LEWISTON — The Rev. Walter “Wally” Webb has the first sermon worked out in his head for the Sunday he makes it back to church.
He’ll be preaching, most likely from a wheelchair, but he is going to do it, he said Thursday.
Even if he has to drive his wheelchair the 2 miles from his home in Poland to the Minot United Methodist Church.
His sermon will be a secret until then.
Webb, 74, was in an accident on Route 119 in West Minot on Dec. 21 that left him with full paralysis of his arms and legs, said his wife, the Rev. Kay Webb. Since then, he has gained back some sensation and movement.
He is working to build his strength so he can sit up on his own.
“It was one of the days that it was fine in the morning, kind of wet, and after he left it started misting and freezing, the same thing that happened to me, and he lost control, drifted across the road and hit a sport utility vehicle head-on, she said.
Her husband’s accident happened 13 years to the day after Kay was in a similar crash on Route 4 in Livermore. In that case, the other driver lost control on the slippery road and collided with her vehicle. She was left with months of recovery and still walks with a crutch.
Her husband of 40-plus years was at her side the whole time.
She plans to do the same for him.
He suffered a broken neck, a bruised spinal cord, broken ribs and a broken left wrist, she said. She, too, had a broken left wrist after her accident, along with broken bones in her ankles.
Her husband had a rod and pins put in his neck at a Lewiston hospital, then was moved to New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland for a month before he came to the Marshwood Nursing Care Center in Lewiston, where has been for nearly two weeks.
“He is able to move his arms a bit but doesn’t have a lot of control,” she said. “He can move his legs some, with a lot of effort. He cannot bear weight on his left arm or legs.”
He is making progress.
“It’s been quite a siege,” Kay said.
The couple was grieving the death of their 44-year-old daughter, Roaine, in 2011, and then struggling with Wally’s recovery. They’ve been helping with the care of their 10-year-old twin grandchildren.
The two ministers have helped hundreds of people since they moved to Maine in 1976. Wally was the only minister in the house until Kay began classes in the late 1990s to become a pastor. Wally has been ministering full-time since 1967.
They have served churches in eight of the 16 counties of Maine from Aroostook to Androscoggin.
Kay is pastor of Eaton Memorial United Methodist Church in Livermore Falls, a job her husband held several years before her. She is also executive director of the United Methodist Economic Ministry in Salem Township and Solon.
Wally retired as a pastor after serving United Methodist churches in Farmington and New Sharon.
That retirement lasted 13 days, Kay said. He went to South Paris half-time as a retired pastor and then to Minot, also half-time.
The Minot church had a benefit supper earlier this year. Eaton Memorial United Methodist Church will host a benefit concert, the Opus One Big Band with Dale Perkins at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 4, at the Spruce Mountain High School North Campus cafeteria in Jay. It was formerly known as Jay High School at 33 Community Drive, which is off Route 4.
Proceeds will help with anything needed, including getting Wally home. Kay is looking for a wheelchair van to move her husband around.
Therapy over, Wally was lifted back to his wheelchair. “The eagle has landed,” he said.
“A sense of humor helps not only with physical healing but with your mental attitude,” Kay said.
People from all over have been rallying around them.
“We have had so much support from folks, it is unbelievable,” Kay said. “To have this happen at this time in our lives is a real struggle.”
She knows her husband is strong and will make it. He grew up in Pennsylvania, the oldest of six children and went to work at 12 delivering newspapers to help support his family after his father died.
“He’s got a lot of courage, a lot of stamina. He is going to do it,” she said. “When I had my accident, he became my legs. Now it’s my turn.”
Benefit concert: Opus One Big Band with Dale Perkins
When: 6 p.m. Sunday, March 4, at the Spruce Mountain High School North Campus cafeteria in Jay. Formerly known as Jay High School at 33 Community Drive, off Route 4.