‘Your dad is ok. He’s in a beautiful place.’ Hundreds gather to bid farewell to Wyatt Rees
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UCON — Hours after Wyatt Rees died, his 7-year-old daughter, Kailey, looked up at her mother, Mindy, and said, “I now have two fathers in Heaven.”
Wyatt was laid to rest Friday at the Ucon Cemetery. The 35-year-old father of four died Monday after battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for over five years. Hundreds of family members, friends, former mission companions and acquaintances gathered at The Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stake Center in Ucon for his funeral.
Mindy Rees and her children sang ‘Peace in Christ’ and during her remarks, she shared about meeting Wyatt at church. They attended a baseball game on their first date and eventually became engaged, marrying in the Idaho Falls Temple.
“On our wedding day we were sitting in the temple and he said, ‘Don’t you dare start crying in the sealing room. This is not a time to cry. This is the best day of our lives,'” Mindy recalled. “During the ceremony, we were just smiling at each other the whole time. It was the best day ever.”
Wyatt earned an automotive technology management degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho and was proud that he and Mindy did not go into debt for his education. They both worked to pay for everything on their own but after graduation, Wyatt realized he did not want to be a mechanic. Instead, he decided to become a seminary teacher for the LDS Church.
“He was hired in May 2014. Before school started, he asked me to come and help him because his hands weren’t working,” Mindy said. “One day he called and said he couldn’t lift his arms up. I was pregnant with Scarlett at the time and his whole first year of teaching we were going to doctors trying to figure out what was wrong.”
Mindy said she’ll never forget the day Wyatt called and said he fell flat on his face in front of his class. The former high school football player had to hold on to walls as he walked and Mindy needed to button his shirts, tie his ties and tuck in his pants.
“One morning he was in the shower and yelled, “I can’t move. I’m stuck,'” Mindy remembered. “Eventually the church sent someone and they told us they would take care of us but he needed to stay home and figure out what was wrong.”
After three years of unanswered medical questions, Wyatt was officially diagnosed with ALS. Over time, he lost his ability to move, speak, eat and swallow, but his brain remained unaffected.
“It’s been five and a half years since I’ve heard his voice. It’s been five and a half years since he was able to give me a hug. It’s been five and a half years since he held my hand back,” Mindy said. “He was in a broken body and he didn’t want people looking at him thinking he was any different.”
Christie Rees, Wyatt’s mother, shared how her son, who had been strong, active, and independent, had only one regret: that he wasn’t able to teach seminary longer than he did.
“He wanted to teach them (the students) of Christ and see the light in their eyes,” Christie said. “He also didn’t want to die and leave Mindy and the kids behind. Toward the end, he was hurting so bad and even at the very lowest points, Mindy never waivered. She never failed him.”
Mindy knew Wyatt would die young at home. She was “terrified” that she would be scared to go back into their bedroom.
“After he died, I looked down my hall and said, ‘I don’t want to go down there,'” she said. “But that’s where my clothes are so I walked in and it was the best feeling in the world. He was there and I could feel him.”
The night Wyatt died, Mindy asked her religious leaders, Bishop Myron Creager and Stake President Timothy Solomon, for a blessing as they visited her home.
“I sat on the kitchen chair and the second they laid their hands on my head, I felt the weight of Wyatt’s hands. For the first time in five years, I felt Wyatt again,” Mindy said. “It was so real and I wanted to open my eyes and see him there.”
Creager called his first visit to the Rees home “a sacred experience” and shared scripture with the family to “let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.”
Solomon addressed Mindy and Wyatt’s children by promising them they will never be alone.
“Your dad is ok. He’s alright and he’s in a beautiful place and he loves you very, very much,” Solomon said. “You miss him and he misses you. He loves you but you can feel him.”
Mindy closed her remarks by thanking everyone who has supported them over the years and saying her husband is now freed of “this dang disease.”
“Wyatt and I have a mission to do together,” she said. “So Wyatt – Go. I will take these kids, you will move forward and we now get to move forward. We love you, we will miss you but get to work.”