I wrote this last week and couldn’t decide if I wanted to share it. With all the ugliness in the news right now, it seems appropriate to bring in a little light.
Last summer Mike and I picked up two young hitchhikers, Joey and Kristi. They were headed to Paonia, an hour away. Mike told them we’d take them halfway. We enjoyed talking with them and decided to take them on to their destination. Joey had traveled all over the world, once spending a few months in Spain with a donkey as his companion. The book I was writing had a donkey in it, so we connected right there! We left them on Main St. with their banjo and juggling pins where their friends were going to pick them up. It was an hour that left a lasting impression on me. We became friends on Facebook and I’d kept up on their adventures, even planning to visit them when we rode through Salt Lake City in July, although that didn’t work out. Last weekend Joey passed from this earth and my heart has been tender since I heard the news. It was a random encounter, but felt fated that we meet.
Today as I left work, I saw a woman across the street on the corner with a sign. It’s not unusual here to see that, and I turned toward home. Maybe because my heart was tender, I circled around and stopped. I handed her $20 out the passenger window. She was shocked and grateful and asked my name. When I told her, she said her name was the same as mine. She didn’t think I believed her and insisted on showing me her id. Sure enough, she was Gerri Lee. I’m Jeri Lynn. She said I’d given her enough for a bus ticket to Colorado Springs and from there she could get home to North Dakota.
I got out to give her a hug. She’s been living behind Target in a tent, which is where the homeless stay in Montrose. After talking with her, I gave her another $20 to help her on the way. She was crying, I was crying, and we hugged several times.
I’m not writing this because I want you to think what a good person I am (or possibly what a fool). I’m sharing to encourage you to follow your heart. I have a home, I have all the food I need, and I can certainly live without the $40 I gave her. Was her story a scam? It’s possible, but I tend to trust my gut and it led me to help her.
I wrote a middle grade novel called The Adversity Tree. In it, Lily and her Aunt Jazzie help a homeless man by buying him a meal and giving him $20. When Lily’s friend questions what the man will use the money for, Aunt Jazzie says, “You can’t know what a person does with the niceness you give away. You give it as your heart tells you to give it, and don’t question it.”
I’m glad I listen to my inner voice. Something bigger than me led me to Joey and Kristi and Gerri. I’m the richer for it.
Kristi and Joey (used with permission)