Sometimes life is strange. Take the life of Curtis Jackson. Mr. Jackson is a homeless man. One of the visible denizens of the urban junkyard we purposely ignore on a day to day basis.
Since 2004 Mr. Jackson has been standing on street corners with a sign and a cup in his hand. Trying to survive. Seven days a week. In the wind, rain, sleet, ice, and snow.
Mr. Jackson has nothing to lose. He already lost it all. Mr. Jackson has everything to give.
A woman who was kind to him and treated him with dignity lost it all. Her good job in a bank, and her house. She almost lost her child thanks to DCFS. She was able to get a temporary hotel room and stay off the street.
She did not lose it all due to her conduct or bad personal choices. She was not a substance abuser or mentally ill. She was like us. She played by the rules, worked hard, and was the victim of things she had no control over- downsizing in a bad economy and the mortgage crisis.
Mr. Jackson heard about her plight. He decided to return the kindness and dignity she showered on him. He hit the street harder. Every dime he made, short of what he needed to survive, he used to pay her hotel bill. Over $9000.00 since December.
“”I have God. I’m one of the richest men on this earth, ’cause I have God… “Money is not my master. That’s what’s wrong with this world: money is its master. “I’m out here for a purpose: to help someone, and that’s all I’m trying to do is help someone that needs help right at this moment… And once she doesn’t need help anymore, I’ll move on to something else.” Fox Chicago
Chicago author and raconteur Studs Terkel’s wife Ina, used to say- “If you impact the life of just one person, you will live as long as that person is alive.” This woman impacted the life of Mr. Jackson when she had it all. He never forgot. Now he is impacting her life.
This woman and Mr. Jackson are heroes. They are the quiet heroes. The heroes we never hear about. They go about their lives practicing random acts of kindness never expecting anything in return.
They are ordinary people who live extraordinary lives. No big shot with everything has stepped up to offer this woman a job. No government agency has offered to assist her. They just tried to take her child away.
A homeless man who lost it all gave all. A man who has nothing gave everything. He stepped into the breach to turn his personal misery into salvation.
Chicago is the city of big shoulders. Mr. Jackson and this woman have the biggest shoulders of all. The woman’s child is learning a life lesson. One we should all take to heart. No one is so low that they cannot contribute something good to humanity.