Monthly Archives: August 2015

The pizza man thought the dog statue was real; Mary would have had a good belly laugh for sure.

The other day, the pizza delivery man thought that the pug garden statue on our front porch was a real dog and hesitated to pull into the driveway. Mary would have had a good belly laugh for sure.

Sun angles on house 036Sun angles on house 034

Cats and dogs 004 Even when she was little, Mary loved pugs

& always got excited when she saw the one on our paper route. She got herself a stuffed toy one (or maybe we gave it to her for a birthday present?) and later a garden statue/lawn ornament.

I’m thankful that I was able to capture Mary laughing in this impromptu magic show with her brother:

Mary and Levi take a break from getting-ready-to-move chores to have a little fun.

Letter from wife of truck driver killed by fatigued truck driver: Federal studies show longer truck trailers dangerous.

By Express-Times Letters to the Editor
on July 31, 2015 at 11:28 AM

“I am writing in response to Mark Rosenker’s July 28 letter, “Longer truck trailers have a good safety record.”  Nearly three years ago my husband Brad, a truck driver, was killed by a fatigued truck driver who swerved off the road and struck Brad while he was standing on the shoulder. Sadly, this crash is not unique. All too often I read about a construction worker hit by a semi in a work zone, or a family crushed in their minivan simply because the truck driver did not apply the brakes soon enough.

Yet some people in Washington believe it’s time to increase the length of double tractor trailers, from 28 feet per trailer to 33 feet. Proponents of the increase rely on one study — industry-funded junk science that claims these longer trucks to be safer. That is false. . . ”

“. . .  These differences could be what prompts yet another wife or mother to write a letter to the editor on truck safety.

Kim Telep

Read other posts on this topic

Trekkin’ for AnnaLeah & Mary on the Ice Age Trail

Before this summer, I had never heard of the Ice Age Trail. We were going to a party for Jerry’s mom–in celebration of her life in her 90th year. Afterwards, our whole family (minus Rebekah’s husband, John–and, of course, AnnaLeah & Mary) spent the better part of a week at a cottage in Wisconsin–some of us stayed longer than others.


In preparation for such a detailed endeavor, Naomi mentioned that they would be camping and hiking enroute to the party. They also hoped to do some additional hiking during the week. So I asked the cottage owner if she knew of any trails in the area and she mentioned the Ice Age Trail:

Sam & Naomi left the cottage early most mornings to check out the trails. Before they left to go back home they had covered 28 miles of the Ice Age Trail. I was privileged to join them for 3 1/2 miles.

Because I did not have a dog to keep track of on our hike, I was able to take photographs here and there as we walked–though not with the professional quality which would have been achieved with photos taken by Sam and Naomi. Once I got home, I put together a short video to help me remember the day and the memories it brought of AnnaLeah and Mary and the ways that they found to enjoy nature.

Sam & Naomi invited me to take a Karth Trek hike on a portion of the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. Sam took Mary’s stuffed toy St. Bernard, Gertie–along with the 3 Karth Trekking dogs (Django, Miles, & Billie). I think that Mary & AnnaLeah would have enjoyed the adventure–joining Sam on the big rock, walking through the woods, fields, & hilly terrain, and playing Pooh Sticks with me on the bridge over the creek.

Before we began, Naomi made sure that I was informed on the proper way to react if we saw a black bear (vs a grizzly bear). She was — at one and the same time — hopeful that she could add a bear to the list of things she’d seen and edgy about the possibility. I, for one, was definitely more jumpy than if we had not had that particular conversation. It wasn’t so bad in the wide open areas of the trail, but the spots which had lots of trees and undergrowth — and thus low visibility — were more nerve-wracking.

All in all, we saw a great variety of interesting things on our hike. Lamb’s Ear, which Naomi tells me can be crushed and then applied to mosquito bites. Burnt branches. Many varieties of wildflowers, including Indian Paintbrush. Tiger (Orange Day) Lilies. Ferns. Tall pines & lots of short oak “trees.” Yarrow.

The terrain also varied greatly–with pebbles on only some parts and a big rock which Sam climbed up on in another area.  One time when Sam was in the lead, he quietly called back to us to look ahead at the rafter (or muster) of wild turkeys walking along the trail.

In fact, we found quite a few feathers on the ground: turkey, hawk, seagull, and bluebird.

A Karner Blue Butterfly:

A rock cairn.

Thanks, Sam & Naomi, for sharing with me your love and knowledge of God’s creation.

Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 093Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 105 Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 104 Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 090Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 133Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 174Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 1228 Picture 657Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 159Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 140Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 08912 Picture 724Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 192Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 10310 Picture 7029e sisters at Battle Park, Rocky Mount 2013 (5)Dad, AnnaLeah, & Mary (Winter 2013) hiking a trail at Battle Park, Rocky Mount, NC

73 gertie 2291Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 154

Youtube video of Mary with Django (October 2012, Warsaw Indiana):


Yarrow on the trail and at the cemetery: Michigan 60 party and cemetery 037 Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 157

Tiger Lilies on the trail and in the altar flowers (May 3, 2015 in memory of AnnaLeah & Mary) and at the cemetery:

Trip North 2015 Wisconsin 102Altar flowers 008Altar flowers 023 Altar flowers 024



A Twitter Conversation About Improved Auto Safety Compromised by Truck Safety Flaw

THANK YOU, IIHS, for your ongoing and enlightening work in road safety research!

“‘Ridiculous and tragic:’ Why insurance is unlikely to cover Simeon’s crash victims”

‘Ridiculous and tragic:’ Why insurance is unlikely to cover Simeon’s crash victims

“ITHACA, N.Y. — In 1980, the U.S. Congress passed a bill forcing all trucking companies operating across state lines to have insurance that covered at least $750,000 in damages in the event of a crash.

That number hasn’t been raised in the 35 years since.

‘It’s so pathetically low,’ says John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition. ‘That $750,000 is not going to be anywhere close to covering the cost of a catastrophic crash.’

The company that owned the truck that hit Simeon’s in downtown Ithaca on June 20, 2014, had a policy of $1 million, which is considered by experts to be slightly higher than the $750,000 minimum. That information was confirmed in legal papers released earlier this month, in which the Sparta Insurance Firm asked the court to divide the $1 million between possible victims.”

Read more here:

Almost birthday girl, you would have been sweet sixteen: “The ships have come to carry you home”

Sixteen years ago just now, my water broke and Mary got ready to join her family in this realm. Well, in a few hours.

Tonight, we just finished a mini-movie-marathon (without them) — re-watching The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

So many funny moments and so many poignant lines. Like this. . .

Frodo: “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on… when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend… some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold. Bilbo once told me his part in this tale would end… that each of us must come and go in the telling. Bilbo’s story was now over. There would be no more journeys for him… save one. My dear Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on.”

From life’s first cry to final breath, Mary, Jesus commanded your destiny. . .

1i newborn Mary and Susanna (1)Gertie reaching for Mary ...Susanna's film

(Photo: Susanna Karth)

No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck you from His hand. (In Christ Alone)

As you run Into the West. . .

“What can you see,
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
a pale moon rises.

Bear's Adventure with Mary photos

Bear Photo Story 1 001


(Photos: The Karths, Naomi & Sam)

“The ships have come
to carry you home.
And all will turn
to silver glass.
A light on the water,
All souls pass.

Hope fades,
Into the world of night.
Through shadows falling,
Out of memory and time.

Don’t say,
We have come now to the end.
White shores are calling.
You and I will meet again.


getting farther away patch of blue

(Photos: The Karths, Naomi & Sam)

You were our wonderfulwigglyworm.marylydiakarth  (www.mlk), and we can hardly wait to see you and your sister again.

Are we left more vulnerable and unprotected than we should be?

So, as of 2:45 p.m. today,  I no longer have any children under 18. Well, the ones that are alive, that is. That doesn’t count AnnaLeah, who would have been 20 now (but is forever 17), or Mary, who would have turned 16 in two days (but is forever 13).

1bb at the hospital to see Mary


Mary’s 8 siblings meet her for the first time 16 years ago.

Sixteen years ago, I was very pregnant for Mary and stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken to get birthday supper for her 2 year-old brother. I always figured he was fortunate that she waited two days so that I wasn’t in the hospital on his birthday.

1a Mom with Caleb waiting for Mary to be born 001

They often had joint birthday parties — usually on the day-between — when their grandpa would come over. They each got to pick part of the menu and what they wanted for dessert. When they got old enough to leave alone, they would always watch Condor Man  at home while the rest of us went birthday shopping for them.

This was the year that AnnaLeah picked out Gertie (the stuffed toy St. Bernard in memory of our dog) for her sister Mary’s birthday present:

73c Mary bday 4 001


They weren’t twins, but, especially because they were part of a large family, they spent a lot of time together.

1i newborn Mary and Susanna (2)30 b baby Mary with Caleb and Mom

60 b Mary Caleb 002 61 b Mary Caleb Dad 62 b Mary Caleb Dad 00163 Mary and Caleb sleeping

69 Mary bday two 00362c Mary Caleb

64 Mary and Isaac 00175 Mary caleb AnnaLeah brick dominos

I might as well talk about it here–because it has been so much on my mind as of late. I am still struggling with that whole question of protection and keeping us free from harm.

