Lunch with Lawrence Little

(Is Mother Goose a fool? Am I a saint? The story continues…)

Mother Goose was dozing on the couch when the sharp knocking on the door startled her to wakefulness. I had been plagued by a stubborn headache all morning on Wednesday and was resting my head. Oddly, my good dog, Fran, did not bark. Mother Goose got up slowly from the couch and made her way to the front door, noticing the time on her phone said 1:00 pm, and it was still Wednesday.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to guess who was on the other side of the door. Mother Goose knew it would be Lawrence, and then also remembered that she didn’t have a job in mind for him to work on. There was obviously no yard work, no shoveling to do, no cleaning or painting. Maybe he could clean the steering fluid puddle off the driveway? Nothing was coming to mind as she turned the handle on the front door.

And there was Lawrence smiling brightly.

“Please, won’t you come in?” asked Mother Goose as though she were inviting the President to enter her home.

He stepped across the threshold of our home with a look of surprise.

“Would you care for a cup of coffee?” she asked.

“Yes ma’am, I would,” answered Lawrence Little, the homeless man who was looking for work in the general area of a friendly goose.

“Did you find a place to stay last night?” Mother Goose asked as calmly as if she had homeless people over to her house for lunch all the time.

“Oh, I ended up staying far away from Oak Park last night,” Lawrence replied. “Sometimes I just sleep on the el, but it’s hard to sleep when you are on the el. You have to keep looking over your shoulder to see if anyone might rob you. Of course, I don’t have anything to rob…” His voice just trailed off.

Lawrence carries no backpack, has no baggage, just the clothes on his back. The “el” is Chicago’s elevated train system. There are many routes or lines of this mode of transportation: red line, green line, blue line, brown line, pink line, etc. The blue line runs all night and is known as a semi-safe place for homeless people to spend the night if they aren’t close to a homeless shelter or can’t afford one.

I had asked Lawrence if he’d tried staying at the Oak Park homeless shelter. He said that it’s like winning the lottery to get in. Many people try, but few are chosen.

Mother Goose led him to the kitchen and had him sit down at the table. She poured him a cup of orange juice, set it in front of him and asked if he’d had anything to eat yet today.

“Yes, ma’am, I had a sandwich.”

“Would you like some bacon and eggs?” asked Mother Goose.

“Yes, ma’am, I would. Thank you so much.”

The hands of Mother Goose shook as she scooped the coffee grounds into the coffee maker and then poured in the water. She was trying so hard to appear casual and confident as they made small talk about his family and hers, his life on the streets and hers in a house with children. Mother Goose knew very well the potential for danger in this situation.

But he talked and talked, and Mother Goose listened and made agreeable conversation whilst she melted the butter, fried the bacon, cracked the eggs into the pan, split the bagel and put it in the toaster. Mother Goose is very good at listening to folks make small talk and making breakfast for people — she can practically do both in her sleep…

“What church do you go to, Mother Goose?” Lawrence asked.

I looked him square in the eye and said, “Lawrence, I love the Lord, but I just don’t do well in church. The people there just don’t seem to understand me.” Dear reader, you can read an allegorical account of my latest bad church experience if you just click here.

“Oh, I know all about that,” he said. “But I have such a good church now. Maybe you’d like to visit our church — it’s right here in Oak Park.”

He gave me the name of his church, the address where it’s located and the name and phone number of his pastor.

bacon and eggs

Mother Goose set down a bacon and egg sandwich in front of Lawrence, and then wrote down all of his churchy information.

I asked about his family, of course. His mother moved to Jackson, Mississippi many years ago. She has a whole set of problems of her own. He says that she loves him, but says that he has to work out his own life on his own. He also has an older sister who is a doctor, he said. He didn’t mention a father.

“I’m forty-five years old,” Lawrence announced.

“How long have you been unemployed?” Mother Goose asked politely.

“Since 1998,” he answered. “I used to work at the Jewels in the Chef’s Kitchen, but then I got into some trouble because my mother, she was having some problems. I’m a momma’s boy, I’m the youngest, you know. I made a lot of bad choices, and that’s how I ended up here.”

