CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Patrica Bracey’s routine begins each morning shortly after sunrise. The Chester woman strolls with purpose through Magnolia Lakes.
It is my highlight of the day. Bracey stated that she is walking in the crisp morning and feels good. “I haven’t heard my choir yet, though. “My birds are usually singing.”
The destination of the 74-year old is never changed.
“My church. Iron Bridge Road!” she exclaimed.
Bracey smiles and waves six days a week to everyone who passes her at 55 miles an hour.
Rush hour along this stretch of Route 10 hasn’t been the same for a year and a half.
“I’ve really met some fantastic people out here. Bracey described Bracey as “really nice people.” “It is so funny. It is funny how some cars are tooting while others start toting. I try to do both.
It’s difficult to determine who is more satisfied.
“It makes people’s day,” she said. “And when it makes people’s day, it makes my day.”
Her motivation comes from a higher power.
“The Lord told me to do it,” she said. “In June of last year, he told me to come up here and wave and smile, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Although snow and rain keep her indoors, she is not affected by falling temperatures.
“Last winter, I think the only thing people could see was my eyes. I was covered up. The only way they could see my smile was my eyes,” she said.
During the pandemic, she saw that people needed help.
“This is my ministry. This is my church,” she said. “All it costs is a new pair of shoes.”
The perfect prescription was known by the home-health aide. The Minister of Wave can change the course of a person’s day.
“She always brings a lot of joy. She always has a nice smile, and she always has a good word from the Lord,” driver Tisha Lee said.
Neighbor Mary Ginetz said Bracey’s good deeds couldn’t be measured.
“I think that small act of kindness can spur another act of kindness,” Ginetz said. “Some mornings I leave, and I am like ‘ugh.’ But then I see her I think how awesome.”
Bracey has carved out quite the following.
“I’ll see people in the grocery store, and they’ll say, ‘You’re the lady on Iron Bridge Road,’” she said.
The South Hill native’s road hasn’t always been paved with laughter.
18 years ago, she was in financial trouble and moved to her car with her two dogs (and a cat) after falling on hard times.
“I lost everything I had,” she said. “From June 20, 2003, to September 21, 2004. It was a tough go of it when I first when in the car because I was embarrassed and ashamed.”
She was homeless until her family came to the rescue. Bracey didn’t lose faith despite her trials.
“God told me as long as I focus on Him, I’ll never be in the wrong place,” she said.
She is determined that she shares her blessings in the most direct way.
“You can’t get more if you haven’t given some of it away,” she said. “The point [of the smile and wave] is. “I see” you. I see what you did, and you’re special.’ And hopefully, they’re receiving it in the way that is given.”
Bracey is a woman who lives on a single wave and a prayer.
She is located on Route 10, near Chesterfield County Food Bank, if you wish to send her a wave or a smile.
She begins promptly at 8 :15 a.m.
Greg McQuade, WTVR, first reported the story.
You can also catch Greg McQuade’s “Heroes Among Us” reports Thursdays on CBS 6 News, 6 p.m.
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