It was a little over a year ago when a homeless man, living out of his truck, came into our lives. More specifically, stumbled into our lives. As you may have heard previously, Sue spotted an elderly man shuffling his way through our housing development (Otter Creek) carrying a bag of groceries on a very hot summer day. What originated as a simple gesture to take a man home ended up being a God-sized involvement in a life.
Sue’s involvement in Scotty’s life was orchestrated by God. He was a nearly blind, elderly man who had virtually no family or anyone to care for him. He lived in his rundown truck and walked over 6 miles at least four days a week to get food for his cadre of dogs, sheep and cats. Sleeping in the leaky cab of a broken down truck amidst food and who knows what else is not my idea of “living the good life”. That was Scotty’s life. Enter Sue. With the help of others, Sue was moved enough by the Spirit of God to be Scotty’s “neighbor”. She didn’t settle with simply taking him to and from the store to pick up his food. She invested in his life—in eternity. She took it upon herself to see if he qualified for assisted housing and got him a place in a retirement complex. Our small group and other friends helped him move in last fall. And, for the first time in at least three or four years (and probably longer), Scotty had a bed to sleep on and a place to call his own.
Then, last February, Sue and another caring woman, Jennifer, had an 80th birthday party for Scotty. We invited a number of people over to help him celebrate his birthday. I was moved when he told us that this was the first birthday party he had EVER had.
Sue’s involvement didn’t stop there. Again, with the help of others, she shuttled him between his new home and his old so that he could feed his animals. Then, she was able to get his goats sold. That left the dogs to feed. Unfortunately, we could never get rid of those dogs. But, we just couldn’t bring it upon ourselves to put the only “friends” Scotty really had prior to us entering his life, to sleep.
In addition to his newfound friends, his neighbors helped look after him and his animals, too. Ultimately, it was the dogs that kept Scotty on the move. Though Sue had to reduce her chauffeuring frequency, she still had to get Scotty “home” to feed the dogs. As she cut back due to schedule conflicts, Scotty began to take a bus from his “new” home to the “dog palace” via a stop at a WalMart about 4-5 miles away. After walking approximately 8 miles round trip at least one or two times per week, he would board a return bus at that same WalMart and go home. Until today.
Yesterday, someone reported that an elderly man was laying face down in the street near the Otter Creek sign that greets all cars turning into our development. Sue got a call from a police officer that told her Scotty had died. Ironically, he was apparently walking the same route on his last day as when Sue spotted him and invested in him to help give him a better life.
The news of his death brought sadness and a few tears. Though we didn’t know him for long, he was an example of someone who just needed a helping hand. He said many times to me during my fill-in efforts at replicating my wife’s loving care, that she “saved his life”. I also know that Sue took the opportunity to share with him that there is only ONE who SAVES lives. Jesus. We don’t know the ultimate condition of his heart and where he was at spiritually on the day of his death but I’m so thankful that my wife showed me first hand what sacrificially loving your neighbor means. And, that he heard the message of Christ before he died. As the bible says, “Paul planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who makes the plant grow”. Sue planted and watered as did others (Kathi, Spencer, Jennifer, Steve, Laura, Tracey, Judy, Rodney, Judy and others) by sharing words and their lives. We pray that God caused this plant to grow.
I shed a tear thinking about Scotty and how he easily could’ve passed away, in the cab of his old truck, without anyone seeing him for days. Instead, he passed away doing what he had done so often before (walking to and from the store) and knowing that he was loved by others and by God. I’m glad we got to know you, Scotty. Good Bye.