Blessed to be a Blessing.
When I was about 18, I used to drive back and forth to the city to pick up my sister who worked on George St (Sydney, NSW). I would wait for her till she finished work and would wait with a man named Keith.
Keith was homeless for the most part, if he had a bed to sleep on for the night at the shelter he called himself blessed, but most days he didn't have that. Keith was a kind soul, he was a very friendly man and had such a generous heart. I knew that I could without fail find Keith in the same spot right near McDonald's, that buying 2 McBurgers and his large coffee with 2 sugars would NEVER go to waste but be taken with an astounding thankful heart and cheerful smile, these afternoons is what I looked forward to every day!
Through Keith I learnt the real essence of giving and giving with a thankful heart. Seeing Keith give away drinks that he was given, and smiling at people even if they wouldn't throw in a few cents into his busking pan and being still and silent under ridicule from others who judged him on his basic appearance and where he is was an amazing and heart aching lesson but one that developed me into the person I am today.
It's a hard story to tell of Keith because his story that got him to where I met him is his own to tell, but I recall him saying that "I have made mistakes, mistakes that weren't good choices at the time, but they are the mistakes that got me to where I am and I do my best to get out of this state to hopefully having a home that I can properly support my Mrs and myself and no longer NEED the sympathy of others and their change to only just get by". His mistakes made his situation but he hoped that his situation wouldn't be his future, Keith wasn't an alcoholic and he didn't like drinking (would actually give away the alcoholic drinks he was given), he would smoke if he had cigarettes and would save what he received from the nights on the streets to buy sustainable foods for him and his Mrs.
I LOVED sharing dinners and coffee's with Keith! He inspired me so much to always love people, no matter how hard it may be, others hearts matter. I remember one night it was a bit quiet and not many cared too much to look at him let alone help him and I turned to him and said, "Keith, what is it that you need? What is it that if you have the money for it or offered anything, what do you need and miss?", Keith replied with simplicity and no extravagance, "You know what Sarah? I really wish I could buy some socks, and pardon if this is rude, but I really need some new underwear as well" (Keith blushed and put his head down, almost as if his desire for new socks and undies was a rude and inappropriate to be said in front of me). The following week when I went to see him surprised him with some new warm thick socks and a bunch of new undies. Keith's face of joy and excitement MADE my whole week! He couldn't stop thanking me for this gift and got teary eyed saying "Now I know I can afford to buy food for this week because I needed to buy some socks soon this week since it is getting so cold lately".
Socks? Undies? Something so basic in most of our lives that we feel as though it wouldn't be such a big deal right? Well to Keith it was, to Keith it meant that he could feed more of his homeless friends that week so he didn't have to spend his money on the things he NEEDED but wasn't too sure if he could afford or if buying them was being selfish and a waste of good money. Keith wanted to be able to have hygiene products, dental and other personal needs but couldn't afford it. I wish now that I had missed a bill or two of mine to assist if I knew that later in the future I wouldn't get that opportunity to do so.
Well, as the months passed on, the seasons changed and the year turned over, our visits then became weekend visits because of work, I saw him less often than usual. Then one day, I went looking for him, I looked for HOURS and couldn't find Keith anywhere, I came back the next day, the next weekend and then next but he wasn't there, every time I was in the city I would look for him, driving up and down George St but no sign of him, he was gone. There was a sad piece in my heart that the last dinner we shared was potentially the last and there was a cheerful side that MAYBE, just possibly this was the beginning of something much better and greater for Keith, that maybe he got his hearts desires and he no longer needed the streets to support him and help him.
I prayed that the best came for Keith and stayed with him, that his generosity was returned to him ten fold. I hope to meet Keith again one day and be able to share another dinner with him, spend hours talking and laughing, catch up again, spoil him and thank him for all that he had instilled in me through our hours of laughing and sharing. I hope that I can bless him again to show him that there's not a week that goes by that I don't wonder what he is up to or how he is doing. I know that the hours spent with Keith were not only for the benefit of him but I feel was so much for me and are some of the most valuable conversations and memories I have to this day.
I could carry on for too long about all the memories I have from our dinners and late night snack (and may just add in a few in another blog), but long story short, and to lighten the mood just a little, I hope to be able to do bigger things in the future than just hygiene packages, but for now.....just a little does a lot! So I will happily start doing a little for a lot of people.