Terrell County-- It was a picture perfect day 40 years in the making. "That day was a wonderful day," Mavis Moore said as she flipped through a collection of wedding photographs. It was the day Mavis Lark shared her first dance as Mrs. Wayne Moore.
"Wayne Moore loved life more than any man I have ever known in my life," Mavis said.
And Mavis knew right away she loved Wayne. "The connection so deep that you felt like you already were a part of each other."
Mavis and Wayne enjoyed a whirlwind romance. "Well, 19 days is not too long of a time after you meet before you put a ring on a lady's finger I don't guess," she said with a laugh.
Just 19 days after their engagement, Mavis and Wayne vowed to stay together until parted by death. "Wait all these years and not get married and then marry a man in 38 days, I must have been desperate. But I wasn't," she joked.
Mavis was convinced she'd spend the rest of her life with this southern gentleman, a down-home guy who wore over-alls as they left for their honeymoon; a man who loved the outdoors.
"The woods called his name he said," Mavis remembered.
Wayne heard the call of the woods ever since his grandfather took him hunting the first time when he was just 4 years old. "He said there he was at peace."
Eleven months to the day after the wedding, on a peaceful first day of deer season two years ago, Wayne hiked through some Clay County woods to the tree he picked out the week before. It was a spot he knew was the perfect place to take a big buck. "The last thing I remember was him saying I love you Mrs. Moore. I'll be home in a little while," Mavis said.
But Wayne never made it home. "They think he got about 16 feet up and they believe he adjusted his stand and there was movement and it fell to the ground."
Wayne was using a portable deer stand called a climber. There may have been a problem with the stand, one made by a company that previously made pots and pans, and didn't have an engineer design the equipment. "There's manufacturers out there who are in it for money, not about customer satisfaction, not about safety," Mavis said.
But Wayne may also have made a tragic mistake by forgetting his safety harness. "That morning when he got out of the truck, he left the harness in the truck. I guess it was dark. It was the first day of hunting season. He was ready to get to the woods. Maybe he just missed it, but it was there."
It's a mistake Mavis doesn't want any other hunter to make. "You get comfortable. You do things you normally would not do," she said. Wayne's death sent Mavis on a mission of love. "My desire for other people not to have to live through what I've lived through."
Mavis can see the cemetery where her husband is buried from her office window. The epitaph on his grave is his favorite saying, "It's a beautiful morning." It's the title of the song Wayne sang to Mavis every beautiful morning of their life together. The song he sang the last beautiful morning of his life.
"And he said come here Mrs. Moore. And I said what is it. And he said we gotta dance. And I said it's time to go hunting Wayne. And he said no, we've got time to dance. And we danced around our kitchen. A most precious moment."
Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Moore's last dance together, now as precious a memory as their first.
Encouraging all of us to dance, to enjoy life, and love those around us . . . that's Mavis's main goal in telling her story. She also wants hunters to be more vigilant when they check out their equipment, make sure you know what you're getting before you buy it.
And concentrate when you're hunting. Follow every safety guideline and always keep your guard up. And when you do that, think of Mavis and Wayne dancing, make your commitment to safety his legacy.
For more information on hunter safety, you can visit the following websites.