This story is about a man whom I shared three years of life, until his death on April 23rd 2014. I learn valuable lessons with his life and passing—to realize that life is just as spectrum of possibilities between good and no so good experiences. We born, we grow, we learn and when everything is in place in accordance with our life plan, then we die—to move on to another realm or perhaps another life.
Here is the story of us…
Our story begin in the spring of 2011, Wayne was an US Navy veteran who after several stumbles through his life, he arrived on March 11, to the Veteran Assistance Program of Union Grove for Homeless Veterans—with the hope to find relief for his pains and get his life back. As an US Army veteran myself, I arrived to the same place on April 17th, and after grieving my own personal lost, I met Wayne on April 23, 2011.
He came to my dining table and presented himself, “Hi, My name is Wayne, glad to meet you”. I looked at him and thought that this is just another crazy gringo of the facility, but I shook his hand and from there a great friendship started that turn later on in the most amazing love story experienced by both of us. We worked together at this center helping other homeless veterans like us. We did everything together from cooking, travel, going to festivals, theaters, but the most thing we enjoyed, was fishing.
We were so different in many ways: He was Navy, I was Army, he was from USA and I am from Puerto Rico. He was a rebel against the law while I was a Law Enforcement officer in Mississippi.
However, the strong bond among us, was the experience to lose everything and everyone important in our lives—becoming homeless.
Wayne was a happy goer that seems like anything didn’t worry him, despite that all his sorrows were eating him inside. He was the kind of human being that went the extra mile for anyone in need, despite not having money or health to complete the task. He was always joking even when at times, he was the only one laughing. He was never in self-pity and often he didn’t allow his past, to put him down. He lived every minute of his life like it was his last—nothing can’t wait for tomorrow, he had to do it today. Little by little this crazy gringo, took my heart and soul when we fall in love.
That amazing day was a 4 of July of 2011, we were at the Eagle Lake of Racine County—fishing. We sat there for a while waiting for the fish to bite. When we started to share our lives stories and what brought us to be homeless. We noticed that among all the difference between us, we were just human beings that made mayor mistakes and dearly paid for it. That day, we cried together while laced in each other arms and then we kiss for the first time. I knew then, that I just met my soul mate.
It’s ironic—about our lives path, how different but the same. During our military careers, we were in the same places—but we missed each other, either by a couple of months or a year. Often we recall on this and agreed that we might not like each other if we were met then, as much as we did through the last 3 years of our lives together.
When I was down, he was always trying to cheer me up—he used to sing me the song “You are my sunshine and my only sunshine, you made me happy when times are grey” For Wayne, no matter the hardships, he was always optimistic and resourceful—what he couldn't get, he will build it, that was sure—he was a handy man against the odds.
As homeless, we raised each other from the ground up, we were proactive and driven to get our lives back or better for what they were and we accomplished that with love. I helped him through all his health problems. In two occasions, he was close to death—first with a busted appendicitis on November 2011, then he spend 14 days in the hospital, from which he was in ICU for 7 days on August 2012, where he was experiencing all the emotions he can hold with double pneumonia and first stages of COPD. Wayne was not the healthiest guy, with a broken back and many health issues—but to me, he was a perfect man. We always looked beyond what we lack, to see-- just our souls.
We did everything together, and when apart—we couldn't wait to be with each other again. We spoiled rotten each other—he was a great cook, while I kept buying him Coke and tools and taking care of his body pains. He was the kind of man that kept my house clean and supper ready at the end of my work day. He knew the time I was arriving and he always was at the door to give me a kiss, saying “Hi Babe, I missed you—get ready I have a great supper for you”. By the time I changed my work clothes, he served my dinner first then his—we end our day, watching TV while talking about everything and doing plans for the next day. He was very romantic and loving with me—always giving his heart and soul on everything we do together. We loved to go to thrift stores where we bought damage goods and restore to new. We went fishing every time we could—gosh we got so many fun days and stories from those fishing days. Nether less to say, at times we didn't get any fish, but Wayne was able to find things in the road that we end up taking with us.
Wayne was indeed a lucky man in many ways, even when finding stuffs on the roads. He even found money at 45 miles per hour. That day I was driving him into Racine, when he begged me to turn around because he saw something—I pleased him despite I was complaining about it and sure enough he spot a $20 dollar bill. That event to Wayne, was like he won the lotto—nevertheless to say that we end up going to the movies for free, Thanks to the extraordinary eye sight of Wayne. Other than fishing, Wayne loved to play mechanic with his car and everyone’s cars—pretty often he shine through it.
