The Lawrence Little Dilemma Begins

Mother Goose didn’t really plan to invite a homeless man into her home for lunch.

And yet, the truth of it was that here she was in her kitchen making coffee, frying up bacon and eggs, and toasting a bagel for a man who had been living on the streets for the past ten years.

Sometimes, Mother Goose has to just shake her head at the unlikely turns that her life takes!

On Tuesday, as she was climbing the front porch steps after a long emotional tutoring session with the squirrels, Mother Goose heard a man calling out, “Ma’am, excuse me, ma’am, do you have any work for me to do? I’m homeless. I haven’t eaten in two days. I’m a man of God. I just need to do some work so that I can get into a hotel tonight. Do you have any work I can do for you, ma’am?”

Mother Goose turned to look at the middle-aged man walking up her sidewalk. He was dressed in a Carhartt chore jacket, baggy light-colored Carhartt overpants with a black stocking cap and gym shoes. His face looked a little tired, but he smiled at Mother Goose when he reached the bottom of the porch steps. He looked clean enough and didn’t have a beard. He didn’t smell bad and seemed to have his teeth. Most homeless folks really look homeless, but this man looked pretty “normal”. Mother Goose hates to use that word, but my readers will surely understand…

Normally, I do not strike up conversations with strangers who are walking by. I greet folks with a hearty “How ya doin’?” and then let them pass by my house.

We live just two blocks from the western border of Chicago, near a neighborhood where shootings happen regularly and gangs own the blocks. Territories are staked out and street corners are occupied. I drive through the Austin neighborhood everyday on my way to work — I am curiously drawn to these streets and the people who have little choice but to live in such extreme conditions.

Unemployment, drug deals, violent crime and guns are the real facts of life for these folks, and yet there are families who live on the residential streets of Austin. There are little kids who walk to school, and moms who pray that their children will arrive safely.

I typically stay in my car when I’m in the Austin community. Perhaps you read the story of the time Mother Goose rode her bicycle to an oasis within the neighborhood, the Garfield Park Conservatory

Unless I’m going to a meeting where we are working out ways to connect military families and veterans to the social services and VA-sponsored services they may need in their community, I try to be as safe as possible and just keep driving.

However, if I’m waiting at an intersection and see a homeless person walking between the cars trying to collect some change, I’ll immediately reach into my purse for whatever I can find. I drop the money in their cups — they say “God bless you, ma’am. God bless you.”

homeless

When Mother Goose looked into the eyes of this homeless man at the bottom of her front porch steps, her heart was filled with compassion for him and his circumstance. “I don’t have any work for you,” she explained. “But I’d like to help you anyway.”

Opening her wallet, she found some bills and handed them to the man. He smiled gratefully as he reached for the money, and said, “Thank you, ma’am. My name is Lawrence. Thank you so much.”

Softly, Mother Goose replied, “Oh my grandfather’s name was Lawrence.”

The homeless man beamed knowing he had made a connection. “Well, there you are,” he said. “I knew we had something in common. And what is your name, ma’am? I’d really like to do some work for you. Could I come back tomorrow for some work? I’d sure like to do some work for you.”

I told him my name and said that if he’d come back tomorrow, I’d find something for him to do.

Though I am a very giving person, even this was way out of the box for Mother Goose. This is called beginning a relationship with a homeless man. It starts with the exchange of names. Now it is no longer anonymous donations in an empty coffee cup. Now it’s personal. Now there are expectations and hopes and suggestions of help to come. Now it gets real. Now there’s a commitment of sorts.

Some people would say “Now this is an open can of worms.”

Mother Goose said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Lawrence. Around noonish?”

(Please return tomorrow to hear more of this story…)

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18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeff noel
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 09:29:52

    Natalie, your story humbles even a humble man.

    Wow.

    The risks are written as big as billboards. Yet you moved forward in faith.

    Inspiring.

    Very, very inspiring.

    Both you, AND Lawrence.

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 23, 2013 @ 20:54:57

      Thank you, Jeff. I don’t know if I’m an inspiration or just a fool right now. I stepped out in faith — hopefully the Lord knows where this is going… I sure don’t.

      Reply

  2. Bunn
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 09:45:59

    That’s my sister Goose! The kindest person I know! Sometimes the Nordern Minnesota Goose compassion shines a little too bright for everyone’s comfort!

    Reply

  3. Patty Hebert
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 09:57:03

    Mother Goose you are amazing!!

    Reply

  4. Jakub Kaczmarzyk
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 10:55:11

    As Jeff said, very inspiring! I look forward to reading tomorrow’s post.

    Reply

  5. Dianna
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 13:39:57

    You’re brave, Natalie……I worry about you sometimes.

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 23, 2013 @ 21:01:04

      Seriously, Dianna, I worry about myself sometimes too. I’ve never been one to take risks, but it seems that since the Mother Goose persona came into my life, I do a lot of things that I would have never considered before. It seems I’m always looking for an adventure…

      Reply

  6. Teresa Dawn
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 20:53:51

    Love this and can’t wait for part two. There aren’t many homeless in my town… Might see one begging once a year or so but that’s it… I always give if I have cash, but I rarely do since I tend to just use cards.

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 23, 2013 @ 21:03:03

      Teresa Dawn, thanks so much for stopping by tonight! Maybe pick up some McDonald’s gift cards to keep in your wallet for when you see somebody who might need just a little bit of lunch.

      Reply

      • Teresa Dawn
        Feb 23, 2013 @ 21:15:10

        Half the time they need it for something else though… transportation or etc, so I prefer to give them cash… I just have to remember to keep a little on me haha. (Hard to do when I’m trying to pay the bills at times.) It is a good idea, though I’d probably do Tim Horton’s as there’s a lot more of them around then McDonalds… not even sure if McDonald’s has gift cards here… haven’t been in one in years.

  7. Debbi
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 23:26:53

    My parents told me about our Irish Grandpa, a fireman in his new home of Ft. Wayne Indiana, who fed the homeless during the depression by leaving food each night on the back porch for the ‘hobo’s’, I always imagined the freight cars nearby, ……..God bless you….and I too look forward to the next segment of this new adventure……

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 25, 2013 @ 13:23:57

      Debbi, I admire your dear Grandpa for taking care of those who were less fortunate that himself. It’s an old tradition to take care of the stranger and the wanderer and the hobo’s — I should really consider setting up a little table out by the sidewalk for the homeless passerby-types…

      Reply

  8. Trackback: The Return of Lawrence Little | Mother Goose Smiles
  9. Dynamo Di
    Feb 10, 2014 @ 15:08:16

    How lovely. What a big heart Mother Goose has. I’m popping along to read the next instalment now 🙂

    Reply

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