Yesterday, during my lunch, I took some time to talk to my mommy. It was so good to talk with her. As the time went on, we began to talk about my friend, Lee. She knew of him from Facebook and totally understood when I said good-bye to her to share with him a quick hello, which turned out to be an amazing fifteen minutes.
A few people have asked me how he became homeless. When I thought of why, I realized it wasn’t in my head anywhere, so I doubted if I’d ever asked him, so I had planned to ask him yesterday. When I sat down next to him, I noticed he was reading a book I lent him: “Tequila, Lime, And Salt.” He was really enjoying it but wanted the company much more, so he closed his book to talk.
I asked him how he became homeless. He sighed. Over the years, he had been asked that many times and was tired of telling the story over and over again. I let him know that it was okay if he didn’t tell me at all. He said, “No, you’re my friend. I’ll tell you. I like talking with you,” and began to tell me of his life.
For twenty-seven years, he worked in an automotive repair shop in Florida. Eleven of those years was selling used cars out of it. He owned the shop and had been thinking of closing the doors, when he was robbed…completely wiped out, so he decided not to rebuild. He sold his condo and moved to Townsville.
While there, he learned how to garden. He had a few acres, a meadow…a lot of land. He was very fond of yard sales and began shopping at them on the weekends. In his endeavors, he found (and bought) a couple of Betty Crocker boxes filled with recipes cards and began to cook. He would just pull a card out and make it. More than anything else, he enjoyed shopping for the ingredients the most. But, after awhile, the money ran low, so he knew he needed to get a job.
He had always wanted to drive a truck, so he obtained the licenses to do so. After four years of truck driving, he couldn’t pass his physical, so he lost his job. The doctor told him he had a health condition that caused Lee to think his money would outlive him, so he decided to live off of it. That was four years ago. Two years ago, the money ran out, but he continued living…in Balboa Park.
For him to share so much with me was an honor. He’s fine living day by day, relying on God. The only things he misses are being able to shower and sleeping on a bed. At night, he sleeps by the museums to keep warm, but they leave the lights on, so the birds think it’s daytime and sing away, which keeps him up. Time ran out, so I said good-bye and headed back to work.
As I neared the closest intersection, a homeless man, whom I’ve seen before but has always been unapproachable, approached ME. He said, “You a Christian? I’ve been watching you. You helping him out?” I told him he was my friend. I wasn’t quite sure why he was asking. He said, “He’s a good man. You want him off the street?” I said, “I want to be his friend.” He began to open up more to me.
He explained that he’d been trying to help Lee, to get him to go to the VA to get help. He said, “I told them it makes those people feel good to help, that they probably have money for him there,” but Lee won’t budge. He thinks that Lee doesn’t want to be involved with the system at all. I think he wants me to encourage Lee to get help. His name was Mike, and I invited him to our worship on Thursday. I think he’ll come.
Everyone has a story worth listening to. Each story has its own colors, its own artwork. I feel like listening to Lee’s story has opened up a huge door for me to listen to more. I want to hear everyone’s story: friends, coworkers, strangers…everyone. God is amazing and can be found in every story! I’m excited for tomorrow. It’ll be fun!