One time, we both were tasked to go to a Catholic elementary school to give a
speech about our military lives. Wayne was nervous and anxious about it. I was worry about how he will direct himself to these kids, since Wayne can say crazy stuffs at times. I bought him clothes and shoes for this event, went online and got him Navy pictures for our power point presentation. All I told him was, “talk about what you know and let it flow—but please don’t embarrassed me”. I was sweating bullets as he approached to face the class room. However, Wayne not only impressed those kids but really surprised me with his calm collected speech and his Navy knowledge. He indeed was a jack of all trades.
His driven desire was to become healthy and stop drinking and smoking—which he accomplished it. He stopped drinking for the last 3 years of his life and stopped smoking since August 2012. He even went to college for two semester to obtain a degree in CAD design—that he couldn’t finish due to his health.
He did everything, always thinking about his two sons, for which he lived in regrets for let them down and unable to stand for them—he only wanted for them to feel proud of him. I helped him to get his social security benefits for him to accomplish getting his life back. His ultimate goal was to get his sons back in his life—to give them a good life with the best he could, with true love. He loved those kids so dearly—he was trying to do the impossible to get them back. I supported him all the way—despite I knew deep inside me, he will not be successful in this task. I helped him to get an apartment and did my best to furnished it—I did it, for him to have a good start and to stop being homeless as he was from 2006.
While all this, in the past 3 years of his life, I was there in his every moments of laughter, his joys and sorrows. His last two weeks were not the greatest—starting with April 14th 2014 when he lost his sons for the second time. I came from work to found Wayne crying for his kids—while going through all the human emotions you can think of. I told him, not to worry that life goes on, that at least his kids knows that he tried.
I raised him again through the fun stuffs we used to do and he was content but sad. Two days before his death, he was not doing well health wise, he was consuming by his back pain. I nurtured him the best I could and took care of him. On April 23, 2014 I woke up as usual to head out to work. He got up and asked me if I wanted for him to make me breakfast for which I told him “No honey, go back to bed and rest—take it ease today”. At the moment of leaving, I brushed his hair, caressed his face and gave him a sweet kiss on his lips—telling him “I love you babe, see ya’ when I return home”—he responded “I love you too, you have a great day, see ya’ later”.
I wanted to call sick that day, but went to work. All day, I felt wrong—despite my discontent with the job with its daily driving from Burlington to Milwaukee. Last time I talked on the phone with Wayne was during my lunch at 11:00 am. He talked to neighbors, friends and the landlord before he decided to work on his car around 3:00 pm for what I was told. I arrived home around 6:45 pm, when I got into the parking I saw him under his car—I thought he was working under it, so I parked my car someplace else. Came down to him and told him to stop working on his car but he didn't respond. That is when I noticed something was terribly wrong. I panic, tried to raise the car off him but couldn't, I screamed my heart out in that parking lot asking for help but no one heard me. I called the police which they responded quickly but it was too late, Wayne was gone for a long while before my arrival for what I was told by police.
None of you, have any idea what I felt that day of his death—I saw my whole world crushed under that car realizing that I lost my soul mate. Wayne to me was everything, he was my home to come to, the love of my life, my best friend—the human being that truly tough me what love is really about. How ironic life can be, we born and we lived through life with its ups and downs, living every possible human experience we can have, good or bad—without realizing that can be gone in a split second. With him gone, life for me will not be the same ever again. The 3 years that we spend together to us was like 20, but something I can say—Wayne was loved and happy in his end days, despite of the life turns that tried to keep him down in every turn. He might be gone physically but I know he is everywhere in spirit—with no more pain and sorrows.
The ceremony was short and sweet, but with all the respect that Wayne deserved as a US Navy Veteran. The gathering was of family and close friends, as well few of us that share time with Wayne while being homeless at the Veteran’s Transition housing of Union Grove. During the sound of taps and salute, myself and all the veterans friends of Wayne, stand up to salute Wayne as the gun salute took place.
The American Flag was fold over the remaining of Wayne, with the respect and silence particular of these ceremonies.
The American Flag was given to Wayne’s mother. Who I saw placing the flag over her chest as the Navy Officer was saluting for the last time.
After all this, Wayne’s ashes were carry by US Navy personnel, while Wayne’s parents walk in front of them. Wayne’s resting place is the Veterans Home Cemetery of Union Grove Wisconsin. He is at the wall facing the street and behind the flags, Grave no. 2-C
I am telling the story of this man, that I had the privilege to know him and being with him in the most loving relationship we ever have. not because he tough me life lessons in a short time of 3 years, but because his memory, his smile and unique personality I wanted to be on this page for years to come—hoping his sons will be able to see and cherish it, as I do today.
My dear Wayne, you became a blessing in my life they day I met you and I glad that I helped you and gave you and myself the best 3 years of our lives.
To you Wayne, My love Happy Birthday!….. I will always love you. Liz Figueroa
In loving memory of Wayne Kelly Lecus Sr
Born May 25 1963
Died April 23 2014
#waynelecus, #wayneklecus, #wayneklecussr,