Subj: Message from Dr. Ron Daniels -- Re: Wayne C. Thompson -- Our Newest Ancestor
Brothers and Sisters -- Comrades All:
I write with a very heavy heart to inform you that Wayne C. Thompson, my dear friend, comrade, partner and one of the most selfless, committed, indefatigable and effective freedom fighters I have ever known, is our newest Ancestor, having transitioned this afternoon, reportedly from a massive heart attack.
For months Wayne had quietly been struggling with a series of ailments, the source of which the doctors were unable to determine. Wayne chose to battle these maladies privately with only a small circle of confidants knowing the severity of his illness. This is the way he wanted it -- no pity, no complaints, no regrets, just a solitary and introspective struggle to understand the meaning of his affliction and a determination to achieve a quality of life worth living.
I am in such pain as I pen these words because he meant so much me and all of us. He absolutely became my closest partner/comrade/brother and friend in the struggle -- Oh how I/we missed his passion, energy and selfless service at the recent State of the Black World Conference -- showing up with the "troops" to make certain that everything was in order.
When he was at his energetic best, we would talk at least once a day. But in recent weeks, as he grappled with his illness, I tried to give him space to breath and recover. I also encouraged him to open up to share with his extended circle of loving friends as a part of the healing process. But this was not his nature. Essentially he sought not to burden others and to carry the load on his own terms.
And what a load he had carried. Wayne was the rock for so many in his life -- In the past few years he witnessed the lost of two of his closest partners, John Bowman and Opio Toure. And he worked tirelessly on the case of the San Francisco 8 -- his comrades in struggle with the Black Panther Party from back in the day. Oklahoma Health Care Project, All of Us or None, Cherokee Freedmen, Institute of the Black World 21st Century, Haiti Support Project, business pursuits that span the globe. People marvel at my work ethic but it pales in comparison to Wayne, who I affectionately dubbed Energizer #1, readily acknowledging my status as # 2. But perhaps the grief and burden became too much for his mind and body to bear.
Having not spoken to him in a while, and missing him so much, I decided last week that I would just fly out to Oklahoma City to embrace and touch voices with my beloved brother. We had a wonderful time together. He really didn't look sick and I told him so. He gave me a bear hug of a warm embrace. It felt so good! But he was clearly struggling with diminished stamina and frustration over the lack of knowledge about the mysterious disease that was attacking his body. A myriad of tests had revealed little, and as much as anything, not knowing the nature of villain that was violating his being was intensely frustrating. Not knowing was agonizing.
We went out a broke some bread together. It was his call. I was perfectly content to just sit and chat about whatever he wanted to discuss -- No business, no movement, just brothers chatting man to man. But he wanted to go out to eat, so we did. Just climbing a few steps, he said, was a chore. But we enjoyed the meal and the fellowship. Then it was back to his apartment where he seemed determined to discuss a range of issues that mattered to him including our work in Haiti, how to create an economic base for IBW, the Cherokee Freedmen case, San Francisco 8, freeing political prisoners, passing the torch to young people including Sandino and his circle of comrades.
He struggled to get the words out but was determined to update/brief me on the things that made life meaningful and worthwhile. There was a certain vitality in his voice and spirit even as he struggled to speak. Making a difference mattered. It was what he lived for -- and being able to contribute in a meaningful way is what made life worth living.
Perhaps we could have gone on into the night but I wanted my brother to rest, to breath his oxygen and get a good night's rest for a change [he had not been sleeping well]. So we embraced -- another strong and warm embrace and he walked me to the door. As we pulled out of the garage, he lingered in the doorway, his silhouette standing out against the darkness -- He waved goodbye as we pulled off and I waved back and gave him a thumbs up. That was my final and lasting image of Wayne, standing in that doorway bidding me adieu.
The next morning, Sunday morning, as I was about to board my plane to Dallas en route back to New York, my cell phone vibrated and the number was his -- I was so happy. He said, that he just called to say how much my visit meant to him and promised to be less reclusive in the days ahead. Indeed, we had planned to get together in Boston on his next visit to his preferred cardiologist -- which was to be a matter of days.
This morning I prayed so hard that God and the Ancestors would keep Wayne with us -- I prayed so hard. Tonight just shortly after completing and interview on the Bev Smith Show -- I received the word that our valiant African warrior had joined the Ancestors. I have been in tears all evening, straining to compose myself in the face of this unbelievable loss.
But compose ourselves we must. For Wayne would not have us grieve so much. At one point in our conversation, he looked me straight in the eye and said, "I'm not afraid of this." He was prepared to face death satisfied that he had lived a life that mattered. I shall never forget those words, the warm embrace and that image of him in the doorway as he bid me farewell.
In the next Libation we our duty bound to shout out the name of Wayne C. Thompson, along with Damu Smith, John Bowman and Opio Toure -- but more than just uttering ashe, it is our duty, our sacred responsibility to live lives that matter as we continue to struggle for the liberation of African people and oppressed humanity. This is how we will preserve the memory of Wayne C. Thompson and give flesh to the vision and spirit of this remarkable human being!
A luta continua