“For 30 years, Mick Myers lived alone on the streets. Sadly, his way of life was full of loneliness and despair. His pitiful condition didn’t even attract the sympathy of passersby, and he raised very little money when he made the rounds in the street.
Fortunately, one day, an unexpected encounter would change the course of his life. As an Alameda County deputy sheriff was about to issue him a ticket, Mick Myers was to make an incredible discovery about his own identity.
When he was born, Mick was adopted by a family from San Leandro, California. Regarded as an easygoing child by everyone, he never caused any problems for his parents. When he was little, he played in his high school music troupe and got along well with his classmates. His adoptive parents loved and educated him as their own child; they did everything to make Mick feel like a full member of the family, especially his mother, who he describes as warm and loving.
Unfortunately, his childhood was not all rosy. Despite all the love and care his mother gave him, Mick Myers was not really accepted and appreciated by the rest of the family. His brothers and sisters ignored him and neglected him. This exclusion made Mick Myers even more reserved and introverted; he felt isolated and alone—a feeling that would follow him all his life.
Mick Myers later confessed to having lived a life as lonely as a person can know. Growing up, Mick Myers lost his childhood friends, then his high school friends. Over the years, things only got worse. What really took a toll on him was that it was only at the age of 16 that Mick Myers learned he had been adopted. This discovery only made his sense of loneliness worse. The young boy felt even more excluded by his adoptive family.
When Mick Myers’ adoptive parents passed away, his siblings, who had never accepted him, suddenly turned their backs on him. He no longer had any contact with his family; now, he could only count on himself to move forward in life. Mick Myers had no one in his life and nowhere to go. He eventually managed to find a job as a truck driver, a solitary job that left little room for meetings and socialization with others. He spent most of his time alone in his truck and had no family or friends to meet up with in the evenings and weekends. Loneliness was beginning to weigh heavily on him, but this job kept him paying his bills for a while, until, unfortunately, he lost his job.
After losing his job as a truck driver, Mick Myers found himself homeless and penniless. This was just the start of his bad luck, and he ended up forced to spend the next 30 years on the streets of San Leandro, California. Every day, he would hope to earn some coins and to feed himself by playing the guitar around the East Bay Area. The days on the streets turned to weeks, then months, and finally years. Desperate and resigned to spending the rest of his life like this, Mick Myers never imagined for a second that his situation could be improved.
However, an unlikely meeting would turn his life upside down. Alameda County deputy sheriff, a man named Jacob Swalwell, regularly patrolled the area where Mick Myers would usually spend his days playing guitar or begging. He had spotted the homeless man for some time and asked him not to bother people on the streets, even though Mick Myers never harassed anyone. He continued to get warnings from the sheriff, but desperate as he was, Mick Myers always came back to town to beg or play his guitar until the day when Jacob Swalwell felt it was necessary to take more serious measures.
Jacob Swalwell noticed that his many warnings to Mick Myers were of no avail; the homeless person continued to beg. Annoyed, the sheriff ended up asking him for his identity papers to impose a report on him. “I gave him so many warnings. I asked him for his identity card, and he told me he didn’t have one. I immediately asked him, ‘Why don’t you have any ID?’” says the sheriff. The rest of this conversation would completely change the fate of the two men.
While he believed that all homeless people ended up on the streets because of an addiction, the deputy sheriff realized that Mick Myers was not a beggar like the others. His situation was much more complicated than he thought. “I learned more about him; he told me that he was disabled and that he had been homeless for 30 years. He was not an alcoholic; he did not use drugs; he did not smoke. He was just an old man on his own,” Jacob Swalwell told local CBS teams.
Mick Myers explained to the sheriff that he was on the street because he had nowhere to go and had no contact with his family. Also, he could not receive Social Security benefits since he needed identification. Mick Myers recounted his years of loneliness and despair to the sheriff. “Well, you have someone to help you now,” the sheriff replied. The first step in getting him off the streets was to help Mick Myers get some ID. However, the adventure was going to be complicated. As our American readers probably know, it is extremely difficult to renew your papers in the United States.
So, Mick Myers chained the long queues in the various administrative bodies. Mick Myers had a driver’s license when he was a truck driver, but the administration had failed to track him down for all these years to get his identity papers again. The clerk informed Mick Myers that he had to provide a whole series of documents that he obviously did not have. Things started to get more and more complicated. In the absence of a previous driver’s license, he had to present his birth certificate and at least two proofs of his residence in the state of California. How was he going to do it?
Mick Myers was used to refusals and disappointment. Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell was appalled at the situation but not completely disheartened. How could this homeless man provide proof of residence? Countered many obstacles in their path, Sheriff Swalwell decided to call in reinforcements. First, he asked a pastor to help him get documents for Mick Myers to provide proof of residency. Meanwhile, Swalwell chose to personally take care of a mission to find Mick Myers’ birth certificate.
When he managed to get the famous long-lost piece of paper, the sheriff also revealed Mick Myers’ real first name before he was adopted: Gordon Michael Oakley. Mick Myers had finally found his birth identity. A local TV station heard about his incredible story and wanted to report it. With the help of Sheriff Jacob Swalwell, they both realized that they were facing a real person and not just the stereotype they saw when they first met Mick Myers, Mick told reporters.
