"Unexpected Christmas Hero" by Kathi Macias
Josie Meyers was angry, angry with her deceased husband and angry with God. The Meyers family was living the "American dream" until Josie's husband died, leaving Josie and her two small children destitute, with nothing but what they could fit into their backpacks. Josie blamed God for abandoning them in the midst of their crisis. With nowhere to go and no support system the young family was left to sleep in homeless shelters, occasional cheap motels or in an alley when the shelters were full. Soup kitchens provided occasional meals, and only necessities were purchased with carefully managed food vouchers and a small monthly assistance check. On cold rainy days the family would visit the library, spending time reading and studying.
On Thanksgiving Day in a local soup kitchen Josie, Jacob and Susanna had just sat down to eat when Rick, a Vietnam War veteran, entered their lives. Rick was homeless, unkempt, and had demons of his own, but displayed a gentle and comforting spirit. His offer to pray over their food was accepted and as the children interacted with Rick they were immediately drawn to him. Josie however, was reticent and reluctant to warm up to anyone, mistrust still wreaking havoc in her heart. Rick's faith was ever present, but Josie couldn't reconcile with God. Rick was helpful in suggesting ways to make the Meyers family more comfortable especially as the weather in Washington state grew rainy and colder in the winter months. Rick frequently checked on Josie and the children to make sure they were safe. He oftentimes gave up his space in a shelter to other homeless people like Josie and her children, even though his health was impaired. As difficult as their lives had become Josie became cognizant of the generosity, inspiration and strength from outsiders. Eventually Josie's heart warmed with the idea that Rick may be their guardian angel.
The secondary true story that resulted from this publication is as impressive as the fictional story itself. Photographers sought out a homeless man who fit the author's description of Rick, and upon finding an incredible match they asked Willard Parker for permission to take his picture for use on the cover of "Unexpected Christms Hero." Homelessness has been a way of life for Mr. Parker and he was willing to comply. Willard hadn't seen his daughters in several years, and had never met his grandchildren. The resulting hope was that someone might recognize his picture and assist in reuniting him with his family. A friend of one of Mr. Parker's daughters recognized his picture on the book cover, and informed her that she was certain it was her father. Confirmation resulted in a campaign to reunite the Parker family. Author Kathy Macias and her husband Al set up a website for the collection of donations to facilitate in reuniting them. In a matter of weeks the family was successfully reunited through the generosity of the Macias' and the donations of countless others. Mr. Parker is living with one of his daughters as a result of this miraculous event. His is suffering from leukemia, but happy to have this time with his family.
Kathy Macias is a superb author who broaches unpopular topics and carefully weaves a story of truth, reality, strength of human character, sacrificial love and the spirit of generosity in her fictional stories. She carefully incorporates those unpopular topics with inspiration, compassion and spirituality. "Unexpected Christmas Hero" is an emotional portrayal of deceit, a resultant homeless condition, and eventual reconciliation. Although classified as a Christmas story, this is a powerful story that can be read any time of the year, and I intend to read this book again and again.
DISCLAIMER: I purchased a copy of this book with no expectations from the author regarding a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine, and no compensation has been received for this honest review.