I posted the following update on Facebook a few days ago:
I have so much to share with everyone about Guy, Robert’s brother. We found him recently after 12 years of searching. I could never pack it all in to a Facebook status update though. What I can share is that every day Guy ministers to our family. Sully called it right when he saw a picture of Guy. Malnourished and honestly looking like he was near death, Sully said, “He’s a priest.” I hesitated. I tilted my head, like a half no. Sully clarified: “I know he’s not a priest on the outside, but he is one on the inside.”
And, this is true.I can’t post that picture of Guy. It is too painful. I have never in my life cried harder than I did when Robert sent me that picture from Stockton via text.
Guy has come a long way since we first made contact, but he has a very long way to go. Broken bones that were never mended and so much more than that. Failing eyesight. I cry some every day, but each new day brings more joy and progress.
Every day, Guy tells us something we need to hear. I have known since the beginning that even though it seems like we saved him, he has really saved us. I don’t know how long we will have him, but then I remember how extraordinary it is that we have him at all. Today, he told me that judgement equals resentment and resentment equals fear and fear equals hate and hate leads to rage. He said in order to avoid a life filled with rage we need to learn not to judge people.
Several friends left some really wonderful comments and a few suggested I begin writing a book about our experiences with Guy. Despite queries from small publishing houses, I can’t even finish a book proposal. I’m thinking I must suck when it comes to writing books and I better just stick to blog posts. For now anyway. *Sigh* So, here ya go. This is The Chronicles of Guy.
It has been a month since we found Guy. We brought him back to Oklahoma on August 6. He lives in the small apartment behind our house.
I’ve been mapping out activities and opportunities for him every day. There is a lot to take care of, so I just pace myself. I got him squared away on membership classes at the church we attend. He wants to become Catholic, like Robert, so that is nice. On Wednesday, we visited the transit center downtown where I bought him a one-month bus pass for $50.
On Thursday evening we visited all bus stops near our house. He mastered the MUNI in San Francisco, so Embark (formerly Metro Transit) here in OKC is no big deal for him. It was fun exploring the handy-dandy map the transit system provides. One complaint, however; there are no route numbers on the new Embark signs. I have never ridden Metro Transit, I mean Embark, but I promised Guy I’d go with him one day.
Daily Living Center
On Friday afternoon, we visited the Daily Living Center on Kate. I was really impressed with everything they have to offer. For several years, I’ve given small financial gifts to the Daily Living Center, so it’s interesting that now I am accessing their services for Guy. This is a wonderful community resource. I’m pinching myself that they are here to help my brother.
The Daily Living Center has popular 80s arcade games. It’s fit for the aging Gen-Xer!
Yes, I think of Guy as my brother. Of course, IRL (in real life) he’s *only* my brother-in-law and it doesn’t matter how much I do for him he always says, “My brother Robert came and saved me.” I’m fine with this. But, at night when it’s just Robert and me laying in bed staring up at the ceiling wondering what in the world we’ve gotten ourselves into, he says, “I was just the Marine who went in and threw him in the back of the Jeep.”
Ahhh, there was more to it than that. But, Stockton was a nightmare. Robert told me it took all the courage he had to go into that third world war zone of that American city. It’s a containment zone. Northern California’s containment zone for those on fixed incomes who are isolated and alone and can’t make it anywhere else. A containment zone for the poor who have no family or friends to help them. Crooks, criminals, addicts and the mentally ill are all packed in there. And, Guy, who suffered a horrible traumatic brain injury as a child was there. He endures a myriad of adverse health effects from his injury. I told Guy one time I didn’t understand why there was so much suffering in the world and he simply responded, “We suffer so we can learn to bear our suffering.”
The best time I’ve had with Guy so far was when we went to the grocery store. He couldn’t believe how much food I have to buy for a family of five. He loved picking out all the things he loves to eat. He likes bologna and Swiss cheese sandwiches; avocados and Coca-Cola. Sometimes, we talk about what it was like for him to be so destitute. He receives about $675 a month from Social Security. His rent in Stockton was $475. That left $200, $40 of which he had to give to the payee who made sure his rent was paid every month. So, Guy lived on $160 a month. Out of this, he always made sure his cats had kitty litter and cat food. Supposedly, he was on a waiting list for Section 8 housing, but he lived in Stockton for nearly a decade. Something had gone terribly awry and poverty pushed him to despair.
In order to eat, he walked two miles to St. Mary’s Dining Room twice a day. He also received assistance and support from Gospel Center Rescue Mission. There are a lot of wonderful people helping the poor and broken in Stockton. It truly is a mission field.
Sometimes, Guy talks about going hungry. He said starvation was difficult to endure, but eventually the pain went away. When he left Oklahoma City in 1997, he weighed 220 pounds. He was very strong and had mastered T’ai chi. When he arrived in Stockton in 2007, he weighed about 185. Today, he weighs about 140 pounds. Several months ago, he was hit by a car and never received treatment for his injuries. He suffered a spine injury in childhood, which was later exacerbated by a fall during a martial arts competition. Not long ago, he was jumped by some gang members. They beat him within an inch of his life and stole his wallet and Obama phone.
Basically, Guy’s back and shoulders are a total mess. When he took off his shirt to wash our cars Robert and I were both stunned to see bones or maybe tendons sticking out. He needs a lot of help and we just take it a day at a time.
So, How Did Thing Get So Bad?
I ask myself this question every day. I think about all the times the heavens whispered Guy’s name to me and how I went looking for him and didn’t find him. For nearly 12 years I searched. Why didn’t I report him missing? Why didn’t I try harder? Why couldn’t I have found him sooner?
I think about all the times angels must have been shouting to get my attention. I know in these moments Guy was in total despair. These were the darkest moments of his life and he couldn’t call loud enough for me to hear him. But, God heard him and so many times over a 12-year period he put Guy on my heart. I would go looking for him, and then one day — one day when things could not get any worse– when he was sleeping in a bathtub to avoid blood-sucking parasites that had infested his apartment — I found him. And, now, here he is. He says patience is the virtue that helped him survive. He says that all things unfold in time.
Life Will Not Be Denied
Finding Guy has taught me more about the Love of God. He depends on us to be his hands and feet. The Book of II Chronicles says He is casting His eyes about the earth looking for those who want to do His work and will so He can bless them. Guy blesses us every day. The other night we were watching NOVA and a show about life on other planets. Guy says life will not be denied. “If it can survive it will.”
And, Guy survived unimaginable pain and loneliness.
How To Deal With Regret
I have screwed up a lot in life. I never thought I’d be someone with regrets, but I am. I regret people I didn’t choose and paths I didn’t take. As a young woman I thought I might be called to the mission field, but I didn’t want that life. I’d done work and witness in Belize in 1988 and it was awful. I spent a college summer working at the City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City. It was hard and I didn’t like it. I wanted to fall in love and get married and get stuff. A brand new Honda Accord, a white picket fence, trips and more stuff. In the end, most of it ended up in garage sales or at Goodwill.
When I’m changing Guy’s sheets or cleaning his toilet or getting him a glass of ice water or listening to his stories about UFOs, I am happy because I can practice atonement. This is how I deal with regret. Everything I do for Guy is half penance, half offering. I am happy to know that God’s Love goes before us in our darkest hours. The heavens open up and the Holy Spirit and God’s angels whisper our names to anyone and everyone who might be listening and able to help. Maybe it’s a job or a dollar; a piece of cake or the time it takes to listen to a boring story. I hope in the future I can trust this celestial interceding more than I have in the past. I hope to live more in the present. I know that it is all Guy has. It is all any of us have. This moment, right now.