From the very beginning — the day before their funeral — I have struggled with what Psalm 91 really means. . .

Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord. 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.  15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in [e]trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 “With [f]a long life I will satisfy him And [g]let him see My salvation.” 

On Eagles’ Wings

Here is a Bible Commentary on Psalm 91:

What does He mean when He says that He will protect and preserve us?

Protect: keep safe from harm or injury, save, safeguard, preserve, et cetera.

Preserve: maintain in its original state, protect, and so on.

I got an email from Focus on the Family today and the subject line was “Reassured that God is always with us. ”

I am very tired now and rambling, but I want to get this written down as I get closer to facing Mary’s would-have-been 16th birthday.

Yesterday, I took our son’s cat to the vet. Oscar had been in a long car ride in April from his home in Texas to North Carolina. So, as soon as I put him in the cat carrier and began driving the car, Oscar meowed pitifully. All the way to the vet.

In an effort to calm him down, I began singing the lullaby (tune: Rock-a-bye Baby) which I had sung to my nine children:

Snuggle now, baby, in Jesus’ arms. When the storm comes, He’ll keep you from harm. When the winds blow, and when the winds cease, you know that with Jesus, you can have peace.

I don’t think that it calmed Oscar. And it made me cry–thinking of how He had not kept AnnaLeah and Mary from harm (how Mary had called out, “Mommy, where are we?” and AnnaLeah had been silent). Had I lied to my children all of those years?

I read these verses this morning:

Psalm 91:10 No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.

Proverbs 12:21 No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.

Proverbs 1:33But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil.

Psalm 121: 3 He will not allow your foot to slip, He who keeps you will not slumber.

5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

7 The LORD will protect [keep] you from all evil, He will keep your soul.

8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.

I texted our pastor in Texas as I was on the way to their funeral there and said that I was struggling with Psalm 91. He said that he would be speaking to that in his sermon, “They are where they belong.”

I know that they are in a better place than if they were still here. But still. . .  I mean, really, don’t you ever ask questions like these? Don’t you ever ask Him what He really means when He says He will protect us?

And, of course, I have come face to face with the realities of the many possible factors in crash fatalities (i.e., deaths due to supposed accidents which quite possibly could have been prevented if this and that thing had or had not been done). These are things  — quite clearly — in which God does not intervene and supernaturally block in order to save lives. No, these are problems which require human action to solve them.

At the same time, I am convinced that it would be His will that the roads be safer–that we humans take dominion over this part of His created world. And I believe that He is even now guiding us to seek and bring about needed change.

Some people talk about Vision Zero–about being proactive and working toward ending deaths on our roads. It doesn’t just happen. And it certainly doesn’t happen by burying our heads in the sand and pretending that the problems don’t exist.

Don’t you get it?! I mean, maybe I have been naive and expected that I and my loved ones would get through life without tragedy. Now, when I see tragedy “strike,” I am more ready to ask, “Did that really have to happen? Could it have been avoided?”

I am more prone to ask, “What can we do to provide The Best Possible Protection?” Before it is too late.

Just today, someone told me about yet another missed opportunity to  improve underride guards in 1998: ,  & “Or, maybe it’s a case of standard failure. In 1996, the agency went the don’t-ruffle-industry’s-feathers route, passing a final rule {the current one} that offered only a slight improvement over the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association’s voluntary recommended practice.” “In 1998, a former NHTSA safety standards engineer underscored the inadequacy of the U.S. rules in a series of crash tests involving rear underride guards built to reflect the then-newly minted rear impact protection standard. . . Tomassoni also noted that the underride guard designed to meet the minimum static load requirements “will not provide adequate protection in offset impacts.””

And that was many years before my girls were even a twinkle in their daddy’s eye. But it was never done–the known problem was never resolved–and so AnnaLeah and Mary were left more vulnerable and un-protected than they should have been. And it breaks my heart.

25 AnnaLeah Jesus Loves Me 052


AnnaLeah made this craft when she was little, “In my life, Lord, Thy will be done.” and that is my comfort: they had the gift of faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. And so I know that they are truly safe in His arms–though they are far from mine.

“Grieving family’s tireless efforts paying off,” by Brie Handgraaf

A reporter from Rocky Mount has been following our story since we got back to North Carolina in May 2013 after the crash. She published an article in today’s Rocky Mount Telegram following the recent Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking for rear underride protection on Single Unit Trucks–encouraging readers to write a Public Comment and make a difference.

