In the bustling streets of California, there was a homeless man named Myers who had been wandering aimlessly for 30 years. He had no place to go, no family to turn to, and no identity to call his own. His life was a never-ending cycle of panhandling and sleeping on the cold hard ground. And to be honest, things had never really been great for him.
Born in 1950, he had been given up for adoption at the tender age of two. He was fortunate enough to be taken in by a kind couple in San Leonardo, California, where he grew up as an average high school student and played in the marching band. However, he could never get close to his family, and he and his siblings had a hard time getting along. The rest of the family saw him as an outsider, but he was particularly close to his mother who provided him with emotional and physical support.
His childhood struggles with feeling isolated and alone had a lasting impact on him as he got older and entered his teenage years. Myers found himself increasingly cut off from the world around him, becoming a quiet and introverted person. Despite his efforts to make connections and maintain friendships, he ultimately lost contact with most of the people he knew. The revelation that he was adopted at the age of 16 only furthered his sense of isolation and detachment from those around him. He distanced himself from his adoptive family due to the pain he felt, and not long after, his parents suddenly passed away.
With no real ties to his biological family and unable to maintain relationships with his siblings, Myers was left to navigate the world on his own as a young adult. He decided to take a job as a truck driver, delivering goods across the country. At first, it seemed like a great idea because it provided him with a way to escape the difficulties of social interactions. He even enjoyed the solitude that came with it. However, spending long hours on the road eventually started to take a toll on his mental health.
One day, while driving on the interstate highway, Myers got into an accident with two other cars. This impact forced him to go to the hospital, where he had to get emergency treatment. After the incident, he could no longer drive and had to use a wheelchair for more than a year before he was able to switch to crutches. Unfortunately, he was left with a disability that made it difficult for him to find and keep any job. He tried various industries, from manufacturing to the Department of Motor Vehicles, but was fired multiple times due to his health problems. He suffered from chronic back pain and couldn’t stand or drive for long periods, let alone lift or carry heavy objects.
The loss of his job only made things worse for him as he struggled to make ends meet. It seemed as though he was caught in a vicious cycle with no way out. He began panhandling and playing the guitar on the streets to make a bit of money to eat. Despite his efforts to earn a living through music or panhandling, the locals were not kind to him. For three long decades, Myers struggled to survive this way. His hope of ever getting off the streets slowly dwindled, and he began to accept the idea that he would die sooner or later without a roof over his head.
Little did he know, fate would soon be on his side. On his routine patrols in the neighborhood, Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell would encounter Myers from time to time. He had already warned him that he could not panhandle in the area, but he never listened and continued to do so. Swalwell had reached his limit and decided it was time to take action against Myers. He felt the need to make things official and thus filed a formal citation against him.
During their conversation, Swalwell asked him for his ID, only to find out that he didn’t have one. This sparked a conversation about Myers’s life, which revealed that he was not a criminal trying to cause trouble, but rather a senior citizen who had lost his family and had been homeless for 30 years. Swalwell was moved by Myers’s story and realized that he needed to help him. Unfortunately, the situation was complicated by the fact that he didn’t have an ID. This meant that he was unable to collect Social Security or any type of benefits, making it even harder for him to get off the streets.
Swalwell knew that getting Myers an ID was the first step towards helping him, so he vowed to make it happen. However, the process proved to be more difficult than they had anticipated. They first went to the DMV to apply for a government ID, where they were met with their first hurdle. The lines were long, and the process was complicated. Despite this, Swalwell was willing to do whatever it took to get Myers an ID.
When they arrived at the counter, they were told that he needed a long list of documents to obtain an ID, all of which he did not have. Moreover, that’s when the deputy sheriff discovered that Myers wasn’t even the man’s real name, but just a nickname that had been given to him by the locals. This would turn out to be a major problem in their quest to find his true identity.
Recognizing that his efforts alone were not enough, Swalwell reached out to his personal pastor to help Myers obtain the necessary documents for his ID. They worked together to track down Myers’s birth certificate, which proved to be a challenging task. However, with time and hard work, they eventually discovered his true identity. The birth certificate had Myers’s original name, Gordon Michael Oakley, and with it, the man could finally get the identification he needed.
The story of Swalwell and Myers, who now goes by his real name Gordon, soon became well-known in the local news, and a private investigator named Mark Askins became interested in helping Gordon track down his real family. Using his birth name and a box of old ledgers, Askins worked tirelessly to find any living relatives. Eventually, he was able to locate Gordon’s birth mother, Marie Poland Oakley. Her life had been one of hardships and adversity as well.
Marie’s life had taken a sharp turn after she married Wiley, a sailor she met at the age of 16. The couple had a quick romance before getting married in Reno, but things quickly fell apart. After that, they moved into a rundown cabin in Tennessee where Marie fell pregnant but struggled to make ends meet.
While he would give all his Naval pay to his mother, leaving Marie with nothing to support herself or their baby, the living conditions were abysmal. With no crib for the newborn child and the food locker placed on top of two chairs serving as a makeshift bed, Marie and her husband fought often over money, and their relationship eventually came to an end. This left Marie without any financial or emotional support. She was left with no choice but to return to California to live with her mother, where she struggled to provide for her baby boy.
After the child developed a stomach ulcer at the age of two, Marie realized she couldn’t take care of him properly. Her mother suggested she give him up for adoption to a local couple at the church. This was a difficult decision for Marie, but she felt it was the best option for him.
The story of Gordon and his journey to finding his family is a true testament to the power of kindness and determination. After spending 30 years on the streets, Gordon was finally able to receive the help he needed to obtain his personal identification and, with that, the chance to reconnect with his birth mother, Marie.
Their reunion was a long time coming, but when it finally happened, their bond proved to be immediate and strong. Gordon was able to meet his extended family, who welcomed him with open arms. This heartwarming story of redemption and family wouldn’t have been possible without the help of a stranger, Mark Askins, who took an interest in Gordon’s story and went above and beyond to reunite him with his family.
Gordon’s journey is far from over as he continues to work towards securing a job and collecting Social Security. However, with the love and support of his newly
found family, he can now move forward with a newfound sense of hope and purpose.
What a beautiful ending! Have you ever shown kindness to a homeless person? What would you have done in Deputy Sheriff Swalwell’s shoes after the first “no” from the authorities? Let us know in the comments below.
Thank you for watching, and see you next time.”