Family Members Wait, Not Knowing Brother's Fate
Posted September 1, 2005
FOUR OAKS, N.C. — It's a waiting game that's almost too much to bear as a Johnston County family struggles to know the fate of their loved ones in Louisiana.
Stephanie Robinson is worried sick about her brother, Richard Gather, and his family, who live in La Place, about 30 miles west of New Orleans.
"He would have tried to get his family to safety," Robinson said.
Richard Gather's family looks for his image on television. They wait for the phone to ring.
"We are the only family he has, and we are here and don't know what has happened to him," said sister Janice Body.
One of eight siblings, family members describe Richard Gather as "the responsible one" who would have calmed their fears and called.
They want to stay positive as they hope and pray that he will call. They want to go find him, but know they cannot get into New Orleans by plane or by car.
"I feel like I'm supposed to be the strongest one, but I'm weak when it comes on family," said the Rev. James Gather, a pastor at Total Praise Ministries in Smithfield."
He says he is relying on his faith to help him and his brother in Louisiana through. He says he feels helpless.
"We feel like he needs us and we can't do anything about it," Rev. Gather said.
Richard Gather is married with three children. He also has two young grandchildren -- all in Louisiana. The family recently had a lot to celebrate. Just two months ago, Richard Gather's wife donated a kidney to their 24-year-old son. They are both on the road to recovery.
Despite the distance between Four Oaks and La Place, the family gathers together several times a year. They do not want those cherished reunions to wash away.
As they look at a family photo of all eight brothers and sisters smiling together, family members say they are optimistic, as they look at their brother.
"When I look at that smile, I want to see it," said Rev. Gather.