Reflections: Shattered dreams and broken barbecues

George Rowe


On March 2 we arrived in town in the early afternoon and walking into our house we realized we were home. We quickly discovered that not much had changed in Tumbler Ridge. There was still plenty of snow and ice, some small talk about the coal mines, the new $400-million Meikle wind project, real estate prospects and unemployed workers moving on as more and more jobs are being secured outside of the mining industry. Generally people still remain optimistic and upbeat. Not over the top but certainly on a level of acceptability with all things being considered.

During our short visit I asked about the effectiveness of the new Town Council, opening date for the new Tourism Information Centre, growth or decline of the local churches and the general overall health of Tumbler Ridge. I was pleased in that all my questions and concerns were given a passing grade. My wife and I thoroughly enjoy TR and look forward to the day when we can actually retire and live out our remaining years in a lovely house on Valleyview Place.

We leave our Pastoral responsibilities in Chetwynd and occasionally come home to rest, relax and have our energy restored. With the excitement of what is happening in our church at Chetwynd, we sometimes feel like children in a candy store—over the top excitement.

On this particular evening our daughter and granddaughter dropped by for a visit and in the wild and sometimes very loud conversations we discussed what is most important, family. We talked about the past, the present and where God will lead us as we march into the future. For Sheila and me, our family is the most important entity on the planet. It was a very nice evening and after the children had left we talked about that which we had to pack and load into our truck as we head back to Chetwynd the next day.

I have a lovely office and library in the basement family room and I find it very restful as I read volumes of books or magazines or just sit and reflect on life and how blessed I am. I filled several boxes with stuff that I need to take back to Chetwynd – Bible studies, mission, vision and core value statements along with sermon material and some of my favorite books.

While I was engaged in the quietness and almost holy atmosphere of my office and library, my wife was in another room doing her thing. She was packing things that I thought were left back in NL more than twenty-five years ago. My wife has a unique way of resurrecting stuff that I thought was long since dead, buried and desiccated with the passing of time but no, there it is again so let’s pack it up.

The next day we had carefully and very meticulously packed the little Ford Ranger with boxes, packages and totes of various sizes. One of the bigger items was our new and very popular barbecue—the great Master Chef. Man we worked hard to get that thing in the box of the truck.

I secured that rascal (the barbecue, not my wife), with boxes, crates and totes. A never-before-used yellow rope was carefully wrapped and secured around the barbecue. I stood back and admired the sheer cleverness of an old man. I even made a calculated guess as to the worst case scenario if by one chance in a million that barbecue might move. The worse possible case, the very worse, was having the prized possession of George and Sheila just gently fall on its side and be cushioned by the other paraphernalia in the truck box.

Then it happened, my wife came on the scene. “George, you know that rope will not hold the barbecue in place if it should be hit with a gust of wind or if we hit a bump in the road. You should…”

By the time she finished challenging my expertise and offering totally ridiculous alternative solutions, the sun was dipping toward the horizon. I said, “Whatever. Let’s go.” Imagine, I am now having second thoughts about my own ingenious proficiency in securing the Master Chef.

We are about five minutes out of town and I ask, “Do we have any chocolate bars?” “Yes,” said my wife. “But they are behind the seat and I can’t reach them.” I pulled off to the side of the road and waited for my wife to search for the chocolate bars. Bingo! My favorite, Oh Henry.

While she is messing around behind the seat I keep nervously looking into the rearview mirror, now questioning the security of the barbecue.

We unwrap our little treat and pulled back onto the pavement. I was picking up a little bit of speed and at about 90 km an hour I was glued to the mirror and I saw it move.

As if in slow motion, but moving so fast that I could do nothing, the barbecue literally rose up in the air, stripped itself of the yellow ropes, jumped over the boxes, packages and totes and sailed right over the tailgate, skidding to a stop in the middle of the highway. My wife shouted, “What the…was that?” “WE lost the barbecue,” I said.

“WE did not lose the barbecue,” she shouted. “YOU lost the barbecue, you stunned lump. I told you that rope would not hold it in place if hit by a good gust of wind.” I quickly got out and noticed a zillion pieces of metal stretched out for about fifty yards.

It was so embarrassing and the last thing I wanted at that moment in time was for someone to drive by that I knew personally—thank God it didn’t happen. It was kind of funny as we accused each other, running back and forth to the truck like busy ants as we threw piece after broken piece of shiny metal into the box.

The nice thing is that while we had to use a ramp to push the barbecue into the back of the truck, it was much easier now because it went back in pieces. I couldn’t believe how many different pieces, nuts and bolts make up a barbecue but we found a whole bunch.

For the second time I pulled the truck back onto the pavement with complete and absolute silence filling the cab. We were hardly breathing, afraid to say or do anything that might put the other into a rage. I slowly reached for the remaining pieces of my chocolate bar, carefully so as not to set off the ticking time bomb. She was ready to explode and the collateral damage would be worse than that of the initial explosion of a barbecue hitting the pavement.

I was thinking, “How am I to handle this? Betray my manhood and masculinity by actually apologizing to her? No way.” However, the silence was deafening and just as we were approaching Gwillim Lake I gave in. I yielded. I humbled myself. I wanted to desperately save my marriage and a busted barbecue wasn’t going to take that away. No sir.

Sheepishly I said, “Sweetheart, you were right.” I can’t believe I said it. Even as I type I can’t believe I said it but I did. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. Please forgive me……Can I have another chocolate bar?” The rest of the drive was small talk. She did forgive me, with some bantering about when we could afford another Master Chef. The broken down barbecue is now sitting in the back garden waiting for the dump – oh the sweet memories of moose steak done to perfection.

Later on that night we reflected on the day and with the calamity of losing our prize possession we were still so grateful for the gift of life. Things and stuff will become a part of our past while eternal values will be forever. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20). We will put value on eternal matters while remembering that the sun is always shining.