Over the next hour, Julius told Hunter about his life. He had been born in the bad part of Chicago where the police were afraid to go and gangs ruled the neighborhood. His mother had gotten pregnant as a teenager and never finished high school. They lived with his grandmother and paid their bills with welfare checks. His mom had been the third generation in her family to live from one welfare check to the next. He had never known his dad but he heard from an uncle that he was killed in a gang shoot-out.
When word of his father’s death reached his mother, she sat him down and told him that she was not going to let that happen to him. She said that the cycle of poverty and violence she had lived with was going to end with the two of them. She packed up their few belongings that very day and walked him through the littered streets bordered by broken down cars. With head held high, she marched past the graffiti covered buildings with broken windows to the nearest bus station. His mother bought two tickets to Salt Lake City, which was as far as her meager funds would take them.
They rode through the night, changing buses once in Denver. Julius slept and his mother worried. She had never known anything but the south side of Chicago and living on government assistance. Could she really support herself and her child?
Just as the sun came up over the Wasatch Mountains, the bus pulled into the terminal. With trepidation, the young mother stepped off the bus, gripping her young son’s hand tightly, and looked around. What she saw shocked her. First, the air smelled so good. Second, the streets and buildings were clean and seemed to sparkle in the sun. The mountains to the east were enough to take your breath away as they rose sharply from the ground and seemed to guard the city with their mighty majesty. It was all so unlike anything she had ever seen, she thought they must have dropped into a fantasy world.
“Oh Julius, look at this,” she said as they walked down the wide streets. This was soon followed by, “Oh Julius, look at that.” Her excitement wasn’t exactly contagious, however, and Julius pouted as he dragged his feet and complained of being hungry.
A passerby heard the child’s whines and stopped them. “Can I help you?” the kind man said.
Immediately suspicious of all strangers, especially men, Julius’s mother scooped him up into her arms and said, “No, we’re fine.”
Not taking that for an answer, the man said, “On the corner is a wonderful café. Let me take you there and get you some great home cooking.”
“No really. We’re fine,” his mother insisted. But the man picked up her suitcase and gently guided her down the sidewalk. Perhaps it was this magical city or something about his kind manner, she didn’t know, but for some reason his mother followed the man to the café.
Before breakfast was over, the man knew their entire story. “I think I can help you,” he said.
“Oh, but you already have,” smiled Julius’s mother, truly grateful for his generosity.
The man smiled in acknowledgement of her gratitude but went on. “There’s an old saying. ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’”
Julius’s mother looked at him questioningly.
“It means I want to help you be able to take care of yourself and your son. I know a wonderful family that recently lost their mother to cancer. The poor father is beside himself with grief. He has been left alone with six children to raise. He could use a housekeeper and nanny. He would pay you and give you and your son a lovely place to live.”
“So, that is how we came to live with the Anderson Family in Salt Lake City,” Julius said. “My mother believed in miracles from that day on.”
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