Mr. Hot Wheels

Mr. Hot Wheels

My way of mourning the loss of a guy who meant a lot more to me than I ever realized…

My cousin Wayne was an amazing artist, father, and friend. I first remember meeting Wayne when I was in Kindergarten or 1st grade and I thought he was the coolest guy I’d ever met. I remembering thinking he was cool because he was a Hot Wheels designer in the City of Angels and he was willing to spend time with me, even when I was just a little kid.

Last weekend, Wayne passed away. So, I spent my weekend in Durham, NC, where Wayne grew up and has lived since 2011, at his service and just spending time with family honoring Wayne’s life. I learned so much about my dear cousin and was reminded of how great of a person he was by friends and family who shared their memories of him.

There was a friend of his, also a father of a daughter, who spoke about him and talked about how great of a father and friend he thought Wayne was. Later that afternoon, he went over to my great aunt and uncle’s home and he spoke about a coffee shop called Cocoa Cinnamon. He talked about Cocoa Cinnamon and said that it was one of the places that he and my cousin often spent time in together. He talked about how there were two shops and one of them was dirtier and less “New York-y” than the other shop, so that was the one they preferred. So, I immediately had a desire to visit the shop and just spend some time there. I went to the dirtier and less “New York-y” of the two and spent some time reading my Bible, praying, and overall just spending time with the Lord. The experience was super comforting and fulfilling, I definitely needed that time because it helped me to feel a bit of closure. I’m still mourning the loss of my cousin, but the experience of being able to mourn with those who were mourning (Romans 12:15) and the opportunity to spend time in one of his favorite places was definitely helpful and made me feel better about the whole experience.

Here are some of my pictures from my time at the coffee shop:


I have so many lovely memories of my cousin and being able to reminisce on them has been really helpful in mourning. As soon as I heard of my cousin’s passing last week, I started thinking about little things he did for me as a little kid. One thing that I remembered was that I sent him my “Flat Stanley” for him to take around LA when I was in 2nd grade. I sent him a “Flat Stanley” that I colored, but he generated a much one on his computer and took it with him to work, the Hollywood sign, the beach, and more. I really appreciated him doing so much for just a piece of paper! However, it’s the memories that I have now that mean so much.

He also wrote a few pages in a book called my “Journey Journal” when I was in 1st grade. He talked about his life in Cali, his family, and his job. He also mentioned how he wished he had been in North Carolina, “where my heart will always belong.” I decided a few days after his passing that I would get a tattoo in his handwriting that said “my heart will always remain” so I did it and I LOVE it!

Here’s a photo of the finished product:

I’m thankful for the artwork that my crazy Cuzzo Wayne created during his lifetime and I know that his legacy will live on forever. I miss you Wayne!


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