“Grieving family’s tireless efforts paying off,” By Brie Handgraaf, Staff Writer,

Monday, August 3, 2015

Thanks, Brie!

The Public can Comment on the rulemaking here:

Other articles by Brie Handgraaf:

Picture 667

ELDs for Trucker Hours; Minimum Liability; & Underride Guards: AL&MSUFTS Petition Update

AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition

Petition Request

Current Rulemaking Stage

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

The Petition’s 11,000+ signatures were added to the Public Comments for the Electronic Logging Device Rule.  The comment period ended May 27, 2014.

Final Rule is scheduled to be published by 9/30/15.

Companies would then have 2 years from that date to comply.

Minimum Liability Insurance

ANPRM was issued on 11/28/14 meaning: FMCSA announced that it is considering a rulemaking that would increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers.

Public Comments closed on 2/26/15.

Those Comments are now being reviewed.

Trucking industry has attempted to get an amendment passed this summer on the THUD Appropriations Bill which would take away funding from FMCSA for continuing the rulemaking process.

Underride Guards

Based on the petition, available information, and the agency’s analysis in progress, NHTSA has decided that the Petitioners’ request related to rear impact guards merits further consideration. Therefore, the agency grants the Petitioners’ request to initiate rulemaking on rear impact guards. NHTSA is planning on issuing two separate notices—an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to rear impact guards and other safety strategies for single unit trucks, and a notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on rear impact guards on trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA is still evaluating the Petitioners’ request to improve side guards and front override guards and will issue a separate decision on those aspects of the petition at a later date.

Proposed Rulemaking was issued for rear impact guards on tractor-trailers on July 10, 2014. This is the rulemaking stage in which an agency proposes to add to or change its existing regulations and solicits public comment on this proposal. Recommendations for revision of existing regulations are expected to be issued for Public Comments before the end of 2015.

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Single Unit Trucks was issued on 7/23/15, with the Public Comments Period closing on September 21, 2015. This will be followed by an analysis of the Comments and a determination about whether or not, or how best, to initiate a rulemaking.!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;D=NHTSA-2015-0070

Here is an outline of the rulemaking process:

Update on Electronic Logging Devices: “FMCSA advances e-log mandate, rule sent to OMB for approval”

This means that the Electronic Logging Devices rule could be going into effect by September 30 and the industry would have to comply with it within two years.

“Still seemingly on target for its projected Sept. 30 publication, a Final Rule to mandate the use of electronic logging devices has been sent from the DOT to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for final approval before being published.

The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent the e-log rule to the OMB July 30, along with a Final Rule that will implement stiffer penalties for carriers, shippers, brokers and others who coerce or pressure drivers to not abide by federal safety standards like hours-of-service limits.

The OMB legally has 90 days to approve the rules or send them back to FMCSA to be changed, which is unlikely.

The rule, which will take effect two years following its publication in the Federal Register, will require all truck drivers who are required to keep records of duty status to use an electronic logging device, formerly known as electronic onboard recorders.”

Battle over Truckers’ Hours of Service

“In responding to the report, the DOT noted the GAO had recognized achievements associated with the hours rule: A decrease in the frequency of long work schedules, lower risk of driver fatigue generally, and reduced fatal truck crashes. It agreed with the GAO recommendation to adopt guidance outlining research standards for future analyses and promised a detailed response to the entire effort within the next 60 days.”

Petition Photo Bags at DOT, best


Bittersweet peace & pain. Almost as if I was there–though they would never be here.

The other day, I was able to visit AnnaLeah’s and Mary’s grave site for the first time by myself. Weeding & watering. Bringing stones I had found in North Carolina from a place they never got to visit. Watching the flickering light move across their headstone as the sun rays came through the tree branches swaying in the breeze. Hearing the birds and wind chimes. Bittersweet peace & pain.

At first I took photos and then realized I could capture the flickering lights with video on my camera. I came home and made a video of it–followed by shots from their funeral and video from a visit they had made to a Chicago cemetery to search for Karth/Wilkinson headstones (2010?) and accompanied by their Grandpa Waldron singing & playing Amazing Grace on his dulcimer. (Oh, and don’t be surprised when you hear Mary’s voice.  While I was filming at the cemetery, I had Jerry call my phone which has a ringtone created by Mistress Mary Quite Contrary.)

I was reluctant to leave and go on to the next thing on my journey that day. But I had the comfort of knowing that I would go home and be able to see it all again at any time–almost as if I was there. Though they would never again be here.