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IN MY EYES: The Old Shoemaker

Real stories from real stories touch our hearts, fellas.

To make it all more memorable, they happened in January.

Bless, a single mother career woman tells of her experience with a homeless person she will never forget”

“This is a story that happened 15 years ago but it has always stayed with me since then.

On the way back from work every evening, more often than not there would be a homeless man standing at the exit of the freeway.  He looked to be in his late 40’s but was probably a lot younger. He had shoulder length straight black hair a short beard, and he was of average stature.

His eyes were what struck me the most about him, they were brown and they had a sparkle. Like an inside light that was beaming out of his eyes.  His eyes, I thought, represented the man in general. People say they can tell a lot from a person’s eyes. It was certainly true in his case.  He always waved at every car, he was always happy and smiling and sometimes almost dancing.

Every day after work I would remember to gather any spare change, and put it aside to give to him if I saw him. A feeling of joy would come over me every time I saw him, as I came off the ramp.  He had that effect.

I’d quickly roll down my window and give him the coins. Occasionally the red light would be on for a minute and we would ask each other about our day. His answer would always be the same, “I’m blessed!”.

I knew what his answer was going to be every time, yet I would still ask. It amazed me that even in his situation of being homeless he was so positive, and his answer would remind me of how blessed I was, a single mother of four amazing kids, with a place to call home and with a job to provide for my kids.

Then one day I was called into my boss’s office and was told that I was being laid off due to the economy. A feeling of worry engulfed me, and for the rest of that day all I could think of was “how am I going to provide for my kids, how am I going to pay rent, what am I going to do?”

Needless to say that on my way home that day I was very sad and upset. I didn’t remember to look for my spare change and keep it ready like I usually did.  I wasn’t feeling the joy as I got off the ramp where the homeless man would be. Yet there he was as always, as I turned the ramp.  He set his eyes on me, while still smiling and waving at others.

I passed by, not even giving a stare.

While I was waiting for the red light to turn, he strolled over to my car.  He had a big smile; he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Today I will give you a dollar”.  He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill.  I was blown away.  I burst into tears. I wanted to jump out of my car and hug him!

You see that day he gave me more than a dollar bill — he taught me a valuable lesson. No matter what material things are taken from you, no one can take away your choice to be joyful. My ride home was smooth sailing, I had lost my job, had no savings, but I knew I was blessed!

Every time I’m faced with challenges, I think of the homeless man’s valuable lesson and remember that I am blessed.”

Another story is told by Febrihana who happened to pass by an old shoe vendor by the street corner while in a state of depression.

“Today, I felt terrible. My head was full of problems and confusion.  I decided to take a walk even though I didn’t know where I would go.

I saw an old man sitting on a chair. He was a seller of second-hand shoes. I thought he looked at least 70 years old. He seemed so tired and nobody was buying his shoes. People passed by him wanting nothing of his stuff. I wanted to give him something but I had not brought anything with me.

Then, a shabby little girl came towards him. It was New Year and the weather was cold.

I heard the child say, “Grandfather, may I polish your shoes?”

The old man looked at her, took pity on her, smiled and he gave her a shoe to polish.

“I polish the shoe because we have nothing this New Year. My mother is sick and I need money to buy my brother a new school uniform,” she said, tears flowing down her cheeks.

I heard and saw this and tears came to my eyes.

The old man answered, “Oh, little girl. Just stop doing this. Come with me and I will buy you a uniform.”

I followed them, feeling a lump in my throat. They walked to a market and he bought her a uniform.

The girl was so happy.

“Thank you so much for doing this. May God bless you.”

Then she left, leaving the old man smiling.

He walked away from the market, but I stopped him.

I whispered in his ear, “Thank you for making someone happy today. Thank you for your kindness!”

As I walked away teary-eyed, I glanced back and I could see him still smiling.

I was blown away by the kindness I had just seen.

My own sadness had completely disappeared, chased away by the light of this kind act.

I began realizing that I have a lot to be thankful for. I hope, someday, I can show my appreciation of what I have by following the example of the old man who only had a little, but shared it so beautifully with someone who had nothing.”

May the kindness of the old shoemaker live in us throughout the year, fellas.

What a wonderful 2018 would it be!

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