Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wayne "The Cajun" Juneau

Wayne Juneau at Dos Locos Restaurant, Rehoboth Beach - The Host with the Most

Occasionally I feature friends, relatives and former co-workers who are no longer in my life on this very personal blog of mine.

Today, on this quiet, sunny, cold and windy Sunday I am posting about my friend Wayne "The Cajun" Juneau.  

Wayne departed from this life January 17, 2015 after a long illness. He died alone in a hospice in Milford, Delaware.

I met Wayne around 2005.  I was introduced to him by my longtime (and now departed) friend Bob McCamley.

Bob McCamley and Wayne at Kahlasa Jewelry store (where Wayne used to work before Dos Locos) 7-23-2009

At that time Wayne was in a long term relationship with Tom. Both Wayne and Tom moved to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware from their home in New Jersey some years previously.

I was looking for a home to move to for my retirement in the Rehoboth Beach area. Bob thought I would be interested in seeing Wayne and Tom's home.  One Saturday morning Bob took me over to Wayne and Tom's home in Rehoboth Beach. I liked their home's open floor plan.  I also liked Wayne and Tom.  

Wayne hosting a party at his and Tom's home on Old Landing Road - Wayne was the perfect host

Wayne's personality is what I would call a "Paul Lynde" personality. Very clever with the wisecracks and putdowns but done lovingly (at least I would like to think so).  I always enjoyed my time with Wayne.  

Wayne and me at the Purple Parrot restaurant in Rehoboth Beach - we used to meet there every Sunday night with friends - always good times - never forgotten

Then came a time when Wayne and Tom broke up. Tom found someone else new and left Wayne after a 34 year relationship. Of course as is usual in these circumstances almost everyone knew Tom was on the prowl except Wayne. Wayne was the last to know, which upset him greatly and he became very bitter. 

Their breakup was messy. I helped Wayne move out of their home. In the rain yet (wet mattress). 

Wayne and Violet at the Purple Parrot - oh how I miss those good times

Wayne got a room at another gay man's place. That didn't work out well and Wayne had to move again, this time to an apartment in Rehoboth Beach by himself. No more sharing homes for Wayne after his bad experience (it was also messy).  I helped Wayne move again, this time up three flights of stairs and you know I don't "do" stairs.

Wayne had to get a job to support himself which isn't the easiest thing to do when you're gay and of a certain age (over sixty).  I suggested a local hotel who was advertising for a front desk agent. Wayne applied and they wouldn't even talk to him.  Hey, I applied to SEVEN hotels when I first moved to Delaware and I couldn't even get an interview even though I had YEARS of experience and a Best Guest Service Award from the Hampton Inn. The job opportunities for older gay men is severely limited. 

With friends at the Purple Parrot restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

However, Wayne saw an ad for a host at the Dos Locos restaurant which was a block away from that stupid hotel which wouldn't even talk to him. Wayne got the job the same way I got my hotel job, a gay man saw my value even though I was an older gay man, and hired him the same way a gay man hired me.  

Wayne's job as a host at the Dos Locos was the perfect fit for him and the Dos Locos restaurant. 

Wayne worked there for several years and then his health began to fail. I do not know the exact nature of his illness (some kind of blood disorder) but Wayne became weaker and weaker. 

He had several different procedures, was put on a special diet and had several hospital stays. 

Then came a time when the hospital could do no more for him. Wayne wanted out of the hospital but had no place to go. His only family was a sister in New Orleans, Wayne's place of birth. She was also in poor to failing health. 

Wayne never asked me directly but I sensed that he would have appreciated if I took him in our home. But this is something I couldn't do.  First I am already a caretaker of Bill, my parter and husband of now fifty-three years (he's 89 years old now).  Secondly I just can't handle the stress. I can barely take care of myself and Bill let alone someone else. Of course I have always felt guilty that I didn't take Wayne in and feel guilty to this day. One thing that was good though was the manager of the restaurant where Wayne worked took care of all of Wayne's needs while he was in the hospital and when he was moved to the hospice.  I don't write about this folks seeking to assuage my guilt but just to tell you how it was at the end of Wayne's life. 

