Justin’s Red Truck: A Tale of a LIfe Well-Lived

The facebook post caught my eye. There was the Weber family, standing proudly in front of a bright red pickup truck purchased for their son. Sweet photo. Good People. But then, there was more: Julie Weber’s caption:

“We found a truck for Camden and picked it up today in Germantown. It was a bittersweet sale for the Langenhorst family who sold the truck belonging to their 29 year-old son who died of brain cancer last January. This truck was his pride and joy. His mom told me she put a picture of him in the glovebox and hoped it was okay. We are honored to have Justin’s truck.”

I had to know more. Julie was kind enough to get me in touch with Justin’s family. Such a sweet story deserved an article.

First, let me tell you who Justin Langenhorst was…and is in the hearts of his loving family and friends. By the way, now that I’ve gotten to know him, God’s placed Justin in my heart, too.

Justin was a kind person with a compassionate heart for everybody. He shared a bright smile with everyone, in spite of challenges he faced in his life. He was first diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was only four years old. After surgery and many rounds of radiation, the tumor went dormant, but some side effects remained.

Because of physical challenges, Justin couldn’t grow up like everyone else. He had to live with a learning disability and many other issues such as diminished balance and shortened endurance. This affected his life in a multitude of ways.

Justin would not be overcome by any special needs, however. He always had a smile on his face and loved life. He persevered growing up, working in local gas stations. Everybody seemed to know and love Justin. He was the type of person who would drop what he was doing the second someone said they needed help. His kindness and enthusiasm were contagious.

 

Justin is what I call a God Gift, a special person given to us for a short period of time.

Having worked with cancer patients, I’ve known quite a few God gifts. They reflect joy. They enjoy the gift of life. They’ve got a lot to teach me.  As a matter of fact, Justin reminds me of this Bible verse:

This is the day the Lord had made; 

let us rejoice and be glad in it Psalm 118:24

Family was everything to Justin and he loved spending time with them. He never took a moment for granted. There was fun to be had camping, four-wheeling and going to Cardinal games.

And then….there was Justin’s truck. Justin saved and saved to be able to afford a new truck. He was very proud to purchase his special truck in 2012 and took meticulous care of it.

Unfortunately, in 2015, Justin was diagnosed with brain tumors and resolutely began his battle again. Through it all, he never lost his infectious smile and zest for life and family.

Justin was only 29 years old when he passed away, leaving a grieving community and the beautiful red truck. Justin’s parents said it was hard to part with his truck, but when they met the Webers, they knew they had found the family to treasure the truck which symbolizes the vitality and beauty of Justin’s life. Justin’s mom tucked a photo of her son inside the glove compartment…

“I want them to remember the wonderful guy who owned the truck.”

Justin’s mom sums up Justin’s legacy in the best way: “In spite of all his special needs, Justin never let challenges overcome him. He was always happy-go-lucky and lived life to the fullest, caring for everyone along the way. If everyone had a little bit of Justin in them, the world would be a better place.”

WOW! I could learn a lot from Justin. When I see a red truck, I’ll think of him and his beautiful legacy of kindness.  I will also think of God’s message of rejoicing in each day.

Thanks for the life lesson, God and Justin.

4 thoughts on “Justin’s Red Truck: A Tale of a LIfe Well-Lived

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