Fall has always been my favorite season for many reasons: hot apple cider, big pots of chili simmering all day, harvest parties, actual reasons for campfires and toe socks. The list could go on and on.
But now I have a new reason for loving fall and that is for the day of setting our clocks back, and it isn’t for the reason of getting to sleep in because that didn’t happen in my house.
As a matter of fact, the opposite happened; my entire family was awake by the new time of 5:15 a.m. and ready for the day. Because of our early start, we went to church earlier and decided to set out for town, our first stop was Fred Meyer.
Anyone with toddlers knows what comes next when you stop in close proximity of the duck pond – you end up feeding the ducks. We hadn’t come prepared, so we bought some cheap bread and also some carrots to feed the nutria, and then we bought a few things for us all to have a picnic lunch.
As we pulled into the duck pond parking lot, I immediately noticed a man lying down on the ground without any shoes or socks on. I couldn’t believe what I had seen at first considering that it is November and was very cold outside.
The kids started with their little picnic and I couldn’t stop thinking about or looking at the man lying on the ground. After deliberating for a few minutes, I asked my husband if he would be okay with me going over and talking with him. He said yes, so without another thought I headed over to him.
I quickly learned that his name was Otis. He did have shoes and socks in front of him, but they were beyond unusable and that is all I will say without the details.
His clothes were very dirty and torn up, and I could tell that he hadn’t been able to bathe in a long time. His feet were so tore up from not wearing shoes it literally hurt me to look at them.
Otis told me that he gets by with his disability pay every month and that he lives in a tent. He has children and he pays child support every month. Otis is a Veteran and he does remember at one point in his life when he was someone who was important.
Otis also told me that so many people give him a hard time for being the “bum” that comes and lays around at the duck pond when they just want to bring their kids to feed the ducks.
He also said that he comes to the duck pond because it is quiet and peaceful, because he doesn’t have to worry about other homeless people bothering him and he can just rest, he isn’t trying to hurt or bother anyone.
My family went to Wal-Mart and we bought Otis a pair of shoes and some socks, a first aid kit, a shirt and some sweats. We also gave him our lunch that we had bought for ourselves.
We involved our children in all of this and explained to them that life is hard and sometimes things just do not go the way that we planned for them to. Sometimes we need to help and sometimes we just need to give some love.
We all need to know that someone loves us and cares about us, even if we do not know who that person is.
Lastly, my husband gave Otis his jacket that he was wearing. My 7-year-old seemed distraught over this and asked, “Why daddy? Why would you give him the jacket you liked so much?” And he said, “Because, I have more jackets and Otis has none. He needs it more than I do and that is more important!”
We as parents have got to figure out what is important to teach our children in this lifetime. They are our hope for a future filled with compassion and love: God's love.
We have to teach them that God loves us all: He loves me, He loves you, and He certainly loves Otis.
We as parents have got to figure out what is important to teach our children in this lifetime.