Had a wonderful conversation with one of our friends who lives in his car. Frank had requested that we sit down together so that he could ask my opinion about a situation—a relationship—that was troubling him.
This friend of mine is a crusty, old man. I mean he has lived a rough life, killed a man many years ago for sleeping with his wife, been in and out of prison, doesn’t need anything from anybody, and “won’t put up with s@#% from nobody neither.”
Frank has diabetes and his feet have begun to hurt. He limps slowly, wincing as he walks up to the counter to order. He resists my scoldings when he requests sugary sweet masala chai and tells me that “He’ll eat whatever the hell he wants to. He’s a grown man, and “ain’t nobody gonna tell him what he can and can’t eat.” I’ve explained to him that I don’t want to see him lose his feet. His response is, “Nobody gonna take my feet. I’m leavin’ this world with all the parts I brung into it—‘cept my teeth a course—They’ll have to let me die ‘fore they take my feet.”
Frank has been hanging out at Joe’s for a few months now, acting all grumpy most of the time, but I have discovered that underneath all his prickly exterior is a sweet and tender heart that he protects inside his barbed wire fence.
As we talked through the issues and tried to consider how Jesus would want him to treat this other person, he suddenly became very quiet. Then he said, “About a month ago, I was thinking about leaving.” I wondered where he was planning to go. He said, “Well, you know, I’ve been a drifter most of my life. Never stayed too long in one place, so I thought it was about time for me to move on. But I decided to stay.” I asked him why and he said, “In all my life, I’ve never been a part of something good . . .” With tears in his grumpy old eyes he said, “I wanna finish out my life being part of something good.”
Frank’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.