Rest in peace, sweet Wayne, my Grandpa from God

It’s been almost three years now since I first stumbled into Victory Lutheran Church. Wayne, when I first met you, I must admit, your group frightened me a bit. I wasn’t used to being around folks with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and a variety of brain injuries, so you all seemed like an odd bunch of coconuts to me initially! But between your daily laps around the sanctuary in your wheelchair and stopping in the office to tell me the daily news, it was clear from the get go we were going to be buddies. You showed me how to grow everything from cucumbers to upside down tomatoes. My daughter would come and steal cherry tomatoes from your plants, but I would tell you, and you loved that she did that. You were our tomato hook up. I used to watch you from the 2nd story window and see you work tirelessly with your one strong arm, from painting to watering the garden to weeding. One hot July day I brought you a glass of Gatorade, and you were upset it was Gatorade! I told you it was good for you and you grumbled a little but eventually I got a cute little smile and a twinkle of those big blue eyes.

When I first started working there, and I had found out you had a green thumb, I snuck down a plant that was in my office, put it with YOUR plants, and wrote a note saying, “Hi Wayne, please take care of me.” Thank you for doing that.

Thanks to you I also got to try kale for the first time, fresh from the garden, and LOVED it. Payback, as you know, was harsh, as Pastor and I made you try sauerkraut. NO ONE lives as long as you and escapes sauerkraut!!! It was so funny that while he and I were bickering about who was gonna make you eat it, we heard you say, “hey, this is pretty good!” (I missed the moment!!!)

The day came when I had to leave that job, and no one has ever given me a gift so wonderful as your gift from the garden. No gift of gold or silver could have had more value than that precious gift from the heart. And when you came and said goodbye to me, and you said “don’t be a stranger” with big teary blue eyes, and I kissed your cheek… you rolled away in your wheel chair and I stood in my office and cried for 10 minutes.

Now, I drive to my new office, in a tomato red car that I named Wayne in honor of my heart-adopted Grandpa, who passed away on Sunday. Some days I long to hear the piano music play, and see my beloved friends walk and sing.

Wayne, I miss you.

“Home free, eventually
at the ultimate healing
we will be home free”

W. Watson

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