Mike Breiding's Epic Road Trips

Wayne Paul Breiding


Wayne Paul Breiding - Obituary by William, Sutton and Michael Breiding

WAYNE BREIDING (1954 - 2020)
By William Breiding
(Originally published in Portable Storage #5)

My brother Wayne had a trifecta of plagues that caused his life to become Tragic, with a capital T: a physically and emotionally violent childhood; poisoning by water hemlock; and severe osteoarthritis. While my entire family suffered at the hands of a violent and occasionally psychotic father it’s my opinion that Wayne was never able to fully pull out from under that damage. He suffered worse than any of us. Wayne’s poisoning from water hemlock when he was in his early teens (he thought he was a young Euell Gibbons while foraging in rural Marin County and uprooted what he thought was a wild carrot—it wasn’t) which caused him to become comatose and near-death and possibly (and I believe) have his brainchemicals permanently altered, and not in a good way, after his recovery. And then later in life he suffered from acute osteoarthritis in both legs.

We refer to some people as “lost souls” as if they were born that way. Wayne wasn’t born that way. He was shaped by these three events that eventually lead (and probably at a far younger age than any of us had realized—) to the final ingredient of this Tragedy: alcoholism as a form of coping. And that’s what he did for many years—he remained a functional but self-chosen isolated hillbilly. He was a brilliant man, something which was often occluded by his odd manner and backwoods disposition. He early on (while still in his teens) became a marijuana propagator of the highest order, and wrote a weekly column for the San Francisco Good Times newspaper on what drugs were available on the street and what was good and what was not. One can only guess where and how he came by this information. He signed his column “Stonegrower”. (See Sutton’s poem, and Michael’s photo.)

He was for years in correspondence with an international group of people who were experts on nut trees and their cultivation and propagation. He could rip apart an engine and put it back together. He had a demeanor and selfeffacing personality that created a sense of fondness and loyalty among his rural neighbors, bosses, landlords, store clerks, and doctors. Within his capacity he was a productive, interesting man. But as time went on he got stranger and sometimes difficult and his alcoholism got the better of him until he become effectively dysfunctional. His osteoarthritis left untended and unmedicated disabled him and caused severe pain. By the end he was medicating his soul and his body with alcohol and drinking himself to death in a trailer up under a sycamore tree. He finally died last year in a nursing home. He was afraid of death—being an ex-Catholic—and was uncertain what lay beyond. But finally he relaxed and let his heart stop. It was a savage relief for all of us who loved him because his suffering and Tragedy was a orrible crime, a crime for which I will never forgive my father. No one knows at all what lies out there beyond death but for me it is simply an ending, nothing. But for Wayne, I hope my mother’s hands guided him safely home. He deserves it. Rest In Peace, brother.

Wayne Paul Breiding - Photo by Michael Alfred Francis Breiding

Stonegrower’s Finest
what's left
blows, shocks
thefts and rifts
here and gone
not Catch You Later
but a box of ashes
for take-away
sign here please
but the pen is so heavy
O how the children glowed
with your flowering tops!
I am seized by
the fits and starts
of Time
that came when I
wasn't looking
where was I?
am I?
still not looking
I'll watch a spy movie, instead
I'll think about some old bones
rattling around with mine
I'll walk on, somehow
O how the children falter!
come on
let's go play hide and seek
out there in the woods
it's a secret snow day
Mom said so
(—G. Sutton Breiding)


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