As most of you know, I love visiting our local Goodwill on a regular basis. By being a regular, I am very familiar with other regulars who shop there often. Some I greet and chat with.... others I stay away from.
There is this one little man, who I had decided was homeless... he always looked a mess, he looked dirty, disheveled, and I always wondered about his mental status. He never bothered anyone. Except one day, he stood near me and passed gas.... loud gas.... and it smelled terrible! I then added 'an old drunk' to my description of him. When my daughter visited and we went to Goodwill, I would tell her "don't get near him, he'll pass gas on you.' As we giggled and minded our own 'superior' lives.
A few weeks ago, I saw this man come into the store and buy a jacket. He put it on while in the store and then I saw him walk to his car! hmmmm, maybe he's not so homeless, I thought. But still.... I must keep my distance from him. He's different.
Tuesday, as I left my local Goodwill, I needed to stop by Aldi's for a quick trip to pick up a few things. As I got out of my car, I noticed a man trying to 'drag' himself across the parking lot using a shopping cart. He had his left arm thrown into the cart, where a child would normally sit and he was dragging his left leg. He was very unsteady and I thought 'this man might need help.'
I started walking towards him and immediately recognized him as the little Goodwill man. He looked up at me and I could tell he was hot, weak, and that he had obviously had a stroke since I had last seen him. I said 'sir, may I help you?" His speech was slurred, but I understood him to say he needed help getting to his car, which was parked over two parking lots away. I then said to him "sir, I've seen you around town and I don't remember you as having had a stroke . Have you had a stroke?" He said 'YES, this morning!" I continued to ask questions, trying to determine if he had been seen by a doctor. "NO, I don't need a doctor!" he said. "I was at the doctor yesterday!" I asked "had you had a stroke yesterday?" He screamed "NO, I TOLD YOU I HAD A STROKE THIS MORNING!" I told him I thought he needed to see a doctor and that I didn't feel comfortable taking him to his car. He became angry and told me to just let him die.
I walked away, but continued to watch him from the lobby area inside the store. He tried to take a few steps and I noticed his pants fell down; he was completely nude from waist down. He attempted to reach for his pants, and I watched him fall onto the pavement. I ran out of the store and told him "sir, you have got to let me help you!"
A young lady appeared and helped me to get him back on his feet and we pulled his pants up for him. He became a little nicer at this point, but was adamant that he did not need help, he did not need a doctor, that he would rather just die. A store manager came by and brought water and a chair for the man. I stepped back into the lobby of the store and called 911, knowing I may really get cursed out for this measure.
I went back to the man and told him what I had done and that I felt like he needed help. He fussed a little, but assured me he was NOT going to the hospital.
The EMS team arrived and agreed that he had had a stroke, but because he was in his 'right' mind and could answer all questions appropriately, they could not make him go to the hospital. I asked the policeman if he could carry the man home and he replied that he could not.
I understand their position, but how can we leave a man who has obviously had a stroke, who cannot even walk without falling..... how can we leave him here in a parking lot????
I asked the man where he lived and realized it was only a few miles outside of town. He gave me permission to take him home. I assisted him to my car, I grabbed his paralyzed leg and put it into my car, buckled his seatbelt and off we went.
He was very nice to me in the car and he talked nonstop all the way to his house. Even though I only understand a small part of it, I did hear him say that he wanted to die again.
God tapped me on my shoulder and said 'ask him if he is going to heaven when he dies.' Just then, we passed a beautiful church, which allowed me start the conversation. He told me that he did not know Jesus personally. I told him, as quickly and as simply as I could, about how to be sure he would go to Heaven. He responded something back to me, but I have no idea what he said.
I just know that God allowed me the opportunity to witness to this man, this man who truly wanted to die. My attempt at witnessing was a very feeble attempt, as I stammered for words to say, but I do feel like God can use my words, such as they were.
I got the man home and offered to help him inside. He refused to let me help him, stating he wanted to sit outside for awhile. I helped him to get situated in a chair and went across the street to let his sister know what had happened and where his car was located. She did not know he had had a stroke, she said he was fine yesterday.
When I drove out of her driveway to go home, I had to pass by the man's house again. There he was, on the ground, crawling towards the steps. I stopped again and waited for the sister. We were able to get him inside his home, where he was once again adamant towards his sister, that he did not want to go to the hospital.
I left, I don't know what happened. I don't know if he went to the hospital, I don't know if he died.
I just know that God humbled this old girl on Tuesday, as my heart feels completely different towards this little old guy than it did before.
I pray that God will give me the opportunity to help others, without judgement... to see the need, to listen to HIS voice... to obey.
*** I worked for over 10 years in a nursing home, and these little hard headed patients were ALWAYS my favorites. ***