My husband and I had to take our son to a pediatric dentist yesterday. I hadn’t planned on him going as Sunday he shut me out and I wanted to limit the amount of time he was forced to spend with me. It ended up working out well. Being forced to sit in a car with me for an hour there we were able to begin to hash out where the day went wrong and mend that part of our lives.
Along the trip down, I saw an older man dressed in a sock hat, jeans, and a long sleeve button shirt sitting along the highway under an enormous shade tree. We made eye contact and I felt the pull at my heart strings. The temperature was in the 90s with high humidity and I knew he had to be miserable.
We ran a few errands after the dentist and started the hour trip back home. I passed the shade tree the old man was under before and he was not there. Just a mile or two up the road and there he was with all his worldly possessions, hitchhiking. I looked at my husband and he looked at me and we knew we had to turn back.
We loaded his things into the trunk and I moved to the backseat with the kids and my husband drove. We found out he was going to a town that just a few miles out of our way so rather than drop him off and try to hitch to the next town we just agreed to take him all the way to his destination.
Sitting in the back, I just listened to the interaction between him and my husband and it became clear right away that he had an unmedicated mental disease. He was 71 and backpacking all over the country for a grassroots organization that he believed held police and political figures accountable to their constituents. Listening to his stories was fascinating and also broke my heart. Listening to many of his conspiracy theories, I saw so much of my husband in him.
After we dropped him off and started back home, my older son asked why we picked him up. I told him that sometimes it’s just the right thing to do and that it probably took more for that man to trust us than for us to trust him.
It breaks my heart to know that there are so many like this man; sweet, very intelligent, thankful for what they do have, but only lacking in a support system or medication. I don’t know his back story or why he ended up on the streets. I just know I saw what could be my husband in 35 years if it weren’t for the wonderful family he was blessed to be born into.