Young man and woman giving food to a homeless man.

The Forgotten

"Tell them, sir. Tell them we exist. Promise to remind them about the forgotten."

I can remember vividly the moment I heard those words.

I was in Saint Louis, there to do a presentation. I don't often wander around big cities when I travel. I get out, but not very far.

I'm not afraid, it is simply a personal choice. It's because my wife isn't with me. If it's a place we have not seen together, I feel empty inside. Me looking at the world and her not there beside me.

When I return and tell her of some of the things I've seen I know she is happy for me, but I'm not.

On that day, in that city, I did choose to see the Arch. It was a test for me. I have developed this fear of heights. Not so drastic that I will not stand on my front roof, but enough to make me aware that the only thing that separates me from down there may be a pane of glass or a handrail. I don't avoid it, I simply approach it very slowly. Very slowly.

I took the ride to the top of the Arch.

It was worth the test and the time it took to convince myself.

But it was my walk back to the hotel that proved to me there was a greater reason for this journey out.

I was about to cross the street when someone yelled, "Watch out!" A small van was backing out of a driveway right where I was standing. I jumped out of the way. I just wasn't paying attention.

I looked around wondering who shouted to me.

That's when I saw him. Our eyes connected briefly as he raised his hand and I waved back in thanks. I could have simply continued on, but I was drawn to him. I needed to say thanks in person.

He was curled up in a ball leaning against the side of a building down this small side street. The air was warm, the sun only visible at either end of this street, blocked by the massive buildings.

I've experienced this before, the smell, the appearance of another human being left homeless by choice or circumstance. It never stops me, but the memory of it lingers in my heart.

"Thank you!" I said. He simply waved his hand at me in acknowledgement.

"I didn't see the..." he interrupted me.

"Do you have any change?" he asked.

"Are you hungry? Can I get something for you?"

I asked that because all too often the money they seek is not for food or a simple cup of coffee as suggested. They save it up for alcohol or drugs. If I can help I want to feed their body and spirit not their addiction.

Surprisingly, he accepted and I slipped into a nearby deli to buy him something to eat and drink.

He was grateful as he ate part of the ham sandwich, storing the rest in an inside pocket for another time.

He talked and I listened. He asked me what I did and I explained that I was a writer and a speaker.

Then, just before I left he said it. Words that hung on me like a weight around my shoulders for years after.

"Tell them, sir. Tell them we exist. Promise to remind them about the forgotten."

"The forgotten." Oh, my God how incredibly sad to think that any human being would feel "forgotten."

But I know it to be true. I am guilty of it, too, even though I made that promise to him that day.

I am reminded of him at this time of year as food drives and fundraisers appear on the news. I see his face in the people lined up outside the Salvation Army for their bag of "Thanksgiving" given generously by those who have to those who have not.

I remembered him recently when I sent a check to an area rescue mission last week. But I am the guy who says we should be happy with "enough" knowing all too well that for millions, "enough" never comes.

So, today I am asking you to join me. Imagine for a moment that you are standing there with me, in Saint Louis talking to this man as he says..

"Tell them, sir. Tell them we exist. Promise to remind them about the forgotten."

Will you promise him, too?

"I wish you enough!"
~ Bob Perks ~

Good news - Bob Perks' first book, "I Wish You Enough," Embracing Life's Most Valuable Moments... is now available for ordering. Here's the "Link" to get your copy of Bob's book: I Wish You Enough from
[ by: Bob Perks Copyright © 2009 ( -- {used with permission} ]

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