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God Bless You Mr. B

One day this week I had an experience that reached deep into my soul..

 A man came into our office, a potential client seeking assistance.  He was sixty, humble, and soft-spoken, his arms covered in tattoos.  He told me that he'd been "locked-up" for the past twenty years, and was just  released two months ago.  He wanted to work and had tried to rejoin his brother in the welding business, but the arthritis crippling his back and hands was making that impossible.

I was struck immediately by the reality of spending twenty years in prison during the prime of your life.  Obviously, a sentence of that length wasn't handed out for stealing hubcaps, yet I found myself feeling no curiosity as to what he had done.  Instead, I was overcome with compassion for the man sitting across from me.  I wasn't terribly busy at the moment so I didn't need to rush in obtaining the necessary information, and was able to spend some time with him in conversation. I asked what it was like being on the outside after so long.

He talked about how much the city had grown in the past twenty years; he hardly recognized it and found it easy to get lost.  I told him that my husband frequently reminisces about various locations and the way things used to be.  The city has experienced tremendous growth because of the booming oil business, and has changed dramatically in just the six years I have lived here; I can imagine that returning after an absence of twenty years would feel like you stepped into some kind of time machine.

He told me that being out in public is the hardest...  interacting with people, adapting to different situations, how noise bothers him, and how he jumps if he is accidentally bumped or touched.  He said that being in crowds, and sometimes even being in large open spaces, is unsettling, and that he often has trouble sleeping at night.

He has a large extended family here in the city - siblings, children, and grandchildren he is just now getting to know.  Although he may feel like a stranger to them, I am sure they are grateful to have him home.

I do not know what kind of man Mr. B was when he went to prison; I do know that people change a lot over twenty years, whether they are locked-up or living free.  The man who sat before me was not hardened or intimidating, as some of the ex-cons we deal with tend to be; he was simply an old man trying to restart his life on the outside, wanting to live his remaining years in peace.

After we visited for awhile, I scheduled the appointment he requested.  As he got  up to leave he asked my name, and I told him it was Josie.  He looked at me and said  "Thank you, Josie. You are the first person that has treated me like a human being."  When he left I cried for him, and for all the people so badly in need of someone taking a  moment to be kind.

May God keep you safe and bless the remaining years of your life, Mr. B, as abundantly as He's blessed mine.  

14 comments:

  1. This made me cry. How kind of you. I am sure you made a difference for this man. I hope I could have and would have done the same.

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    1. I hope I made his day a little nicer, Ranci, he certainly made an impact on me. We are so quick to judge... and yet we are all so very human in what we want and need from life. I'm certain you would have treated him kindly, that is your nature. :-)

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  2. Wow. Sounds you were both blessings to each other that day.

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    1. Yes Ma'am, life works at it's very best that way, when two people come together and part with both feeling blessed. I know that I certainly did. It was a humbling experience to say the least.

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  3. Every person should get a smile and some compassionate interaction. Mr. B deserves for things to go his way now.

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    1. Amen to that, Mimi. I try hard to treat every person that comes into our office with kindness, compassion and respect. I hope that others will treat me the same. It's easy, really! Mr. B does indeed deserve a second chance at life, some years with good memories being made.

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  4. thank you. It only takes a few moments to make a big difference. I'm proud that you took that time to make him feel like someone again.

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    1. His story touched me so deeply Gail, how hard it would be to have to come with your hat in your hand and explaining why you hadn't worked in so very long. Ex-cons often come in with attitude, over-compensating, but I treat them just the same regardless. If you treat people with respect, most often they respond in kind. Underneath our various shells and covers, we are all really just the same, human beings in need of love, understanding, and acceptance.

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  5. A good story. Very good that he found you after coming out of prison.

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    1. I was glad he came to our office too, Shimon, we can hopefully help him, and I like having opportunities to share a little kindness.

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  6. Sometimes we just have to look past the past of people and the present ;o)

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    1. Exactly right, Abelle, it is not about who he was, or maybe even who he is now. Those aren't my issues or concerns. He is a fellow human being, and as such deserved to be treated with respect and kindness, as we all do!

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  7. The you handled him is no surprise to me. You see past the tattoos and the experience and look straight at a person as a person. I wish there were more like you than not.
    <3

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    1. I've never been one to pay too much attention to the "cover" on people, Brenda, in fact I often miss the obvious, like a mustache that has been shaved off after many years. I try to look at the heart, and remember that we all have problems and issues and sides that might not be so beautiful or perfect, that's what makes us human... and we are all related!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)