There he was standing on stage. He played bass guitar and looked to be about 24 years old. His hair was thick, a deep dark brown, on the shaggy side that I’m sure my grandmother Pat would never approve of. This guy stood all of maybe five feet tall. As I sang to songs at church and worshipped, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.
I stared. And stared some more. He looked just like my uncle Wesley.
Wesley was the youngest of three boys. It seemed like my dad always kind of looked after him. Kind of the way Wesley always looked out for me.
One thing I knew for sure was that Wesley loved me.
As I think back on our relationship now, when I was five and six, I think I was the apple of Wesley’s eye. We played together and hung out, always.
Wesley’s life was cut short. At age 18 he was in a fatal car accident outside of our town. I remember the night that the call came and my dad left the house in the wee hours to go and deliver the news to our family.
Wesley worked in the oil fields working late nights on the rigs, the life of a roughneck. In his short life, he struggled with his size. As an adolescent, he had a hormone deficiency that stunted his growth, his height particularly. I know he grappled with his size all throughout school. And I can only imagine how he may have been ostracized in high school.
Upon his untimely death, my grandmother Pat was never the same. I can’t imagine her pain. Her loss. Wesley lived with her until his passing.
My eyes continued to be fixed on this guy on the stage. My thoughts began to wonder about Wesley. Would he be a guitar player? What if this was him? Would he be a churchgoer, would he know Jesus? Would he be married and have kids? What kinds of things would he love? Who would Wesley be if he were still alive?
My thoughts ran wild until the signing was over and he left the stage. My eyes followed him as he walked out of my view.
I was left with my sweet memories of my uncle Wesley. The image of this photo burned in mind.
Wesley loved me. And I knew it.