December 8, 2010
I witnessed the saddest thing at the airport on Monday that I cannot erase from my mind. While Don and I were in the Honolulu airport at 6:00am, waiting for our plane, we bought a cup of coffee and sat in one of the chairs. Don walked away for a moment and I looked up to see an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair very slowly pushing himself with his feet towards the gate area. I assumed that he was with someone and they would be meeting up with him soon, so I never gave it another thought.
Since I knew that I would be sitting for the next five hours, I strolled through the terminal a few times to get some exercise in. With just a few moments left before boarding I walked over to our gate where Don was waiting. The early sun was shining on the seat right next to Don, so I sat across the aisle facing him. Behind Don was a glass petition and far off at another gate sat this man in the far corner all by himself, staring out at the tarmac. His back was to us, so I couldn’t see his face, but I was so moved by how alone he looked. I was dancing in my seat wondering if I could make it all the way over to him just to say hello and make it back to board my plane. I was arguing with myself whether I could do it and opted that I better not try. I could just kick myself!
I couldn’t wait to get home and see Bill who I call “My little Old Man.” Bill is an 88 year old veteran that has become my friend in the last three years. He isn’t so small, he is about 6’3. We met by chance at the church which is directly across the street from the mobile home he lives in. He has been divorced from his wife since 1986 and has not talked to her in 24 years. He is legally blind, but can see enough to walk to the store or take a bus to the doctor. He has some health issues and been in the hospital numerous times. He has given me keys to his place and has finally allowed me to clean his house. He thinks he cleans adequately because he can’t see, but I can. I used to do it once in awhile, then every few months, but it has become every other week, if not every week. I want to make sure that he has food in the refrigerator.
He can be very cantankerous at times, but I have fallen in love with him. Last year I invited him over for Thanksgiving Dinner and he refused. I showed up at his door anyway because I couldn’t stand for him to be alone, and he shouted, “Holidays are for family and I am not family!” as he slammed his door in my face. I left in tears. At Christmas I tried again, and he came! He met the dogs, saw our house, and when he sat down in a chair, Malia, our two year old granddaughter, crawled right up on his lap and sat there! It was the first time in years that he has been hugged! It has taken him almost a year to let me hug him! Can you imagine?
He calls me every day to give me Bible verses to read. Sometimes it is at 4am or 6:15am or on good days he waits till 7:30! But I cherish those calls. I want him to have his dignity, so I help him in every way, he will allow. I have helped him with his three bills that he pays. He insists on doing his own laundry and his own grocery shopping. He calls me when he gets back from a trip to Loma Linda to see his doctor. He will not allow me to take him yet, for he gets a free ride because he is a veteran. The only problem is that he has to wait for everyone in the van to go to their appointments, so sometimes he is there all day even though his appointment was at 10:00am.
Last month, he called rather late after returning from Loma Linda. I answered and said, “Bill, where have you been?” I was startled by his answer. He proceeded to tell me that he had been down at the police station. Of course, I thought maybe he had been robbed, but he had been arrested! He was arrested for bank robbery. A local bank had been robbed the prior week and he resembled the suspect. They cuffed him, took him to the station, strip searched him, went through his things, and searched his house. He kept asking them to call me, but they would not. Needless to say, I was ready to go on a rampage with the Police Department.
Now to explain the story…… A few weeks before this a bank in Palm Springs had been robbed. When it came on the news that night and they aired the bank video tape, I flew across the room and said “Don, doesn’t that look like Bill?” But as I got closer to the TV I could tell it was not, because Bill had some cancer removed from the side of his face and I knew it was not him. But the suspect wore the same type of hat that Bill does, he had the same type of sunglasses and the robber even had a cane!
When Bill returned from Loma Linda earlier that day, he had the driver drop him off at his grocery store. He got his sit down cart and went straight to the back of the store to use the restroom. When he came out there were five police officers waiting for him. They cuffed him and took him outside. They took him to the hospital to have him checked out and then the police department. They detained him for most of the day, but returned him home and that is when he called me. I was not able to get any information about his case, except that he had been arrested. We had to obtain a criminal lawyer!
Prior to leaving for our appointment at the law offices, a clerk from the grocery store came by his home to check on him. She told him that two bank tellers were in the store at noon when he happened to come in. They saw him out of the corner of their eye and panicked that he was the robber, so they called 911. The story was finally beginning to make sense! The charges have since been dropped and everything is good. We can finally smile but not yet laugh about it. What an ordeal!
I am able to tell him I love him and he told me he loved me for the first time last month! Isn’t that priceless? Teenagers and young adults have always won my heart but this Senior Citizen has taken over! It just makes me sad how many seniors there are out there that have no one. They just need to hear a voice, or feel that someone cares. Possibly they need to be touched for the first time in years! Reach out, because there is someone who may need you. I am completely convinced that this “Rausch Clan” needs Bill as much as Bill needs us.
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3