two teens and the van driver, a mother of three, had been killed when a large box truck crossed the median and hit them head-on.

I was amazed at the wonderful way that the two churches worked together so quickly that day ….the pastor of one had grown up in the other…teens in the two youth groups often attended events at both churches, etc.

It was not too long before a Facebook post was up with many shares as people became aware of this tragedy….one church would be open for all from 2-4 for prayer and counseling and just mourning together…the other would be open that evening from 6-8.

This is something that the youth particularly needed and both teens attended a local high school…their friends could gather whether they attended these churches or not.


By the time the local news stations and paper had picked up the story ( since it happened in West Virginia…they were on their way from Canonsburg, PA. to West Virginia ) three Go Fund Me accounts had already been set up by friends or family for their funeral expenses. No one had life insurance.

I checked a little while ago and between the three needs it looked as if they had already received more than $25,000.00 ….not just from church members but the community who were informed about this via Facebook or the news stories.


The three that were sent to the hospital were released. It was evidently the driver side of the van that took the direct hit. One of the released teens was the son of the mom who was driving that van.

On every news story, grieving teenages from both churches stressed how they knew their friends were in heaven with the Lord, and they’d see them someday. Grief, shock, faith in God and love of God were expressed by all interviewed in every story.

Then this photo was posted to Facebook  in regards to Sunday morning at Champion Christian Center :  the JV team came to support the player that had lost his mom. Needless to say when I saw this photo there were fresh tears.

What a wonderful display of support from Canon McMillan Fighting Big Mac Football at Champion Christian Center this morning! #BigMacs #weStandTogether”


Generally I like my blog to be the happy place / not recording much trauma but this was life this weekend.  I saw something horrendous and shattering happen and people pull together so quickly in response to it that it was amazing.  America may have her problems but in communities all across her, from sea to shining sea, people still love and support each other.

In memory of : Rhoda Malone, Breanna Africa, Faith Dowler, and in appreciation for my local churches and community.

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Sharing at : Savvy Southern Style / Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson