Yesterday afternoon, Doyle and I met “Pops” aka Roscoe, a 61 year-old Vietnam veteran who lives under the bridge on Mason Road just south of Kingsland Boulevard (behind the Sears store). Roscoe had recently loaned his bicycle to a guy named Terry, a 36 year-old homeless man who stopped by the church looking for help. Terry said that he had stopped by another church but that they didn’t help him. Instead, they told him to go to Kingsland. Terry needed to get to Humble so Doyle called a cab to take him closer to his estranged family.
Before getting in to the cab, Terry asked Doyle to take the bicycle back to Pops. So, we tossed the bicycle into the back of his truck and set off in search of Pops. We found him sitting on a filthy mattress under the Mason Road bridge. Pops had just opened a can of beer and greeted us with a handshake. When we told him we had come to deliver his bicycle, he was really happy and thanked us for “doing the Christian thing.”
We spent the next hour talking with Pops and listening to his stories, each of which gave us a little more insight into his life. Pops has been living under the bridge for four-years but spends the winter under another bridge that is more sheltered. He talked about a near-death experience in Vietnam in which he had a vision of Jesus. With tears in his eyes he said that he had begged Jesus to not let him return to earth. Jesus, Roscoe said, told him to return and assured him that he would find his purpose.
Coming home from Vietnam was not easy for Pops. He worked odd jobs but eventually settled into his life of homelessness. As for his purpose, Pops said that he has had many opportunities to talk with teenage kids that have found their way under the bridge. “I always tell them to stop stealing and doing dumb stuff and to get back in school or they might end up living a hard life, like me,” he said. Pops is homeless but at peace with what he believes to be his purpose. He sees his life as a warning to others.
I am really glad that we met Pops. Now that we know where he lives, we promised that we will visit him again, especially when the weather turns cold. Those of you who live in Katy may have seen Pops. He generally begs for help on the corner of Kingsland and Mason. He showed us his cardboard sign. Although he is homeless in Katy, he is able to survive only because of the kindness of others. So, the next time you see somebody holding a cardboard sign, don’t turn away. Your kindness will help them, beer notwithstanding, to make it through another day of tough challenges and uncertainties.