Thank You Wayne Cross

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Generous. Friendly. Helpful. Active. Lively. Humble.

My grandfather and I sat in his beat up '79 Ford truck.

"It just takes a bit" he said as he turned the key yet again and pumped the gas.

A few minutes later we were rumbling, backing out of the garage, and bouncing down some dirt road in Michigan.

Inevitably we'd see something in the back of a field. And inevitably we'd turn off the road, onto the field, and go see a Troy or a Mike. Some farmer who "is planting soybeans this year. They're coming in a little late, but it's not too bad. The rain this summer has been pretty good."

We'd pull up next to that Troy or that Mike and the farmer would take a break to chat.

Him and Wayne would talk about anything -- but mostly who they saw rolling down one of those dirt roads the other day. Or how the high school football, basketball, or wrestling teams were doing. Or what kind of deer, and how many points it was, a Bill or Sam got the other day.

I'd hear my grandfather laughing with the farmer, offering to chop up "that tree the storm blew down in your yard the other day," and then we'd be off again in the blue truck, looking for the next Troy or Mike.

He was my idol.

He never lost his humor -- even when I asked if we could make yet another wooden box.

We'd select the right type of wood, mark it with a pencil, then cut everything to size. Eventually we'd screw in the hinges and paint it.

"Here you go. Not sure what you're going to do with it!" and he'd hand me another box. For baseball cards, stamps, pocket knives, or handwritten notes from fellow 3rd graders.

He must have known everyone in a 25 mile radius. It seemed that way as he waved again, and again, from his blue truck. And it seemed that way at his funeral.

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Countless people told how he helped them, countless times. Bringing food from his garden or blackberries from out back.

As a member of the Greatest Generation, he survived the Great Depression... and always took care of his belongings and fixed them until it wasn't possible any longer. Hence the blue truck.

Most of all I'm grateful for Wayne's unconditonal love he gave to everyone he encountered. And his feisty playfulness.

Thank you Wayne for setting an example I'll continue trying to emulate.