God gave Larry Roebuck a wakeup call in the early 2000s.
Roebuck was driving a truck carrying a load of eggs when the load shifted, taking the entire rig with it. The truck turned on its side and pinned his left arm underneath it. Roebuck awoke later in a hospital bed in Atlanta, his arm badly injured, but still attached. His daughter had convinced doctors not to amputate it, even though he would have only limited use of the arm for the rest of his life.
“Boy I tell you, it was devastating. It messed me up, my mindset, you know,” Roebuck said recently.
The 69-year-old Hartwell resident held up his left arm to show the scars and the damage still visible from the accident. He wiggled his thumb and only slightly moved his index finger, also with visible damage.
“This wrist don’t bend, got a rod in it, and these two fingers are basically the only ones I have use of,” Roebuck said.
For the next five years he went through physical therapy to get his arm back in shape as much as possible. For the first two of those, he barely left the house. The thought of driving or going anywhere nearly caused a panic in him.
Roebuck had been a guitar player, lead guitar, and losing the full use of his left arm and wrist put an end to his playing days. That, combined with the fear he felt, put Roebuck in a dark place from which he was afraid at one point he may not recover. He even contemplated suicide, something he later revealed to his wife Paula.
“I just quit everything. I quit music.” Roebuck said.
It was about that time, on the urging of his wife and family, Roebuck went to see a psychiatrist.
“He said, ‘Mr. Roebuck, you’re going to go crazy if you don’t get out of that house,’” Roebuck said.
So slowly but surely, he began to venture out more and more and trying to find ways to bring himself out of depression. He began learning to play the keyboard, but was discouraged early because he could only do it with one hand.
“My pastor said to me, ‘Larry, people can play keys with no fingers. You can play with one hand,’” he said.
Getting back into music and venturing out of the house helped, but it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit spoke to him at a revival a few years after his accident that things turned around.
“My grandma raised me going to church,” Roebuck said. “If you stayed at her house, you were going to church. But I didn’t find God with her. I attended but didn’t pay attention. After that wreck, I found God.”
Or, more to the point, God found him. Roebuck didn’t understand why this bad thing had happened to him. He had been a decent guy, kept his nose clean and been good to people, why had God take nthe use of his left arm away from him?
“He said, ‘I let you keep it, but it was the only way I could get your attention,’” Roebuck said. “He got my attention.”
Roebuck was saved that day and has since been a faithful congregant at Hartwell Church of God of Prophecy. God washed the depression away and allowed Roebuck to get back to the life he wanted to live, one filled with the love of his two grown daughters and adult son, he said. One in which he could enjoy his time with Paula, his wife of more than 20 years now.
The epiphany also meant it was time to get back to work. Roebuck and work are no strangers. He has held numerous different jobs during his adult life, trying different things over the years including truck driving, factory work and warehouse work. He enjoys working on cars but never did it professionally. Roebuck, it seems, is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.
About a dozen years ago, he saw a now hiring sign at the Ingle’s grocery store that was under construction on Franklin Street in Hartwell. He still works there today.
“People say, ‘why don’t you retire,’ and I say, ‘and do what?’” Roebuck said. “Fish? Hunt? That ain’t for me.”
He said he plans to continue working at Ingle’s, where he has enjoyed the people and the pace. Roebuck said staying active and going to work everyday keeps him feeling young and keeps him happy, a far cry from the dark days he fought through 20 years ago.
“Most people don’t know, depression will kill you. I didn’t want to live. I thought, with this arm, I was paralyzed,” Roebuck said. “I tell anyone going through depression, get some help.”
He also said search for God, because without God, he doesn’t know what the outcome of his depression might have been.
“Find God,” Roebuck said. “God’s the secret. You can do all this other stuff, but that’s the only thing that really helped my life, was when I found God.”