Since his passing Wednesday, I've seen Facebook post after post listing condolences, reciting memories and in some instances....shock.....that this day came. I mean, how could it. It was Wayne's World. And now, it was no more.
If you ever had an opportunity to meet Wayne Blythe, you know what I mean. He was, in so many respects a "Pillar". A pillar to his friends, to his church, to his family and to his friends. And when I say friends, he had lots of them. Lots. Encountering Wayne was something you never forgot. There was no facade. He was an open book.
My first meeting with Wayne came during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in February of 2012. It was apparent Wayne had a special interest with the island and it's people. He connected, not so much through language...but with a smile, a wave and a hug. This was my first trip to the Dominican. I'm not really sure what number it was for him. Regardless, we spent many mornings sipping a cup of coffee together. We were the early risers in our group. That's where I got to know him and love him.
We'd talk about all sorts of things. I knew he had lost his grandson, Treye, several years ago. Wayne told me Treye had been murdered in Cedar Falls, Iowa just prior to entering his freshman year of college at the University of Northern Iowa. The trip we were on was an offshoot of that tragic event. Project 52, a non-profit organization, honoring Treye was formed. A gymnasium was built in Los Alcarrizos at the Lighthouse School in Treye's honor. Yes, this place was special to Wayne. He talked alot. I listened alot. I asked alot. And I choked back tears alot. The stories he told me about getting a phone call that Treye had been stabbed......having to endure the loss of his grandson.....how he had to tell his son Dustin, who was returning from a mission trip, that his son had been killed (via a phone call when his plane landed in Omaha) .....and the trial for Treye's murderer were so, so moving.
I could say that it was the loss of Treye that changed Wayne....that made him into a man wanting to give back more and serve more....making him more giving. more appreciative of life. But something tells me he had "his" style down, long before then.
As we tipped our cups each morning we talked about other things with our world. But most importantly, no matter where our conversations went, we always came back our God. "You know Wayne", I said. "My wife, Joane, talks about how fortunate we are to have been born where we were. And that out of all the possibilities where God could have placed us, he chose the United States, to be our home. How amazing is that? But how little do we appreciate it. And even more disturbing, is do we even stop to think about it".
Wayne looked at me with his little smirk and said, "you know John, I talk about that alot. And it's painful to see people with blank looks on their faces when I do. I've thought those same thoughts and said those same things. Wow". Those conversations, those memories gave me a peek into Wayne's World.....
When I heard of Wayne's death, I immediately placed myself at the picnic table outside the little kitchen in Los Alcarrizos. And I could recall one paragraph that has always stuck with me. One little nugget, so to speak. And it went like this. "No one is perfect. We should spend our days giving to others and not keeping score. That's so hard to do. We should try to reflect on all of the times in our lives that we are completely selfless. But it's hard to think of those times, isn't it?
|Wayne at work serving at Lighthouse Schools|
I've taken some words from the obituary via the Abels Funeral Home website for further information:
"Wayne Lee Blythe, 66, passed away on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at his home in Wellsburg while under Care Initiatives Hospice after a brave battle with cancer. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, December 13th at 10:00 AM at the AGWSR Middle School, 609 S. Monroe St., Wellsburg, Iowa. Visitation will be held on Friday, December 12th from 4 to 8 PM at the middle school and one hour prior to the service at the school. Burial will follow the funeral service at the Faith Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Ackley. Memorials may be made in Wayne's name to Project 52, P.O. Box 3681, Urbandale, Iowa 50323. He is survived by his loving wife, Joyce and two sons, Dustin and Vaughn".
Even though we say Goodbye to Wayne's World there could very well be something on the horizon. That is. Wayne. Waiting for those he MENTORED with that smile of his. And spreading his arms wide open for his HUG.
Isn't that out of this world?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”-Matthew 28:18-20