I read a news story this morning about a woman in Texas who stopped on the side of the road to chat with a homeless man. She passed him in the exact same spot every day for years and her curiosity got the best of her. He was emaciated, unshaven, filthy. We’ve all passed “him,” haven’t we?
Remember the Man-With-The-Golden-Voice who hung out by the highway and became a media sensation? I passed him every day on the way to my child’s school. There he was, all wild haired... and then there he was on Dr. Phil with a Cliff Huxtable sweater and a haircut. My, wasn’t he handsome then? Presentable.
The woman from Texas stopped to ask this man why he was always in the same spot all day, every day. He told her he was waiting for his mother because that is where she left him.
He was waiting for his mother. Right where she told him to wait for her.
His mother was not coming back and this man struggled with mental illness. But maybe she really did leave him right there the last time he saw her. And he could very easily be my beautiful boy.
Let me give you some background.
What you might not know is that he also had autism, a speech disorder, and a learning disability. The man was raised in an affluent suburb with the best schools but they failed to teach him to read. This man’s parents were older when he was born, highly educated with good jobs and didn’t retire until they were forced to. His father had excellent medical benefits at work and his resourceful mother accessed everything from funding to therapies to alternative treatments. They would have liked to have saved more, yet the man’s mother worked only part time so she could care for his unique needs. He found joy in going to sporting events, concerts and hikes in the park. His parents looked at spending money on these activities as investments to practice social skills since he had so few opportunities otherwise. Parties, playdates and neighborhood shenanigans stopped when he was in preschool. His parents were his best friends and also his life outside of the house.
People were once drawn to the man when he was tiny and adorable. As the years went by, he felt confused when people didn’t respond in the same way when he would wave at them. His parents put off their will because the idea of appointing a guardian was so daunting. How do you ask someone to make sure YOUR child is OK for the rest of THEIR lives and beyond?? Given his parents became increasingly isolated as he grew older, there were fewer options. So they did nothing and hoped for the best.
The boy grew into a man and his parents made him one by making sure he always had a job. Health issues became too much for them to provide the physical assistance he needed right around the age he no longer qualified for a healthcare waiver. They paid for care, but after just five years, their life savings were gone. The parents did everything right. One day, on the way to a doctor appointment, the mother asked the man to wait outside. She worried if the doctor saw she was caring for a disabled adult, he would be taken away... taken to live far away in a substandard care facility with strangers. One that would release him to the streets when he hit his Medicaid funding cap. “It’s better to let him wait outside,” she must have thought. At that appointment, she was told she needed surgery immediately for a blocked artery. Only it was too late. She died without letting anyone know her beautiful boy was waiting for her on the curb.
There he sat for three years. Wandering for food and help. He was unintelligible and illiterate. He looked crazy. Or drunk. He sat until that lady stopped to ask him why he was there.
This could be my son one day. My beautiful, disabled boy.
Actually, I know very little about the man in Texas. Those who believe everyone makes their lot and are owed nothing, is this who you picture when you see the guy sitting on the side of the road? That guy may have once been your white, upper middle-class neighbor’s 11 year old child who you thought was a ‘cool little dude’. Where do you think those kids go when they have no one? Is he somehow different? Because you personally know us and we kind of look like you, does it make him more deserving than the dirty adult sitting on the curb? You don’t recognize him because you don’t have to look away from the road.
Call your congresspeople TODAY.
Don’t know who they are? Click here. Don’t know what to say? Read them parts of this article that spoke to you. Remind them NO ONE should be thrown away.
We can stop the repeal of the ACA. $800 BILLION Medicaid cuts are going to be made into tax cuts to people who don’t need them. Medicaid will come capped as block grants to states. Where will my baby go when he meets his cap? I have split my time between working and paying taxes to the country I am asking to help and I am also providing his care. How do you keep a job ensuring your commitment as a tax payer while also caring for your child to make sure he is safe and productive? No job...I’m a freeloader. Job....I’m not taking care of my own. The circular logic for the reduction of assistance and subsidies is just that ridiculous.
I am glad to hear that man from Texas is doing well and there are citizens out there who might stop their cars to find out how they can help. This, however should not be my son’s disability policy. His life is worth more than a sound byte on the local news.