ALBANY -- His devotion to his mother and to others is evident in nearly everything Wayne Cheatham does.
For almost five years, the 49-year-old Cheatham has visited his mother Vera nearly every day.
It doesn't matter the weather. Or, recently enduring a flat tire on his bike that has caused him to walk about 45 minutes from his residence, Cheatham will do whatever it takes to spend about five hours each day with his mother before he heads to his dishwasher job at Logan's Roadhouse.
However, Cheatham's caring ways that often feature his warm smile aren't just reserved for his 80-year-old mother. He also spreads his love to other Palmyra Nursing Home residents during his visits, so much so that some residents mistake him for staff.
"He gets my ice and water," said Doris Becker, who has lived at Palmyra for three years. "When I first came here, I thought he worked here because he helped people so much. I couldn't believe he didn't work here, and I really thought he should be on the payroll."
Cheatham takes such praise in stride. Ever since his mother became a resident of the facility in March 2005 and joined her late husband Dan at Palmyra Nursing Home, Cheatham has taken a sizable chunk out of his day to see his mom.
"Rain or shine, I'm here," said Cheatham, the second-youngest of five children. "I just have to see my mom. It's just a feeling I have to come because she took care of me, and now is my time to take care of her.
"I just feel funny if I have to miss a day," he added. "I just have to come. Everyone knows me. Some people think I work here but I'm just volunteering, and if I don't (come) some will ask about me. I choose to come here because I care about the residents and I get a blessing from it."
Vera Cheatham, who has diabetes, says she appreciates her son's dedication. Her other children live in Miami and Orlando, Fla.
"It's wonderful," she said of her son's faithfulness. "It's nice to know he cares and comes to see me. From when he was a baby, he's been my baby. He always wants to be near me and by my side. And it was all right for him to be with his daddy, but most of the time he was with me."
Loving mom Vera credits her son's caring ways to his upbringing.
"One of the things that would help to explain our family is that his daddy was a minister," said Vera Chetham, who was wearing an "I Love Jesus" necklace she made. "He was humble as a baby."
Cheatham's Christian background doesn't surprise Mary Hicks, a paid sitter for Margaret Robinson's mother, Edna Adams. Robinson suggested featuring Cheatham to The Herald after witnessing his remarkable commitment to his mother.
"He had to be reared really well in a Christian home," Hicks said. "He has a great attitude and wonderful manners. You can give Wayne anything."
Robinson said Cheatham has proven his dependability countless times.
"If someone who is a caretaker needs something put in a car, he'll do it," she said. "He's very trustworthy and you don't see that anymore. Not many people give out their car keys. That shows how trustworthy
One of the things that impresses Robinson the most about Cheatham is the fact that he breaks a gender stereotype.
"It's one thing to see a daughter here, but it's another thing to see a grown man," Robinson said. "He comes here in the morning and stays until it's time to go to work at Logan's. ... You always see him smiling. Everything seems positive. He's just so glad his mom is doing well."
Cheatham's desire to spend time with his mother isn't new, said 17-year Palmyra Nursing Home Activity Director Sandra Tillery.
"He's volunteered since the day she came in, and he's part of us,"
Tillery said. "He takes the residents to the programs and assists them. He gets (and sets up) our bingo tables.
"There's lots of good that goes on in this facility from the community," she continued. "If the community didn't support us, we couldn't do all we do."
Vera Cheatham can't think of her life without her doting son.
"He knows how much I love him," she said. "I love him very much because he comes and goes. And, comes back."