Long Lost Frenchie!

I've written and spoken about my old buddy Frenchie a few times. He passed away a few years ago, and to me, he'll always be remembered as that sweet, mysterious gentleman who quietly sat on Uptown's stained sidewalks. Everyone loved him and wanted to see him to move from Wilson's cold hard pavement into his own crib!

That eventually happened! Frenchie maneuvered from the streets, through Cornerstone Shelter, to a subsidized apartment in Friendly Towers, until he eventually made the ultimate move and graduation to his resurrected body and celestial home!

A more complete version of Frenchie's story can be found in something I wrote, back in 2013: Rest In Peace Frenchie. I consider myself extremely blessed to have known this gentle, kind man; and that's why I wrote what I did!

Yet, today, I'm not rewriting another remembrance; I'm writing about an unexpected surprise, something that truly blessed me!

There's always mystery when I get to know someone experiencing homelessness like Frenchie; picture a person who's older, lonely, very shy and incredibly private. Frenchie didn't speak of his past, and therefore, we didn't know of any family. All we knew was, because of his accent, he'd come from somewhere down south of Chicago and had somehow ended up homeless in my neighborhood, Uptown.

My job isn't to pry and prod into someone's past. I believe my responsibility was to simply love the person in my presence, show them the compassion and mercy of God's Kingdom, help them navigate from homelessness to housed and find the freedom we all seek.

The unexpected surprise was....
two of Frenchie's relatives from "down south" called me. They had discovered my blogpost online, read about their uncle and had been blessed by it. Just as his early life was vastly unknown to me, Frenchie's later whereabouts and story was a great mystery to his niece and nephew! 

During these 2 different phone calls, I had the honor of learning about my old buddy and how he vanished. I discovered how they loved him dearly and had tried to find him. In fact, on several occasions, they'd traveled north to Chicago to find their long lost relative, and unfortunately, they never found him! He had left a gap, but they had never been able to fill that gap. Frenchie's niece and nephew, along with his sister, needed closure and my blogpost and our phone conversations helped bring closure to a grieving family. 

It struck me to know, Frenchie wasn't rejected, but for some unknown reason, he disappeared from a family that truly cared and accepted him. Frenchie's story highlights the reality that homelessness is full of intrigue and mystery!

I knew Frenchie during his final years, and I don't believe he wanted to cause his family to grieve for decades. He had a beautiful heart and didn't want to hurt or bother anyone! I believe it would have upset him to know he caused grief amongst his loved ones! I believe, for some mysterious reason, Frenchie truly believed it would be best for everyone if he started afresh in the great city of Chicago! 

I was able to share with his family how we got him off the streets and how he found acceptance in the Uptown community. We, at Cornerstone and JPUSA, were able to give Frenchie a new family! We were able to give him love, and he certainly blessed all those he came in contact with. This small fragile man, who wanted to be invisible, certainly didn't know the positive impact he had in Uptown. Frenchie's kind, gentle and compassionate spirit resonated powerfully throughout our neighborhood, impacting both young and old! In a strange and mysterious way, Frenchie inspired people! He inspired me!

I was honored to to bring peace to Frenchie's family, by letting them know his final years weren't torturous, but he was surrounded by folks who loved him! The streets of Uptown may have given him many battle scars, but they also gave him hope, love, compassion, family and dignity! 

Frenchie's legacy should teach and inspire us all! Even when we want to disappear and be invisible, we are still noticed by and impact those around us and by Jesus, who invites us to sit in honorable places at His banquet table. Even when we think we're not important and insignificant, Jesus notices and wraps His loving arms around us, and boldly proclaims, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!"

My old buddy; until we meet again in our resurrected bodies, rest in peace!
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