In remembrance of award-winning author Wayne Tefs and in celebration of his posthumous memoir, Dead Man on a Bike, Wayne's friends and family responded to his last powerful work of nonfiction.
Read their reflections below.
"Growing up Catholic—not the TV guilt stereotype version, but the real action and example are more relevant and revealing than talk and terror version—I learned how to identify the real from the fake. Wayne was the real. He lived what he was in all aspects. Inspiring? There is no way on God's green earth that I would ever have taken up trekking, running and weights had it not been for his example in taking up cycling at his age (mine too if you will recall!). I was a committed sloth. But facing my minor ailments, I was inspired by how he faced his demon with courage and determination. I still proudly wear the "Not Dead Yet" hat when schlepping my backpack across Europe in search of the approbation of St James. Thanks Wayne. Waiting to join you one of these days."
"Visiting Winnipeg, over a bite and a visit at a now-gone café on Sherbrook St. (near what we still call the “Misericordia”), my longtime dear friend and college classmate told me “I have cancer”. Wayne was (among many qualities) forthright, honest. He also had a twinkle in his eye. I knew he was determined to fight this thing. “The longest-lived survivor is 18 years”, he said. I knew that gave him hope. He was a strong guy with a big heart. He carried on with purpose and accomplished much. It was a joy to witness. What was better? To hear he had written another fine novel, or to enjoy an emailed photo of Wayne and Kristen in bike gear toasting their daunting hill-riding with end-of-day wine somewhere in France? It was always a pleasure to be Wayne’s friend. Over the years, and two or three annual Winnipeg visits, we seemed to become better friends. Visits brought talk—families, the English studies we shared in a U of M ‘magical era’, the dramas of the day in arts, sports, politics—we just got talking on anything, as do longtime pals who enjoy each other’s company. Lately, at Ahmi’s, we would talk long past breakfast, then it was time for Wayne to head out on his bike to Headingley or somewhere. He seemed to thrive with the challenge to his health—though he would speak sadly of bad days. After many good years, his cancer news changed. On the phone at the end of summer, he said “Pete, I think this is it.” He left a great legacy. He was my buddy—and an inspiration."
"I finished Dead Man on a Bike yesterday morning in the glorious sunshine of my back yard. I loved every word of it. People who have not done cycling trips might appreciate it less than I did. People who have not experienced the effect of disease (and age) on athletic performance might also not relate as fully to it as I did. We have only been on 2 cycling vacations, one in Tuscany and one in Maryland. Both were fabulous, though. I kept a journal of the Italian holiday and never finished my one from Maryland. I could never capture the feel of the ride and travels of the mind the way Wayne has done. I related particularly to the thrill of both ascent and descent (a novelty for us flat-landers!), the feel of a hard ride on a hot day, the annoyance of discourteous and sometimes outright aggressive motorists (and half-ton drivers in particular), the pleasure of pasta and beer or wine after a hard day in the saddle and the almost endless will to test our limits in physical exercise. I felt like it was written for me."
"I never thought I could be an inspiration to others. Of course I understand what an inspiration can be: after Wayne passed away I sat in that overwhelmed cocktail of awe, sadness and pride as I absorbed the posts on Facebook from friends, family, former students, sharing with the world how Wayne inspired them to read, write, love the beauty of the literary arts, appreciate poetry. I’ve always known Wayne inspired people. Since the publication of DMB, I have again entered this headspace, only this time, within the context of cycling. Around the time Wayne was diagnosed with cancer, we took up cycling. We were, then, still learning to be a couple. I played field hockey and loved running; Wayne played ice hockey and loved the crisp glide of skating. We wanted to do something together, as a couple, something we could enjoy together. We discovered cycling. And in the excitement of that discovery, we shared with friends and colleagues (anyone who was willing to ask) our enthusiasm for this new shared mode of travel. I assumed people were being polite when they inquired about our trips to Europe, where we stayed, what we carried, how far we went each day. But in the months after Wayne’s death, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who’ve approached me to thank us, Wayne and me, for inspiring them to take a trip by bicycle. Short or long, in Canada, around the world, on mountain bikes, roadies, travelling together, as a couple, on their bikes. In Wayne’s words: “Cycling is a sport, like cross-country skiing, that we can do together. We tailor our riding to each other’s capabilities; though long stretches pass when there is little communication between us, we’re pulling in concert, pointing at sights along the road, sharing observations, stopping occasionally for photos; it’s a comfortable way for a couple to be together.” It is easier to bear the loss, knowing that we helped so many couples find their own shared experiences."