Lester "I Do Care"

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

I grew up in St. Louis, MO. A friend brought me here to Springfield, MO. It will be seventeen years this December since I’ve been here. I’ve been dealing with homelessness off and on for probably fifteen to twenty years. The hardest thing about being homeless is not having the reality of knowing whether you’re going to be safe or not. Whether you’re going to wake up or not. I’ve been homeless for awhile; homelessness is a cold, dark, lonely, non-loving place. It’s kind of like losing a loved one.

You walk out the door, go for a walk and you think about the things… the most thing that ever kept me going is when my mother died in my arms May 19, 1969. I was fifteen years old. My father was a drunk. He was a wife beater, child beater. When my mom died, us kids were just sitting at the kitchen table, my dad was there, my sister, my two younger brothers. She looked at me and said “Would you get me a glass of water?” So I got her a glass of water; as I walked toward her she fell into my arms and died. But I had listened to her beg my dad for hours to take her to the hospital…he kept telling her she had an appointment the next day. My dad was a rude, crude, cold hearted bastard. He could have prevented that. That really weighs on me.

I wish people knew that I do have a heart and I do care. I fall in love with people. Kind of like with this person right now. They kind of show that they care, but they don’t. They pretend to smile, joke around with you, have fun; their way of having fun. But it’s alright I guess. Have fun on somebody else’s dime or experience, and go from there.

My advice to others on living life to the fullest would be to make God your number one choice and your family your second. Your kids, your grandchildren. The people you haven’t seen since 1969, like my brothers and sisters. I’d kinda like to see the family. I haven’t even seen my kids since May of ’88. And it hurts. But at the same time you keep that hope and you keep that… maybe one day you’ll make everybody happy. That’s what I want to let the world see. Everybody can be happy. Even though it might be in your darkest seconds of the day. Or it might be on the brightest sunny day. You can be happy if you just let your mind go and let it be free. But you can still be in the same thought of mind. You just deal with it the best way you can. You deal with people the best way you can. Sometimes you would like to knock their block off… And sometimes you just want to look up, raise your hands and say “Thank you for the better place you gave me today”.

If there was just more love and kindness in this world, it would be a much better place… It would be. And I may not see it, but I hope my kids or my grandkids do. I love them until the day I die. I’ve never seen my grandkids. I only had my kids in my life for five years. I think of the things that could have been and should have been but they weren’t. And I think of the things I could have done better to make that happen. But it became too late. What the world needs is to really sit back and look at one another and have love, kindness and understanding. No matter who you are, no matter where you’re at.

(Story chronicled in 2017)