I had a man friend that was going blind. He had lost his job because of mistakes he had made. The mistakes were largely due to the fact that he couldn’t see, but you know how men are. It took an automobile accident to finally get him to go to the doctor and be told what all of us had been telling him for a year. “You are losing your eye sight.” He had cataracts in both eyes.
He was in dire trouble. He didn’t have medical insurance. He didn’t have a job. He couldn’t drive anymore. He lived alone. For the first time in his life he felt hopeless and lost. He had worked since he was 10 years old. He had always taken care of himself and his family. All he wanted to do was get his eyes corrected so he could go back to work.
He was a big man; 6’8”. He had been raised by deaf parents. He knew adversity and how to fight the odds to achieve his needs and desires, but he had never been to such a low point in his life.
He swallowed his pride and knocked on every door concievable. Every place he went he was told that he wouldn’t qualify for help until he went totally blind. He tried so hard. He tried to make them understand that all he wanted was short time help so he could get his eyes corrected. He wanted to take care of himself! He just needed help to get his sight back. “Sorry, No, No, No, and Sorry. Come back when you are totally blind.” It was the same answer everywhere he went.
The last place he went an African American woman watched as my 6’8” friend went beyond the anger and frustration and stood there with tears falling out of the ’almost sightless’ eyes. “Can you go sit down for a few minutes? I will be on my lunch break soon. I would like to speak with you privately,” she whispered to him.
Because he was so humiliated by his tears his first inclination was to snap a “NO” and hurry out of the place, but her softness touched him. It had been a long time since he had talked to someone, in these places where he had gone to ask for help, that had treated him as if he was a man with worth. So he sat and he waited.
As she was walking out of the building she crooked her finger at him indicating that he should follow her. When they were outside shesaid to him, “I am not supposed to tell you this, but I have heard that the Lions Club helps people that cant afford to have their eyes taken care of. I think it would be a good place for you to investigate. You’ll get no help here until you are totally blind. I’m certain the Lions Club wont require that of you.”
My friend came to my house and used my phone to find a contact at the Lions Club. He was treated with respect. He was treated as worthy. He was treated as he was; a man that just needed someone to care for a small moment of his life. They mailed him the forms. They walked him through the paper work. They accepted him as a human worthy of their caring. And when he received the letter that said that he had been selected as a candidate for their philanthropy he once again shed tears. He was not a man that cried easily. He had been taught that tears were not for the manly man. As I watched the tears fall off of his chin I thought about the African American woman. She was one of God’s angels. Her caring had given my friends life back to him. A huge man brought to tears because a small woman had cared.
I had him move in with me until both surgeries were completed and he could see once again. The minute that he was given a clearance by the doctor he went job hunting. He had a job within a week. That had been all that he had wanted. Just a little help until he could see again.
When Christmas arrived that year I found a huge package under my tree. He had bought me a computer! My very first computer. “Thank you for letting me move into your house and your life when no one but you, a little African American woman, and the Lions Club could see that I was worthy,” was written on the card that was attached.
And that is why I am able to tell you his story.