Someone that I believe has leadership abilities and is a strong leader is my grandfather, retire Florida Highway Patrolman Walter Kenneth Harsey. He served our great state for 33 years, until he was forced to retired due to his age. To this day he is one of the most respected Highway Patrolmen. He is most commonly known as "The Legend" within the Highway Patrol community, but to me he's "Nandaddy."
It has been a couple of years since I met this man. I don’t even remember his name, but what I do remember was having to go to my lawyers office and I was in a pretty bad mood that morning. As I was going through a very messy divorce and feeling very defeated. I was running out of money to pay my lawyer and was on my way to hand him $2,000, that I had worked so hard to get. The man in the picture was standing on the street corner with his sign begging for help. He was a veteran and homeless. All his belongings fitting in one very old army duffel bag. Well I went on to my lawyers office and when I left the man was still there. I parked my car and walked up to the man and asked him if he’d like to eat lunch with me. We were just a few feet from Mission BBQ. We walked in and I remember him looking at me as if he wanted to know what was okay to order. I told him to get whatever he wanted. He did and asked me if he could have a brownie that was sitting by the registered next to some cookies. I told him to grab two and I grabbed a couple of cookies and handed them to him. He quickly tucked them in his bag. We got our food and had a seat. While we were sitting there eating the Mission BBQ staff kept stopping by our table and telling him thank you for his service. It’s just something they do there. After a while the man began to cry telling me thank you for his lunch and that I was the best thing since sliced bread. (His words)Needless to say he had not been shown any kindness in a very long time, which had us both crying. He showed me his metals he had received during his service and he tried to give me one, to show his appreciation. I told him thank you but no I couldn’t take his metal. I remember one was the Purple Heart, one was specifically for the Vietnam War, and I think the other was the metal of valor. He even told me about meeting President Eisenhower, which is nothing like you think it would be. We talked for a while he asked about me. I told him I was going through a divorce and was headed to my lawyers office when I saw him. I explained to him that I had spent my last bit of money on our lunch until I get my next paycheck. He started crying again and telling me thank you. I said it was fine and that I’d be okay, for him not to worry about it, that he had been the best lunch date I had in a while. He just cracked up laughing then. He asked me why I was getting a divorce, to which I told him. His eyes filled with tears as mine did as I talked. He told me my ex was stupid to let me go and asked me if I wanted him to take “care” of him. I laughed and said no it wasn’t worth all that. He explained to me that he had been waiting on Veteran Affairs to help him get a place to stay. He had been staying at the homeless shelter, but had maxed out the amount of days he was allowed to stay there. Finally our lunch came to an end. He hugged my neck, told me thank you and went back to the street corner he was standing on. I don’t advice everyone to do this and honestly I had never done it before. I just felt something pulling at my heart strings when I saw him. I haven’t seen him since, but I often wonder how he’s doing and if he’s okay. I share this picture every year when it shows up on my timeline. Maybe one day our paths will cross again someday. I pray that things worked out for him and that all is well.
I have been blessed with two beautiful smart children, who my whole world revolves around. Well just the other day 14 year old son comes home from school with the biggest grin on his face. He jumps in the car and starts telling me how a girl at school had asked him to the 8th grade formal. She apparently asked him in front of one of his friends. Well naturally he said yes. He even confirmed with the girl the next day, to make sure. All of a sudden he cares about his looks and brushing his hair and teeth. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my son pay such close attention to his appearance. It’s amazing what girls can do to a teenage boy. Well a couple of day pass and Friday afternoon roles around. I get a text from my son, “Well I’ve got bad news.” Naturally, I get concerned. He begins to tell me the girl that had asked him to formal, came back and told him it was all a joke. He proceeded to tell me he was embarrassed. Of course, I told him not to be, that he didn’t do anything to be embarrassed about. I never saw myself in a million years as the mom that cries when their kids feelings are hurt. I’m usually this tough, strong willed, independent woman. Well I cried like a baby. I was so hurt that someone would treat my son that way. He’s such a friendly kid, loves to make people laugh, a little goofy at times, but surely didn’t deserve that. Not to mention he’s a good looking kid. Well my son and this girl have been friends for a few years and he asked me not to say anything, because he wants to remain friends with this girl. What I don’t understand is, if it was a joke then why didn’t she say so right then when she asked him. She let him walk around for days thinking they were going to formal together and he even confirmed it with her the next day after she asked him to go with her. Here I was making sure that he is going to treat her right and not back out on her and she does it to him. What’s even worse is he had no intention to even go to formal until she asked him, now he doesn’t want to go at all. What is a mother to do, when he’s asked me not to say anything? I just ask my son to give the girl space and leave her alone, for a while. I asked him to sit back and watch how she acts and treats him from here on out. As much as I love my son, I will give it some time to pass over, but if anything else comes from this I won’t just stand by. I don’t want to hurt my son’s feelings anymore then they already are, but her actions were not those of a friend, in my opinion. I never treated my guy friends like that, when I was their age. I’ve never treated a anyone like that and I certainly wouldn’t allow my son or daughter to treat someone that way either. By far being a mom and loving my children so much has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I learn new things about myself everyday as they are growing up so fast. God please give my strength, because I don’t think anything hurts worse then seeing your baby hurt.