Because you give, Bob has a place to lay his head
When you see a homeless man on the street, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? “Why doesn’t he get a job? I bet he’s drunk oraddicted to drugs. He’s probably mentally ill.” You might even wonder how that man became homeless. It’s an interesting question to consider, but not one that is often given more than a second thought.
Bob is homeless. He works when he can. He’s never done drugs. He was never an alcoholic and hasn’t had a drop of alcohol in over 30 years. Bob’s never been to jail and he’s not mentally ill. You’re probably asking yourself, “Then why is Bob homeless?” Here is Bob’s story.
“I was raised on a farm in South Dakota,” says Bob. “At 18 my dad told me I would have to pay rent or move out. I’d spent years working on that farm and never got paid for it; I decided to pack my bags and move. My dad was abusive and an alcoholic. I was glad to leave.”
College Grad, World Traveler
Bob graduated from high school, was offered scholarships to three different colleges and chose to attend the University of Texas on a baseball scholarship. In his sophomore year he enlisted in the Navy. He had top-secret clearance and worked on a nuclear submarine. Bob was stationed in Hawaii and traveled the world. He’s been to France, Germany, England, Scotland, Denmark, Australia, Guam and Brazil…just to name a few.
“The Navy fighter jet pilots needed to keep up flying hours, so they’d take trips all over,” shares Bob. “They would charge us $1 to rent a parachute. Thankfully, I never needed to use it.”
After serving four years, Bob returned to the University of Texas where he received a championship ring in baseball and earned a degree in accounting. After graduation he worked for a CPA handling the Houston Rockets’ account. Soon Bob realized he preferred being outside instead of behind a desk.
“I’ve enjoyed my life. At times it has been difficult, but God has seen me through it.”
“I started my own construction business,” shares Bob. “I enjoyed being my own boss. I got to be outside and could easily move when I wanted to. I lived in New Mexico for seven years. I moved back to Texas and worked there for nine years. Eventually, a former Dallas Cowboys football player invited me to California where I worked for him building extremely high-end houses near San Francisco for the next seven years.”
Life, Loss and Tragedy
Bob’s dad committed suicide shortly after Bob got out of the service. Eventually, his mom remarried. “I’ll never forget her calling to ask me if it was okay for her to get remarried,” recalls Bob. “She was a strict Catholic and was questioning whether or not it would be okay to remarry. The man who wanted to marry her was a friend of the family. He had been a bachelor all his life. I really liked him and was happy to give my blessing.”
Over time, Bob experienced numerous losses. His mom developed Alzheimer’s and lived with it for 12 long years. The last eight years of her life, she as unable to speak. “I struggled with why God would allow my mom to suffer in her marriage to my dad, then to marry a man who loved her and treasured her, only to develop Alzheimer’s and not be able to enjoy the last years of her life.”
“The Mission has served me well. They’ve been here for me during a very challenging time in my life.”
Bob’s brother died from AIDS and when his sister’s husband got sick, Bob moved to North Carolina to help her take care of him. He died three years later. Two years after that, Bob’s sister died of a heart attack.
“I was married once, long ago,” shares Bob. “We divorced after five years. I almost remarried. She was an amazing woman who had survived breast cancer and was cancer free for ten years. We were planning to marry after Christmas. But the cancer came back with a vengeance and she died the day before Thanksgiving.”
Bob’s life reads like an adventure novel in some areas, but in others, it’s a tragic story filled with loss and sadness. With all of his family now deceased, Bob headed to North Carolina where a friend he grew up with now lived. Two years ago, Bob and his friend took a road trip. While in Nashville Bob’s friend disappeared, leaving him stranded.
“What happened to my friend remains a mystery,” says Bob. “He is married and has four kids, but to this day, no one has seen or heard from him. His car has never turned up. Nothing. It’s really bizarre.” Bob didn’t have anywhere to go or anyone to turn to, so he started walking. Someone told him about the Nashville Rescue Mission.
“I have never been homeless,” shares Bob who is 64 years old. “I’ve always worked, paid my bills and taken care of myself. After arriving at the Mission, I started trying to figure out what to do. It’s weird, but because I don’t have issues with drugs or alcohol and I’m not mentally ill, I sort of fall through the cracks. I don’t have a lot of options. At least not until I turn 65. At that point, I can start drawing my social security.”
Bob has only a few more months before that happens, so in the meantime, he works day labor jobs and sleeps at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Bob likes reading the Bible and enjoys having lively discussions with the chaplains related to various biblical topics. Bob also volunteers to help with the bed line each evening.
“I’m glad I have a safe place to stay, nutritious food to eat and clean clothes to wear,” shares Bob. “I’m grateful for the Nashville Rescue Mission. But I’m also looking forward to the day I can move into my own place, cook my own meals and take care of myself again.”