Never Asking For Himself

A few years after we had started our home on Market Street, Tyrone came to us looking for help.  He was a pre-teen and youngest of four children who had lived with their mother, but they lost their home and the mother left the area to find work and a home. This boy had heard about a church lady who was helping people in the area and that we were a safe place.  After talking with me, not only did he move in that day, but so did his siblings.  At this point Social Services wasn’t sure how to classify us, but they worked with the mother who signed papers so we could take care of the children legally, until she was able to provide for them again . During this time period, affordable housing was difficult to find and waiting lists were years long.

The mother often came back to see the children, and she worked hard for two years to get another home for them. Tyrone was the youngest, but he was the one who was aware of each family member's needs.  He made sure I got counseling for one sibling who had mental health needs, and home schooling for all of them since the school system was failing at the time. Social Services kept in touch with the mother, who always made the final decisions for her children.

The kids were with us for about two and a half years, so we had two Christmases with them. The whole time that Tyrone was with us, his only wish was that his mom would get a house so they could be together again. Even at Christmas, this was all he would ask for, but made sure his siblings got nice gifts.

One Christmas, one sibling kept looking for a present from her mom under the tree, really needing to see a gift from her. I had received a beautiful piece of jewelry, and Tyrone suggested I give it to the sibling, but tagging it as from their mother. Another Christmas, they all received new sets of bedding. During the two years we also got other furniture so when they moved to that new home, they would have whatever they needed.

Tyrone saw me as his mother now -- the mother he wanted his mom to be. When their mother had a place for them, and it was time to leave, he didn't want to go. The counselors worked with his mom and us, to help him see that his mother was there for him. As part of this transition, I had to make him go with his mother, telling him "Your mother is back and you must leave now." He got angry at this, saying that I was betraying him. Saying what I had to say broke my heart.  I let his mother know that we would always be here for all of them, like family. He didn't contact me for more than 20 years.

Tyrone had told me that his dreams were to learn to read, graduate high school, learn to drive, get a college degree, and get married (no kids). In other words, he wanted a stable life. He was having some difficulties recently, so a friend told him to call the people at the house on the hill with Jesus painted on the wall.  He had forgotten about us, but he then recalled how we helped him, so he called us.  He did graduate high school and is 2 credits away from a college degree, has three children, can drive and has a car and has lived in the same house for the past 12 years.  His one child has special needs. He was looking for new beds for his kids since the old ones had fallen apart.  He still wasn’t asking for anything for himself, but necessities for his children.

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