The last time I saw him he was not happy with me. But then he was very ill and I can understand. His last blog posting (which I had encouraged him to write a blog as therapy when Tom broke up with him) was a direct stab at me.  Something I wouldn't have done had I been in that situation but again, he was very ill and disappointed in life. He always said he didn't want to "relive the past" probably because of his bad memories and his failed relationship with Tom. I also think he wanted more than a friendship with me (one unexpected kiss on the lips when I dropped him off one night after a dinner we had with friends clued me into that fact.)  When I repulsed the kiss he said "I can't figure you out."  I replied "We're friends Wayne, no more than that. Can't we be gay and be just friends?"  Not to be full of myself but this isn't the first time I've encountered this problem with gay friends, you're friends and some of them take it the wrong way.  That's life when you're as damn attractive as I am (I'm kidding of course). 

Wayne and me at Old Time Photo in Rehoboth Beach

But I don't want to dwell on the negative but rather remember all the good times that we had during our ten year friendship.  But something strange happened the  day after Wayne died. I slipped and fell on the ice while leaving work at the hotel and tore my quadricep muscle on my left leg.  After an operation to tie the muscle back together, I was an invalid for twelve weeks while the leg tissue had to regenerate itself. I always suspected Wayne pushed me that cold and windy night as I rounding the corner from the hotel to get to my car.  Coincidence?  Maybe, maybe not. But I prefer to remember the good times. 

Me and Wayne at the Henlopen Oyster House in Rehoboth Beach, our last meal together - Wayne  health was deteriorating 

This Thanksgiving I remember good friends like Wayne. Below is from the memory card that was distributed at Wayne's memorial service.  It is perfect for Wayne's memory:


I'd like the memory of me
to be a happy one,
I'd like to lave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I'd like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing times
and bright and sunny days.
I'd like the tears of those who grieve,
to dry before the sun of happy memories
that I leave behind when day is done.
Helen Lowrie Marshall

Thank you Wayne for all the wonderful memories - the way I will always remember you - laughing at life


Raybeard said...

I only got to know Wayne through his blogs in the last couple years of his life, and have occasionally, though genuinely, thought about him since. Of course I only got to make his acquaintanceship (if it can even be called that) when he was suffering and seriously deteriorating, but he was always kind enough to respond to my comments and he did express some curiosity about me. I recall seeing a picture he posted of himself in his 30s, I think, looking hellishly attractive with black beard - and I told him that I would have lusted after him, especially if I'd seen him in a bar in leathers, which would have suited him so well. I think that pleased him, at least I hope so. This short film featuring him and Pat is the only time I've seen him in in moving pictures, and it helps to make him a more rounded presence in the memory of my brief, too brief, contact with him. Thanks Ron.

Bea said...

A fond remembrance of your friend, Wayne. I, personally, would absolutely hire anyone with a 'Paul Lynde' personality. I adored Paul Lynde.

Ron said...

Wayne was quite the character. I valued our friendship. He was so much fun. I miss him.

Ron said...

I too adored Paul Lynde. And Wayne was just as good. I miss him.

Ur-spo said...

You were a good friend to him
I was honored to have known him
I still think of him whenever I don my shirt or have a martini - I smell olives!

"Tommy" said...

Wayne and I corresponded off and on, his blog is still listed on my blog. I never meet Wayne, but we did comment on each other's blog postings. Since we were from the same state, his comments reminded me of someone who was "raised up" on the Acadiana Culture... that South Louisiana ... frankness with a smile culture.... Thanks for posting and remembering Wayne.

WARPed said...

Thanks for the touching memories and stories about Wayne, Ron.

But they don't really make me feel less fearful of growing old.



pat888 said...

Ron - it's hard losing friends as they are often closer than family. You've been blessed with many good friends over the years I believe. I've met a few down in your neck of the woods and I've always found them to be stand up guys. And you've got great friends on your blog - that's for sure.