I have been debating whether I should share this picture or not. Mostly because I don’t want you to focus on what I did because the point of the story is NOT about what I did here.
I sincerely believe true kindness and generosity towards another person is done from the heart and not for recognition. That’s why I wasn’t going to share it. I was just going to tuck this experience in my heart and treasure it myself always.
But today I feel different. I want you to meet my friend Michael. He changed my life.
What you can’t see in the picture is Michael’s legs are missing from the knees down. We met by chance on the streets of Minneapolis last week…
It was my first day in the city when I left my friend at Target to shop. I was walking alone to the hotel when I heard the words “excuse me mam, would you like to dance?”
Surprised I turned around to see a man, without legs, in a wheelchair. He smiled and repeated, would you like to dance? So I turned around, took his hand, and we had a little dance. He had no sign and didn’t ask for money. He just let go of my hand and thanked me for the dance.
A couple days later I was on my phone, not paying attention, and again, I heard the words “excuse me mam, would you like to dance.” We had our dance, said goodbye, and he never asked me for anything.
The next morning we headed for breakfast before our departure, and I saw him on the other side of the street. It was Father’s Day. I wondered if he was a father. I couldn’t stop thinking about him while we were eating. I wondered how someone ends up there and what his story was.
On impulse, I asked the waitress to make me a to go breakfast to give to this man. We went outside the restaurant, and to my disappointment, he was no longer in the spot we saw him. I so wanted to meet him and gift him breakfast.
Then my friend said “Corliss look” and there he was, head down sitting to my right. I approached him and said “excuse me sir, would you like to dance?” He looked up with the most beautiful smile and we had our dance.
I told him I was thinking about him and before I left I wanted to know his story. He was so kind to share.
Turns out he was born in Chicago in the projects. His mother was tossed out a second story window when he was a child and “she lived, but was never the same again. She couldn’t take care of me and my two brothers.” His one brother was killed in a gang shooting and his other brother overdosed.
He lost his legs in a police shooting where the bullets came through the glass window and hit him on the street. “They couldn’t save my legs”
I asked him if he was a father and he said he had 5 children but didn’t know where they were. I could see the sadness in his eyes when he talked about them.
When I asked him where he stays he said “don’t worry, I have somewhere to stay. I go to the Salvation Army. Sometimes I don’t sleep there because the people there can be crazy, and no good, so I sleep in that parkade or in the park.”
This was his norm.
I told him about the conference I was at and that I teach, and believe, we all have the power to change our lives and choose a different direction. He agreed and said “I got a goal. I’m going to get a place I can stay.”
He said, “I know I’m still on this side of the ground for a reason and I’m gonna try to get a place to live.”
Michael didn’t know it, but inside the bag was breakfast, but also some money. He never once asked for a hand out and when I told him what was inside he smiled and said “thank you mam, but I just wanted a dance”
I gave him my card and told him to save one of those dollars so he could email me when he met his goal.
Michael is 65 years old.
In meeting him I realize so many things…
One person, no matter their situation, can impact another persons life. I will never forget him.
That whenever I feel like my life is hard, I need to look out at the rest of the world and ask myself if my problems are really problems.
Everyone has a story and we must try not to judge another until we understand it.
As we walked away I looked back to wave and Michael was smiling, waving my card and said “I’m gonna surprise you.”
I can’t wait for that day.