Home and Heart

Mark Davis stood next to his chauffeured limousine watching as the dilapidated, forlorn little house was being prepared to be moved to his estate. The house was only three rooms and a bathroom. It had been empty and abandoned for over 20 years and was scheduled to be torn down until he bought it. As the truck was ready to drive away with the house, he turned to get into his limousine and observed the looks on the faces of his personal assistant, Raina, and his chauffeur, Gilbert. He smiled and got into the car.

He was one of the wealthiest men in town. He owned a conglomerate of businesses that employed almost half of the town. He had a ten- acre estate with a three- story custom-built house with a dual level infinity edge pool and custom landscaped grounds. He employed fifteen people to care for the house and the grounds. He had four closets of custom-made clothes and shoes as well as thousands of dollars of high-end jewelry. This hadn’t always been so in his life.

He had been born the fourth of six children to an alcoholic mother and a drug addicted abusive father. Homelessness, hunger and beatings were all that he knew. He often had to hide from the drunken or drug induced rages of his parents. Social services had finally removed him and his siblings from their parents, but foster care wasn’t any better for him. He rebelled at being made a servant by the people who were being paid to care for him. He was labeled an ungrateful delinquent. He ran away at the age of 12 from the home of a supposedly religious couple who said that they believed in love and kindness, but didn’t practice them. That was when he had met her.

He was hiding beneath her house to get out of a pouring rain storm. Her scrawny, little dog had alerted her to his presence. She had bent down to see him under her house.

“You can come out and come inside, dear,” she had said to him.

He was suspicious, but he had come out and followed her inside the house.

“My name is Matty Johnson. Are you hungry?” she had inquired after introducing herself and handing him a faded old towel to dry his face and head.

“Yeah, I’m hungry. My name is Mark,” he had replied looking around the tiny house with its furnishing that had seen better days.

Matty had shared her meal of beans, wieners and bread with him although it seemed barely enough food for her. Then, she had made him a bed on her couch. He had seen the bible on her coffee table and pushed it away. He had met enough bible thumping people who preached love and kindness, but didn’t practice it.

“Did you run away from a foster home?” Matty had asked him.

“Yeah. Those people don’t care about nothing but the money that they get and preaching about some so-called God’s punishment if you don’t let them make you a slave,” he had replied.

“True, sometimes, but do you know about God?” Matty had said to him.

“Ain’t no such person!” he had yelled angrily at her.

“Oh, my boy, I beg to differ with you. God is here for us all and answers our prayers. Some people just interpret the presence of God in the wrong way,” Matty had told him.

“How can you say that God answers prayers?! Look where you live!” he had objected to her words.

“Yes, look at where I live. I once lived on the streets, homeless. I slept under bridges and behind dumpsters hoping to be alive the next morning. If I didn’t get food at a shelter, I ate from dumpsters where restaurants threw away their leftovers for the day. Now I have a job that allows me to have this
little house where I sleep safe and I’m able to buy clean food to eat,” she explained to him.

“God gave you this place when you prayed for a place to live?!” he had exclaimed in disbelief that she thought that the shabby little house was a great place to live.

“God gave me what I could accept at the moment. As I am able to grow in my belief in His Goodness, I will receive more,” she explained to him. He didn’t believe it, but who was he to argue.

Matt didn’t call social services on him. She allowed him to continue to sleep on her couch and fed him. She bought him clothes at the thrift shop and demanded that he attend school. She encouraged him to decide what he wanted in life; to see it in his mind and believe it in his heart. He watched her get the job that she wanted and to one day buy the little house that they lived in. Then she had begun to repair it. She had even turned the attic into a room for him.

She had encouraged him to excel in school. He hadn’t been one of the genius students, but he studied diligently and graduated high school receiving a full scholarship to college. He had lived with Matty until he went away to college. He wrote to her weekly and continued to believe in God’s goodness just as Matty had taught him. He even got a job while in college so that he could send her little gifts of gratitude for all that she had done for him. He had sent her a train ticket and rented a hotel room for her so that she could attend is college graduation. Unfortunately, she had died a year later and never got to see him become one of the wealthiest men in town. His success was a dream that started with her encouragement of a scared, ragged, abused little boy to dream and believe in God and that dream.

A reporter once asked him what home meant to him after he had built his three-story house. He had thought about that question. He had thought about Matty. Home was a place of love and kindness; she had shown what love and kindness really was. Home was a place of safety and warmth; she had shared her place of safety out of the cold and danger with him. Home was a place where dreams were born, encouraged and nurtured. That tiny house that Matty had shared with him was home. It held all of the feelings of God’s Love that Matty had taught him. That little house would be set on his estate and he would restore it to the little white cottage that Matty had wanted it to be. It was home in his heart place.