Welcome Home, Wayne!

Whether living in the country or owning a home in town, neighbors make all the difference.  We have been blessed in this neighborhood with great folks.  They freely let my kids pet their ponies, check on their chickens, and feed a lamb with a baby bottle.  3 different specifies at 3 different hobby farms.  We try to reciprocate with some big things (using our big machinery for getting a neighbor who suffered a stroke to the hospital in a blizzard) and some small things (just today I called to let my neighbor know some Jehovah’s Witnesses were about to knock on her door — that’s what neighbors are for!).

Yet up until 2 weeks ago, our neighborhood had a shadow hanging over it.  Our sheep farmer neighbor, Wayne Klumper, was not around.  He had been in a terrible motorcycle accident in June and was fighting for his life in Sioux Falls, an hour away.

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One of the area sheep farmers who pitched in to help was Don Basche. The reason I have this photo is he also helped me in a pinch: I needed a “Roast Beast” to complete our Who Feast Christmas tradition. We ate antelope steaks.

His family kept the entire community up-to-date with Caring Bridge posts.   People stepped up to the plate to do his daily sheep chores, and a host of other things to keep the farm running.  Hundreds bought T-shirts that showed their support with the word “HEALS”.  People just kept praying for a miracle.  I would not have been surprised if my 2-year-old’s first sentence was, “Please heal Wayne Klumper, Amen!”.

My favorite story of Wayne Klumper dates back nearly 8 years ago when I was 7 months pregnant with Vince.  There had been a storm overnight on Saturday and we had planned to attend a baptism in the Cities on Sunday morning.  We woke up to discover HEIFERS EVERYWHERE (your blood pressure just skyrocketed if you are a dairy farmer) and it is an extra concern because we live within a mile of US Highway 60.  Wayne, from his residence right on Highway 60, spotted us in distress and came to help.  He was very insistent that I had no business running around and I ought to drive his 4-wheeler while he guided heifers on foot.  This just speaks to the kind of man he is:  kind, thoughtful, compassionate, giving.

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This a picture of our neighbor’s yard right across the road. Wayne keeps a dozen sheep here every summer and typically comes to supplement with corn every night when the pasture can’t keep up with the sheep. We are patiently waiting for when Wayne travels down this drive again!

Wayne’s healing is nothing short of a miracle.  Weeks passed with no evidence that a recovery was in sight.  Even when he began to make progress and pull out of his coma, everybody was hesitant to be overly optimistic.  As he began therapy, he endured many setbacks, but pushed his way through and simply wowed the doctors and therapists.  In the end, it just comes down to the fact that the Lord has work for Wayne left to do on this Earth.

Every single night that Wayne was in the hospital, his wife, Dea, was right there with him.  As we would drive home at night from trips to the YMCA (where Wayne served as program coordinator for years and years) pool or Pee-Wee Baseball game, the kids and I would look over at their farm.  It was always the same….dark.  Never a light on in the house.  A somber reminder that Wayne was fighting for his life in a hospital far away.

Now, when we drive by, the lights are ALWAYS on.  Klumpers are back in the neighborhood!  It makes me smile EVERY time.  Perhaps I should buy them a gift certificate to the Electric Cooperative.  Welcome home, Wayne!

To see a video of Wayne walking out of the hospital after his 2.5 month stay, click here.

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