Last Sunday, August 21, marked the six months since my mother completed her purpose on earth and went to be with Jesus. Today, August 27, marks six months since her memorial service.
So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to make this post all about her…
My family has an on-going group text. It’s our central hub for sharing pictures and videos of my adorable nephews, hilarious memes, funny stories, good news, not-so-good news, and our favorite memories of my mom. One of my favorite texts is when we share something we did for someone else in honor of her. We even hashtag it with #whatmommawarewoulddo .
My mom had the most generous heart of anyone I’ve ever known. You can ask anyone that knew her and they’d confirm that to be true. But, other than her family, there were three things that pulled her heart strings:
- Animals (She loooooooooved cats)
- People who serve in the military
- The homeless
And, she meet someone who embodied all three… His name was Marlon.
Marlon was walking down the opposite side of the street from the direction my mom was driving. It was obvious he was homeless, but what stood out to her was that he had a pit-bull with him. She made the next available U-turn, but wasn’t able to find him. That night, she told me about him with tears in her eyes. Not that it ever took much for my mom to cry, but it was obvious her heart broke for the man and his dog.
Little to our knowledge, she would go out driving in hopes of finding him again. After much dedication and a couple week’s time, she finally found him and his pit-bull around the same area at the same time of day. Right there, in the Coliseum Crossing parking lot, my mom made a new friend in Marlon.
Marlon was a tall, black man, early forties, and a disabled military veteran with quite a story… After suffering from war related PTSD, he wasn’t able to hold down a job, thus leaving him and his dog to sleep on the streets. There you have it, folks… A homeless war veteran with a dog. The heart strings trifecta. But, what touched her heart the most was he refused to stay in a shelter because they wouldn’t let him bring his dog. Needless to say, Marlon and his dog stayed in a motel that night and both had food to eat.
Her friendship with Marlon continued for a couple years. She would give him food, pay for shelter during bitter cold nights, his cell phone bill, take him to lunch with her co-workers, and brought him to the community dinner and mid-week services at our church. She even tried to get him to come to Sunday morning church services, but he didn’t feel like he was presentable enough.
Marlon would insist she didn’t have to do all this, but if you know my mom, when she’s decided to do something, there’s no stopping her. That’s one thing I both loved and less than loved about her. 🙂
But, my mom wanted to do more than just get him off the streets. She wanted him to have a chance to succeed. To make something of himself. She knew he had the drive and desire, but just needed someone to give him a much needed opportunity. So, you know what she did? Research. The woman didn’t even know how to check her Gmail account, but she somehow found a place in Northern Virginia that would take in and assist disabled military veterans helping them with counseling for their PTSD, interview preparation, and job placement. She was so excited to tell Marlon about it and when she did, he promised her he would apply and go as long as they let him bring his dog. (You know, I’m pretty sure she would’ve volunteered to foster his dog, but that would mean she would have to tell my dad that she was aiding a homeless man.)
My mom didn’t hear from Marlon for many months after that. His cell phone was out of service and he didn’t frequent his usual places. She hoped that meant he applied and was accepted into the program; however, she still spent weeks looking for him. Finally, she gave up, but she never stopped praying for him. Some days she would randomly start crying. When I asked her why, she’d say she was thinking about Marlon and hoped he and his dog were okay. And, whenever we were out and about town, she still kept her eye out for him.
I should mention during this three year period, my mother was battling Lymphoma and undergoing cancer treatments.
I’ll never forget looking down at my phone and seeing 22 missed calls from my mom. Immediately, I thought something terrible had happened. When I called her back, she was BALLING on the phone… I thought someone had died or worse, I thought she received even more bad news about her diagnosis. But, no — She had heard from Marlon, and his voicemail went something like this:
Mrs. Ware, it’s Marlon. I just wanted to tell you I’m okay. I applied and got into the program in Northern Virginia you told me about. They gave me a place to stay, cut my hair, gave me a shaving kit, gave me new clothes, helped me get a job, and found a foster home for my dog until I saved enough money to get my own place. You wouldn’t even recognize me, Mrs. Ware! I can’t tell you how thankful I am for all you’ve done for me. I hope you’re doing well.
That was the last time my mom heard from Marlon, but it wasn’t the last time she prayed for him, thought about him and cried when she talked about him.
I’d often wondered if I should let Marlon know she passed. After working on this post, I decided I should. I thought he’d want to know. I mean, I would want to know if I were him. So, I texted him…
Me: Hi, this is Lacey Ware. I am Sharon Ware’s daughter. Is this Marlon’s phone?
Me: I wanted you to know my mother passed on February 21 from Lymphoma (a blood cancer). She cared about you very much and thought you would want to know.
Him: I am so sorry. I cared a lot about her too. Give your family my regards. This world needs more wonderful people like her.
I couldn’t agree more, Marlon. If more people would do #whatmommawarewoulddo, this world would be a better place to live this side of eternity. And, I like to go as far as to think Heaven is even a better place because of her.
Picture taken Monday, February 15, 2016.