A THANKSGIVING STORY
SILICON VALLEY-- On the early evening of this particular Thanksgiving Day, when inside the warm houses turkeys baked in the ovens, and the family members moved around the dinning room setting the elaborate dishes on the tables, in the East-side of the city, sitting on a park's bench, a homeless man, eating a stale cheese sandwich, saw a Latino man, who was struggling to walk, approaching him.
The man was young, not bad looking, no taller than than five feet and four inches, and he was dressed in blue jeans, and a heavy jacket. He was carrying a rolled a newspaper in his left hand and on his back, a heavy backpack, because he appears to he was struggling with its weight as he walked.
"Do you want to sit down?" asked the homeless man as he passed in front of him sliding to the other end of the bench. The man stopped. "Thanks," was the man's answer. "I think I will. I am exhausted. I have been walking all day."
When the man got closer to him, the homeless man became aware of the man's sunken cheeks and that he has no sparkle in his big brown eyes. "You look sick." he said, as the man was removing his backpack and placing it on the floor. "I am. Very sick." was the man's answer, " And the reason is that when my company in San Francisco was sold, the new owner decided to fire half of the technicians, and when I lost my job I could no longer afford the very expensive pills I need to survive, or even go to a doctor, because I lost my insurance.
"I'm glad I am healthy," said the homeless. "Are you from San Francisco? "
"No." said the man. "My name is Mateo Gomez, I'm American now, but I was born in Mexico and came to San Francisco, with my mother, when I was six. I grew up in San Francisco and I love the city, but I couldn't find a job there, so I decided to come to San José, the heart of Silicon Valley."
"What type of job is your looking for?" asked the homeless. "Computers Programmer," he replied. "I am good Programmer." He sat down on the bench and stretched his legs. "Do you still have family in San Francisco?" asked the homeless. "No. When, my mother brought me here, she came alone and supported us working as a waitress. But my mother had the same cancer I have. She died when I was twelve, so I became a foster child. I'm now twenty eight, and I have been living alone, for years, which suits me fine, 'cause I am shy. That's why I am having problems finding another job." Both remained silent for a while.
"Are you aware that today is Thanksgiving?" He ask" The homeless looked at him. Thanksgiving means nothing to me," he said bitterly."I have nothing to be thankful for."
"We all have something we should be thankful for" said Mateo. The homeless man became defensive, "Oh Yea? he shouted, "What do I Have? " "Your health," said Mateo, "which is a treasure, because it is something that no money can buy." The homeless man looked thoughtful for a while. "Yeah, I'm healthy so maybe I got something. My problem is that I don't believe in nothing religious or in a Supreme Being ruling the world. .
"I do. answer Mateo. You do?" asked the homeless in shock, "How could you? You lost your mother, your job, probably your apartment, your health insurance, and even your health. I think that you have nothing to be grateful for today."' Mateo stared at him smiling. "You are wrong. I I have two things to be grateful for. The first thing is this newspaper that I found tossed on a garbage can, and the second thing is that when I was reading it I read that a Protestant church here, was serving free Thanksgiving lunches to people like us So, I went to the church's dinning room, waited in line, and an hour later, for the first time in three days, I could eat a hot meal, including dessert." The homeless man stared at him shaking his head.
It was beginning to get dark so Mateo stood up, and picked his back pack in one hand. "Where are you going?" asked the homeless man. "to the park across the street. to lie my sleeping bag on the lawn under a tree and still be able have enough light to check the list of jobs listed in the newspaper. I really need a job."
As he was putting his back pack on his back, both men were approached by a man, who look like middle Eastern, He was tall, slender, with shoulder length -brown hair and a short beard and had a compassionate look in his bluish eyes. Because the man was dressed in a white cassock, the men determined that he must be either a Church's minister, or a priest.
Speaking with a soft, well-modulated voice he said to Mateo. "I overheard your conversation. and If you are looking for a job, I may have a job for you." Mateo stared at him. "In High tech?" he asked, because I am a "Computers' programmer. "Not in high tech," said the man but similar." Mateo was curious by the man's answer. "To program what?" "People." was the man's answer. "Do you mean brainwash them?" asked Mateo. "No. Just suggest that they need to become grateful for the little things they take for granted now. Such as having a roof over their heads,, enough money to buy groceries, good health, a family, friends, a job, love...and take a few minutes every day to Thank the Lord, before meals, for these things, and not only on Thanksgiving. Because only when we train ourselves to become aware of our blessings, we start recognizing them, and realize that every day of our lives, we receive a blessing from God" Mateo stared at the man. shaking his head. "I could never do that" he said. " I can't go around talking with strangers. because I'm very shy. So, thank you very much for your offer, but that job is not for me. What you need is a preacher, "
As the Minister walked away, Mateo finished adjusting his backpack over his shoulders, crossed the street and walked to the other side of the street. From his bench, the homeless observed Mateo, who after he reached the park, removed his backpack from his back, unpacked his sleeping bag, unrolled it on the lawn under a tree. sat on it, and with his back against the trunk of a tree, began reading his newspaper.
The next day, on the first page of the Local newspaper, There was an article about a San Francisco's homeless man by the name of Mateo Gomez, who the night before had been found dead under a tree at a local park. The article was written by a Journalist who while walking to a parking lot to get his car around 9PM on Thanksgiving Day, had been approached by a homeless man, who had asked him to use his cell phone to call the local Police Department to report that there was a dead man in the park.
When waiting for the police to arrive, the journalist began asking question to the homeless man, and taking notes on everything that he said had happened that afternoon at the park between him and the dead man. His transcription was published as an article, the next day. The article ended with the verbatim words, of the homeless man, who had refused to give his name. who had told him:
"You know, the whole thing was so unreal. And what even is more weird is that the minister, or priest, or whoever that man was, who asked Mateo to go around encouraging people to thank God not only on Thanksgiving, but every day, will actually spread around his message through Mateo, because, it was after Mateo died, that I met you, and you happened to be a journalist who got interested in my story and decided to write it, and publish it in your newspaper. And when you do, the Minister's message to give God thanks daily for "something" because every day we receive a blessing from Him" will be be known by many."
Copyright © 2022 by Iride Aparicio