If you are a Cruiser fan, you may also enjoy Moving Forward in the Rear-View Mirror.

“I am a Cruiser widow” my post began.  I joined IH8Mud.com looking for information.  It’s a website dedicated to the exchange of information for Toyota die-hards.  My husband had been a member for years and spent hours during the cold winter months scouring the site to gather more knowledge from those in-the-know.  He did his research before embarking on any project with the Cruiser.  I was certain I could find some answers there.  What had he been doing out in the shop with his “baby” while I cared for our babies in the house?  I wasn’t sure.  But I was pretty sure somebody on IH8Mud could probably help me.  Not only was I right, but I got much more than I could have ever imagined. The members describe themselves as a “close-knit” group and an on-line “community”.  That they are.  They are many in number and varied in background but come together with a singular purpose- to share their love of Toyotas.  The support and exchange of information that I gathered there resulted in my having a few visitors on Sunday; one, a pilot from CO who is a “forum lifer” and has completed several Cruiser projects of his own; another, also a forum subscriber who turned out to be a neighbor a few blocks from me who is good with pictures, computers, and knows a few other Cruiser guys in the area; and a third, my neighbor’s friend who is a car enthusiast and came along for the ride. “Wow!  He bought genuine Toyota bolts!”   “The frame on this thing is in incredible condition!”  “Ohhh….a complete set of door seals.”  And the exclamations went on and on.  “If a vehicle just looks fancied-up on the outside, it needs to be sold on eBay.  If it’s mechanically sound and a solid vehicle in the guts of it, list it on IH8Mud.  I can tell he took meticulous care of it.  He did it the right way.  He got it the way it should be on the inside before worrying about the outside.   The bonus with this one is that he already did all the research and gathered the parts needed to also make it fancied-up.  Somebody just needs to finish putting it all together.  This is as close to a “barn-find” as one can get these days.  Wow!  This one definitely needs to sell on IH8Mud.”

As I listened to the admiration the “gear heads” had for his work, I felt a renewed appreciation of my husband and his skills.  He was self-taught.  He sand-blasted, welded, patched and painted.  He rebuilt engines and axles.  He got us home over a mountain pass pulling our Scamp, floating the gears in the FJ40 after the clutch broke at the start of a weekend excursion.  While replacing the broken clutch piece he also replaced all the hoses that were accessible while doing the job – just because.  He designed and obtained the parts for a tail gate and swing-away tire/ cooler carrier which his welder friend fabricated.  He was careful and precise.  If he was going to do something, he was going to do it right.  He invested in quality.  He was more concerned with the inside workings of a thing than the outside beauty of it.  That’s a commendable quality in a man.

A couple of the forum subscribers took the effort to search for Jeff’s username on IH8Mud so they could see what he had been chatting about and maybe help me out by that means.  I had tried several variations that I thought might be his name but with no luck.  Someone else found it for me.  And so I got to read all of his 46 comments.  There weren’t any posts about his latest accomplishments or pictures of the fine work he’d done.  I saw our Scamp listed for sale.  It sold in September 2007- one more thing God took care of before we knew we needed it.  I saw him looking for front mud flaps for the Lexus which explains why I don’t have running boards on it.  I saw him posting problems and asking for solutions.  And, surprisingly, I saw him write on the forum encouraging someone he had never met to seek to know the God of heaven who loves him so much that He offers eternal life to all those who believe in Him.  And my heart was moved.  Jeff lived his personal life the same way he worked on his car.  He was quiet about his walk with God.  It wasn’t all “fancied-up” on the outside.  He had been doing his homework and getting the “parts together” for years.  The changes in his life were occurring in the “guts of it” – not always obvious to the outsider, or, even the insider.

Another blessing from the weekend came as a totally unexpected surprise.  Now follow this one closely because it is so hard to believe.  The forum subscriber, who turned out to be my neighbor a few blocks away, stopped by the car enthusiast’s house to pick him up before coming to look at the vehicle at my house.  His friend’s wife was also on her way out the door, headed to a graduation party.  She pulled out of the drive first.  Imagine their surprise when the forum subscriber proceeded to follow her as they both headed to their separate destinations.  The graduation party the car enthusiast’s wife was attending was at my next door neighbor’s house.  She’s good friends with my neighbor.  After spending time at the party, she came over to my driveway where the “pit crew” was gathered.  She wanted to introduce herself.  Totally unbeknown to me, at the request of my next door neighbor she’s been faithfully praying for me for the past 1 1/2 years.

God is good… and faithful… all the time.  Who would have thought I would be reminded of that through a website called IH8Mud.com?

Leave a comment


  1. Evelyn

     /  January 2, 2012


  2. Sylvia, it has been some time since you wrote this, but I just came across the thread on ‘Mud, and followed your link to this story. I can only offer my deepest sympathies. I have lost many loved ones to cancers of various sorts, including my father twenty years ago (he was 46 at the time) and my Grandma just few years ago, who also “quiet with her walk with God” and not “all fancied up about it on the outside.” I never had enough time with him, and she was the most important person in my life. I think about both on a daily basis, as I am sure you and your children think about Jeff. Thank you for sharing your story, even though I am having a hard time writing this, as anyone’s story of losing one so close always hits me pretty hard. I guess that is what they call empathy. May God hold you and grant you peace and strength.
    Eron Norris

    • Eron, thanks for taking the time to read. There is a tie that binds those who have survived such loss. Our stories are all different, but in some way the same.


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