“If it is enough to help them get an ID so they can get state or federal benefits to get back on their feet, then that’s the least we can do as police officers,” added Sheriff Jacob Swalwell.
A very experienced private detective by the name of Marcus Askins became interested in the story of Mick Myers. Having seen the famous report which was devoted to him, Mark Askins was, at the time, an investigator for Miracle Messages, a non-profit that works to reunite homeless people with their parents. Touched by the story of Mick Myers, the
detective wanted to help him. Mick gave him his consent so that he could delve into his history and his past.
Mark Askins immediately set to work. The private investigator searched numerous documents, searching for the names of Mick Myers and Gordon Michael Oakley in the databases. After going through countless amounts of files, Mark Askins finally came up with two names that caught his eye. In one of the files were the names Wiley Albert Oakley and Mary Pauline Oakley, the detective said about researching all the information he could get about these two people until he found their connection to Mick Myers.
The detective made an incredible discovery. Mary Pauline Oakley and Wiley Albert Oakley were the biological parents of Mick Myers. Marie met Yum sailor Wiley when she was 16. The couple got married on a whim and moved to Tennessee together. Their first years had not been easy. Marie got pregnant when the young couple barely had enough to live on. The cabin was dilapidated; the cracks in the wall were so wide that snakes and other animals were entering inside the place. She later confided, “How could they take care of a newborn baby under these conditions?”
Wiley gave almost all of his seafaring salary to his mother, which left him little money to care for his wife and baby. They had a bed to sleep in, but there was no cradle for the baby. “I had to stick two chairs together and put a food rack on them,” Marie told reporters. Marie’s mother-in-law only gave her money to buy formula for the baby. Marie was so hungry that she confesses to having stolen vegetables from the neighbor’s garden.
Until the day when she decided her child deserved better. Mary packed her bags and returned to live with her mother in California. Arriving in the San Francisco Bay area with her newborn baby, Marie learned that she was still pregnant at the time when her mother came to pick her up at the station, she barely recognized her own daughter; she was so emaciated. “My life was not the one I expected from a marriage,” said Mary Pauline Oakley.
On her return from California, Marie asked to annul her marriage. A few months later, she gave birth to her second child, a baby boy named Gordon Michael Oakley. As if that wasn’t enough, a doctor diagnosed a hole in the little boy’s stomach. Distraught and penniless, Marie knew she could never afford to pay for the care of her little boy, so she had to make a decision. She entrusted her baby to the local church for adoption by a new family. “I was up against the wall; I had to do what was best for him,” she said. This little boy in question was Mick Myers.
Even though he received the medical care he needed throughout his life, Marie always wondered what had become of her little boy. The detective investigated whether Mike Myers’ mother was still alive. Even though she was over 60 years old, against all expectations, it was indeed the case. He found Marie Pauline Oakley and her home address. The detective made contact with her to make sure that she was indeed Mike Myers’ mother, and of course, she said yes.
Nowadays, she called herself Polly and she lived in a community near Humboldt. With great emotion, he informed her that he had found her long-lost son, Mike, and his mom first had contact by phone. Mike was very nervous, and he started to introduce himself with his birth name, but it seemed like Polly was just as much of an emotional wreck and cried out, “My son!” repeatedly over the phone. Their conversation lasted hours; mother and son were so in shock that they had found each other after spending entire lives being separated.
Two weeks after this phone call, Mick Myers flew for the very first time in his life. He took a plane paid through volunteers, along with Sheriff Jacob Swalwell and Detective Mark Askins. They flew to Humboldt County to finally reunite with his mother. Once there, Mick was greeted by a woman named Shannon, who was responsible for driving him to Polly’s house. Holding his hand, she said to Mick, “I must be your niece.”
Mick was in shock. Not only was he going to meet his biological mother, but he also learned that he also had a niece, a brother, and a sister. Mick learned that his mother had made a new life and remarried; she had children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. The whole family accepted Mick with open arms. After so many years of loneliness, Mick couldn’t believe what was happening to him. No sooner had he passed the front door than his mother immediately hugged him. They remained entwined for a long time, relieved and happy to have finally found each other after so many years.
Myers didn’t forget a single detail and had brought his new guitar, which Deputy Sheriff Swalwell had given him. He also took the album he made with his high school troupe to share a musical moment with Polly. When Mick told her his story, Polly was both deeply saddened, but she was so happy to have found him. “Who would have thought that something like this could have happened to someone, let alone me?” Mick exclaimed.
Polly and Mick were very grateful to Deputy Sheriff. Instead of seeing Mick as a burden on society, Jacob Swalwell chose to understand his situation and help him. “It allowed me to open my eyes to other people who are in Mick’s situation,” he confided. Detective Askins, who participated in the reunion, also shared his emotion. “We are all family; we are all someone for someone.”
After spending the day with his new family, Mick returned to Alameda County. Before leaving each other, the mother and the son promised to spend the next vacation together. Polly even invited Mick to come and live with her new husband. Today, Mick has all his identity papers and is looking for a job to be able to receive social assistance and get back on his feet. He then plans to move to Humboldt County, where his biological family resides. All of this might never have happened without the compassion, empathy, and help of the sheriff.”