My maternal grandmother was one of the healthiest, most well-balanced people I have ever known. I understand that now, looking back over her life and reflecting on how she related, these twenty five years since her death. She never had a day of psychological therapy in her life, yet she applied the tools of self-care and relating to others as though she had spent years in analysis. She followed a healthy diet, took care of herself, worked hard, rested as needed. I rarely remember her being ill. She loved to serve people, but she was never a door-mat. Faithful companion to my grandfather,she would never abide chauvinism. My grandfather, strong and stern though he was, would never try to control her. She just seemed to make the important, necessary stuff look easy.
I am glad I had her as a model early on because it has helped me recognize "walking easy on the earth" in a few other folk. No one accomplished that better in my eyes than did Wayne Rogers.
We lost Wayne on July 11. Since then we have had a memorial service and a special recognition given to his gifts and presence during worship this past Sunday. A day hasn't passed when I haven't thought about him. I have tried to say that Wayne reflected "real" manhood. He was small in stature but huge in heart. His manliness came not through the flexing of his muscles but the expression of his character. I yearn for the world to have more such "real men."
He just made it look so damn easy. I'm sure it wasn't always. There had to have been those moments of struggle when he carried heavy loads or found himself caught between hard decisions. But still the humor was there, the words of encouragement, the inquiry about someone else's welfare, the mischievous twinkle in his eye, the offer to help, the demonstrated gift of compassion. I kept looking for the "other" Wayne to show up and he just never did.
On the Sunday morning after our daughter Lyndsay's wedding six years ago, Wayne caught me before worship and grabbed my arm with his strong left hand and said, "Son, remember, there is nothing more important than family." We both stood looking at each other and weeping. I have heard others throughout my life say something of the same thing, but it never made the imprint it did on that particular day when I was addressed by the "easy man."
James Kavanaugh wrote a beautiful piece years ago entitled "Some Few Walk Easy." Kavanaugh never knew Wayne Rogers. But a lot of the rest of us know exactly who he was talking about.