“But things are getting better,” Lawrence continued as I tried hard to process all of this conversation and this unusual situation I was in. “I have a place to stay. The lady there said I could stay for thirty days if I’d just get some work and pay her some money. And here’s my Illinois ID card.”

He showed me his card which had an address and his picture on it. He told me the name of the landlord and the address of where he could be staying if he could just come up with the rent money for one month. I shakily scribbled it all down on the opposite side of the paper as the pastor’s name and number.

Poor Mother Goose was beginning to feel very overwhelmed. The bagel sandwich was quickly disappearing, and Lawrence was talking about how kind she was, and how they were friends now. Mother Goose got out her wallet to give him some money to help him with his potential rent payment.

“I have to walk over to the school and get my daughter now,” I said.

“Oh I understand,” said Lawrence. “Ok. Thank you so much for the lunch. It was so good. Which way are you going?”

Mother Goose put on her coat and shoes at the front door. We walked down the block together. He asked when he could come back and do some work for me. “Well,” I said, “Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday so I’ll be busy with that. Maybe Friday?”

“Oh thank you, Mother Goose,” he said. “I’m just so happy that we are friends! Do you know I can draw pictures? Maybe I could draw a picture for your daughter.”

We said “goodbye” and parted ways. He continued to talk as I walked west and he walked east. I knew that I needed to tell somebody really soon about my new friend, Lawrence.

That evening I said to my dear husband, “I made a new friend today! He’s a homeless man.”

You won’t want to miss the next chapter of my story, “The Lawrence Little Dilemma”.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teresa Dawn
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 20:59:13

    Well, I say I can’t wait for part 2 and you posted it 26 seconds later according to my reader… if I ask for part 3 can I have it in another 26? C’mon, what about 30 then?
    This is great! Will you try out the church? Have you already? Was that an exact quote when he called you “Mother Goose” lol! (Guessing not πŸ˜‰ ) Your story is intriguing.

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 07:09:46

      Teresa Dawn, I am hoping to visit that church next Sunday — I know it will be a wonderful and loving experience, full of praise and worship of our most High and Glorious God. (I may have stretched the truth somewhat by saying that Lawrence called me Mother Goose….) πŸ˜€

      Reply

  2. jeff noel
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 21:42:40

    Praying for God’s wisdom and guidance for you Mother Goose. Seriously. πŸ™‚

    Reply

  3. Dianna
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 05:36:48

    Ditto, Jeff! Mother Goose, you need a safety setting.

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 07:11:51

      Dianna, thank you dear. I preach “safety first” to my children all the time. I’m looking for my own “safety setting”… πŸ˜€

      Reply

  4. Patty Hebert
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 06:23:14

    As Mother Theresa did and urges other to do: Recognize Jesus in the distress and disguise of the poor.

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 07:33:03

      Thank you, Patty! Mother Theresa nailed it. When we see Jesus in the disguise of the poor, then we can serve Him fearlessly. Thank you so much for understanding why I do what I do.

      Reply

      • jeff noel
        Feb 24, 2013 @ 10:54:03

        Mother Goose, we must never (ever) forget that the devil also arrives in disguise. Sure this thought complicates our decision making – exactly what the devil is striving for. Okay?

  5. Bunn
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 08:23:34

    Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story MG!
    Did he come back? Did he clean the house? Did he draw pictures for BG?

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 08:52:19

      He did come back and he did some shoveling for me. He hasn’t drawn anything for us yet, but he told me yesterday that he is also a professional dancer. He can spin on his head and he also dances in church.

      He also said that he’s got some sort of stomach flu, had to go to Cook County Hospital and needed to get his prescription filled, but didn’t have enough money for that… I told him that I couldn’t give him anymore money. It was distressing both for him and for me — I’d like to help, but I have totally run out of resources.

      I’m sure he’s got other people who can help him…

      Reply

  6. Dynamo Di
    Feb 10, 2014 @ 15:23:48

    When you have pure positive energy, as you have, you are always safe and divinely protected πŸ™‚

    Reply

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