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The sacrifice: Losing a loved one during COVID-19 while trying to run a towing business

Kimbra Roberts

I been very fortunate to not lose many family members like so many others have at a young age. I’m very grateful to have my parents through most of my adulthood. My parents started with nothing to their name. However they were driven to succeed and started a auto repair company which developed into a tow company. 

I grew up in the business learning that if you want something in life you have to work for it. Nothing in life is given to you. My father never took time off and worked 24/7 my whole life to serve the public and put smiles on everyone he meets face. My mother was the strong one that keep the finances organized and voiced her opinion when it mattered most. This story is nothing unique or above anyone else’s story of loss, it’s just mine. Everyone experiences loss. 

A touching story of sacrifice form a county resident

This April was extremely difficult for my father and I. My mother had emphysema for 10 years and in January of this year she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. They could never determine what kind of cancer it was. I stayed positive knowing my mother was the toughest woman I knew. She could beat this no matter what. We started the process of radiation and then chemo. During this time the business had to still run like it always has. In towing you sacrifice your life. It consumes you like no other business. It’s not a 8-5 company. You are 24/7 to be on the scene no matter what your excuse is. Its required to show up on the scene in 30-45 minutes and no later because thats not an option.

Tow companies have to meet several demands or you risk losing a contract. Law enforcement, EMS, and fire departments have government backing, support crews, and shifts. Small tow companies have the owners and hope to have faithful, experienced, and trustworthy employees which we are very fortunate to have. This business consumed my everyday and all night thoughts while trying to put my dying mother’s care first with the help of my father. My father was trying to not lose the love of his life for 50 years. 

She was losing weight rapidly but I forced food down her anyways and told her she was going to be fine. April 20, 2020 unknowingly my brother Michael and I brought her to her normal chemo appointment. It was a rough morning, she had already fell twice. She couldn’t talk much. I wanted to give her a hug today and everyday before this but I had to becareful because she was very vulnerable to sickness especially with COVID and me having children that could transfer from them to me to her. This day April 20th her pulse dropped and she was taken from chemo by EMS. I couldn’t hug her, I couldn’t go in the er with her, I yelled to her on the way into the hospital “I love you mom it will be ok.” Well 40 mins later I called her cell phone and she was upset that no one was helping her in the ER. They put her in the room and left her. She yelled and cried wanting me to get her out of there but I couldn’t because I wasn’t allowed in due to COVID restrictions.

One hour later I found out she passed and my father brother and I watched them finish trying to recessitate her then said goodbye even though she was already gone.  I let my mother down and my father because I let the business consume me. I let the business in my family time even during the time my mother was passing. Phone calls came in, tows came in, emails came in. The constant worry that a owner endures is hard to grasp unless your in the role. The owner worried constantly about hoping there is enough calls for the employees to make a decent check. There are too many calls now they are not getting proper rest. I hope the trucks keep running and have been inspected proper and are being driven safe. I hope this customer is still happy. I could go on and on with the constant ups and downs a owner endures in towing and it’s not just 8-5 it’s all day and night. The sacrifice a tow owner makes like my parents have done for 22 + years is unimaginable.

However tow companies are not treated as first responders or hero’s but required vehicle grabbers that are replaceable or disposable no matter what sacrifice has been made. My father is the nicest man you’ll ever meet with a contagious happiness he spreads when you meet him. He aims everyday to put a smile on someone’s face. Recently part of that spark my father shared has been damaged by the loss of his other half for 50 years is gone. I wanted to share a piece of what a tow owner and the employees commit to when they take on emergency response. There is no I’ll get to the vehicle later, I just won’t answer the call, or I’ll tell them to call someone else. It’s extremely high risk, very costly to operate and no room for error. Tow owners are obligated to answer the call and respond. This is only a small piece of what sacrifice is involved in the life of a tow owner and what employees even experience. However after the passing of my mother during COVID this has made me realize I will no longer put the tow business before my family. I may be hungry for a bit and lose contacts but I can’t get back a moment in life that’s no longer available.