Tuesday, October 11, 2011

End of the trail

When you read this I have come to the end of the trail, rode off into the last sunset, cashed in my chips, however you want to say it. I’m history … gone from this world.

I started writing this in August 2011 when I went from being on the liver transplant list, hopeful and waiting for that phone call, to the doctor telling me the cancer had come back big time. They told me the transplant was no longer an option and said, “You should get your ducks lined up, boy.”

Well, I am prepared for when the end of the trail comes and when it forks, I’m taking the high road. I have always wondered what was over the next hill. Now I’m going up the biggest hill and I won’t need any brakes as I won’t be going down the other side.

As you would imagine, I have been a lot closer to God the last couple years. I have been a believer for a long time. How could one not be after roaming around this country for 68-plus years, 45 of them in a truck admiring God’s handiwork? I believe Christ died on the cross for all, and my sins were forgiven. I think about an old song recorded by the Carter family called “Fifty Miles of Elbow Room.” What I take away from it is – if you don’t hit the gate to heaven dead center, there are 50 miles on either side. I hope so. A few of us who are not perfect could probably use a little wiggle room.

I’m going to miss family and friends, especially my wife Geri. We married in ‘74, but I will see her again plus all the others who will come along and those who have gone ahead.

I’ve had a good life, did what I was meant to do, be a trucker. Not to worry about me. I’ve been in hospitals – mostly for outpatient treatments, including the VA near my home in Lafayette, IN, and Riley Children’s Hospitals – and I would have to be blind not to see people worse off than me. I’ve even had a retirement gig writing for Land Line Magazine using a talent (so they tell me) that I didn’t know I had. God given is the only explanation and it’s been a joy.

A few regrets, mostly not completing my “bucket list.” Geri for years has wanted to go to the Holy Lands. I wouldn’t because I was afraid of flying over there with all the unrest in those countries. I regret it now.

Another on this list was getting a 30-day Amtrak pass so I could be bored and visit friends around the country. I also wanted to go down the Grapevine on a skateboard.

Recapping a lifetime in a blog is impossible, so by the time you read this I’ll be swapping stories of life on Earth and have eternity to do it.

We are all travelers on this Earth, passing from one eternity to the next, from the sweet grass to the packing house. So, for now, so long.

Bob Martin aka “Cowpoke”

Editor’s note: Cowpoke passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Bob’s closing lines were from a TV miniseries called “Broken Trail” starring Robert Duvall as Prentice Ritter.


  1. Cowpoke, when I see clouds racing across the sky, I'll figure that St. Pete dispatched your Pete on a run that had to get there on time and on the level. Me and Rufus are gonna miss you, pardner.

  2. I don't know which I admired most about Bob.... his ability to tell a tall trucker tale in one breath or never leave you wondering where he stood on a issue.

    Truly a one of a kind guy who will be missed.

    Prayers to Geri and the family.

  3. The Wise Man's Stone
    A wise man who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day he met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise man opened his bag to share his food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone in the wise man's bag, admired it, and asked the wise man to give it to him. The wise man did so without hesitation.

    The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the jewel was worth enough to give him security for the rest of his life.

    But a few days later he came back, searching for the wise man. When he found him, he returned the stone and said, "I have been thinking. I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back to you in the hope that you can give me something much more precious. If you can, give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.
    I know what a tremendous loss Bobs' passing is. It is a huge loss to all of us who knew him. I feel the little story above pretty much tells the story of Bob 'Cowpoke' Martin. I knew him only a very short time, but in that short time he made such a wonderful impression on me that I felt I knew him my whole life. How wonderful it must have been for Ya'll who were able to know him for his lifetime. I know God has given Bob that final Dispatch to come on home. I know that he will get some much deserved rest and peace of mind, and he will watch over and guide us all in our travels down lifes road. I Welcome our new "Guardian Angel"... Bob 'Cowpoke' Martin Rest In Peace Pardner

  4. You made history with each step you took. Each footprint created a lasting legacy. You've left your mark and made it a good one. You are missed my friend...............

  5. Bob, Tell Bette that we miss her and I got her camera back yesterday. I promise that the first pictures I shoot with it will be trucks along the interstate! We're going to miss you! Geri, you are in our thoughts and prayers! Kim Grimm

  6. Man, what a way to go...on your own terms with your own words. What a testimony.

    Makes one reallly search your own thoughts...

  7. Farewell Ole Trucker. Those were the days. God's turned his back on me lately, and those calling themselves Christians are usually The Mean Kids, like back in Jr. High, but I'm glad believing was good for this gentleman. Haven't laughed for a long while, until I read his Bucket List entry about Riding a Skateboard Down Grapevine! I laughed outloud...Thanks, Cowpoke! Now there's a person I wished I'd have known--what a great perspective! Heartfelt sympathies to his beloved Wife and Family. Former OTR Trucker, PA

  8. How can someone I've never met touch me so deeply that I felt I knew him? His life had such purpose, and even in death, he reaches out in such an incredible way. How poignant, how inspiring, how intuitive. God bless his wife and family, how great a loss you must feel, yet at the same time you must feel complete. You will see him again, our Lord has assured it! God Bless Jen O!

  9. Having Bob as a columnist on our staff was like having him in the office. He worked from his home computer in Lafayette, IN, but he checked in in the a.m. and emailed (or talked on the phone) to us all day. His emails were "mini blogs" in which he reacted to trucking news of the day with his wry comments. He would always check out with an email, too. Like "it's six o'clock, boss, and I am signing off." Yes, we sure do miss him.


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