Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Legendary Songwriter, Don Wayne, Passes Away at Age 78

So many people touch our lives in unexpected ways, never knowing the impact they have, or what they leave behind in other hearts when they leave this world.  Don Wayne was one of those people for me, and will always hold a special place in my heart.  He departed this earth at the age of 78, after losing a battle with cancer.

It was around 1990 and my family had made an unexpected move to Rose Hill Mississippi.  We had bought a house that was incomplete, and began working on it in our spare time, when my husband was home from his offshore job.

For various reasons we had to move into the house in it's unfinished state, requiring me to leave behind my job, my church, and the wonderful friends we had made in Bay Springs, MS.  My oldest son, David, was in the second grade, and my baby, Jason, was still in training pants.

The strain of my working full time,two kids, baseball games, and a husband that worked offshore,were putting too big of a strain on my marriage, because we barely had any time together as it was, and now with my job so far away, it required a sacrifice on my part, so I let it go.

School was in Enterprise, a good 45 minutes from Rose Hill, and my job was in Bay Springs, 45 minutes in the opposite direction. I also knew that something was up in my marriage.  A woman can't always put her finger on it, but a sixth-sense tells you when something is not right, and my sixth-sense was working overtime.

We worked on our house little by little, looking forward to the day we could get moved into the master bedroom, and have our own bathroom separate from the kids.  However, an uneasy feeling kept nagging at me, and the reason became clear when my husband came in from work and told me he "needed some time to think'.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what that meant,and although he denied it, I knew he was having an affair.

He was tormented by an old unresolved relationship with an ex-wife, and I had the pleasure of walking through it with him.  One day he said he loved me, and the next he would leave, and disappear for weeks, leaving me to wonder where he was, till one day, through an unexpected source, I found out he was leaving me to marry her, and although I suspected an affair, it still hit me like a ton of bricks.

She lived in Delaware so there wasn't even a woman I could confront, although I did find some pictures of her, and I politely burned them (and I must say that gave me immense satisfaction). All I had to hold onto was a tape from my church, so I listened to it everyday, and prayed for his return.

My world was falling to pieces, I had lost a tremendous amount of weight, no job, no friends around, no family, just me, the kids, and a house that seemed to be falling down around me.  One day while I was lying on the couch in the living room, in a rain storm, the roof started leaking a steady drip, drip, drip, on my coffee table.  Hence, my first lyrics to a song came pouring out, and my tears began to dry a little.  I had found an outlet for my pain.

 "She's got you, and I've got a roof that leaks, was the first song I had tried to seriously write, quickly followed by one called, "Now I Feel Like a Sparrow, With a Broken Wing". I had found a new distraction and a new passion, and decided I wanted to be a songwriter.

About that time it was announced that Don Wayne and Hal Bynum would be holding a songwriting seminar in Meridian, MS.  I took that as a sign from God, and attended the seminar, where Don and Hal introduced the crowd to such great songs as Don's, "Hello Country Bumpkin', Saginaw Michigan, and Bynum's Kenny Roger's hit,  "Lucille". I met some great friends at that seminar, and learned about Nashville Songwriters Association International.

I continued to pray for my husband, and in my gut, I knew he would return when spring came around, and he did.   Even though we ended up not working out, we made it through those tough times, and moved on to a much bigger, nicer house in Montrose, Mississippi, and my husband supported me in my new found passion for writing songs.

Don Wayne, inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1978, continued to be a source of hope, inspiration and encouragement when I moved to Nashville.
I've been lucky enough to write with some great writers, make some lifelong, wonderful friends, in the music business, and like Hugh Prestwood, (The Song Remembers When, There's a Ghost in This House, and That Boy's Just a Walk-a-way Joe", I've discovered the most happiness is found in simply writing the song"

I may never have a hit or never see my name on CMT, but Don Wayne and Hal Bynum gave me something I was in desperate need of.......Hope.  They brought a dying soul back to life, by sharing the gift of songwriting with me, and for that, and for them, I will be eternally grateful.

Heaven may have gained a "Country Bumpkin'", but earth lost an angel.  Rest in Peace Don Wayne.  For your passion, your kindness, your faithfulness to your life long partner, and the gift of hope you have given so many aspiring songwriters over the years, your legacy will live on in the hearts of those you left behind.

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