Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Sunday afternoon, as the temperature was dropping fast and we were all getting ready for this snow and ice storm that has stopped us in our tracks, I saw him.  Just before I crossed the river, I happened to look over and saw a man sitting alone on a rock close to the riverbank.  I thought about him the rest of the day and hated myself just a little for not knowing how to help him.  I tried to reassure myself that surely he would be heading to shelter soon.  It was too cold to be out there.  Didn’t he know, couldn’t he tell that a big storm was coming?!  A million questions ran through my head the rest of the day about those who need help and who have no homes or shelters to protect them. 

Guilt over not helping him, and not even knowing how to help him continued to haunt me.  But eventually I forgot about him and busied myself with getting our own warm, comfortable home ready.

Until today.

Sam and I took Scott to his office this morning and just as we were coming off the bridge, I happened to look over and see the man sitting there…exactly as he had been three days ago.  It was unmistakably the same man, in the same position, and I was suddenly overwhelmed with guilt and worry. Sam and I drove to the police department to report that there was possibly a man frozen to death down by the river.  Sam and I talked a lot about it and he was sad for the man, too.  Rather than drive home to wait for a call that may never come, we drove back to the river and got there at about the same time as the police officer.  I pulled up behind his car and watched him walk all the way over to the man. 

You cannot understand the depths of my relief when the man looked up at the police officer.  My very first thought was a prayer to God for thanks that I didn’t kill the man by leaving him on Sunday and then I asked for forgiveness for so many things.

I waited for the officer to return to his car.  He told me that the man was fine.  This was just his favorite spot to sit so he gets up early to claim it. 

Whether that is true or not, all I know is that he is alive.  And that I will forever be changed.  Now, what to do about it.

352930205_c7d28c5074 (Disclaimer: I sure wish I could claim this picture, but I found it on Flickr!)


Becky said...

Good story Sunny.

Sometimes, we forget to actually care about others, and you got your wake-up call to remind you. He's a lucky fellow that it was you, and that the situation wasn't worse. It could very easily have been...

Your mom and dad gave you something when you were growing up that you don't see much of nowadays. It's called a conscience, and it's a gift. May not seem so much like one while you're growing up, but it is.

Thank you for sharing this story. It has started my morning in a most wonderful way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. It is a wake-up call for all of us! So many times I have good intentions, but get busy and never follow through. I am so glad it was you and all was well! Now I wonder what would I have done?