Surprised by a Pirate (a true story)


As I stooped over to open the pirate chest full of treasure, I sighed. Memories flooded my mind, from a treasure hunt in the backyard for a pirate party after reading Treasure Island, to painting the chest gold to transform it into King Tut’s treasure back when we studied ancient Egypt. We shoved that treasure chest into a closet under the stairs as a tomb for my toilet-paper-wrapped kid in a cardboard sarcophagus. Fun times.

My kids are now teens. Having outgrown the treasure box, I put it up for sale. A man claiming to be a pirate contacted me. He wanted to buy the treasure chest, and he needed me to deliver it because he had only one leg. My son Stephen drove me with the treasure chest over to his house, where he lifted the pirate treasure one last time. The man with the one leg not only gave me the $20 I was asking for the box, but he paid me another $20 for delivering it just ten minutes down the street from my house. Since I needed the money for groceries, I burst into tears and hugged this wild gray-haired man in his wheel chair.

There was something about his eyes that tugged on my heart. His appearance matched his description of himself as a pirate (he really did look like a retired pirate, with the personality to go with it). The surprised but happy look he gave me when I hugged him was priceless. As I drove away, I pondered how I could go back. I knew the compassion in my heart was from Jesus, and I wanted to make sure he knew that he was loved.

He was too interesting a person to just pass by and move on. I couldn’t let him sit there all day in his wheelchair, house-bound, just waiting to die. Yes. I said it. That’s what I saw in his eyes. I saw it because it was a mirror of my own soul, longing to be set free from the suffering, sorrow, and evil of this world.

I sat at the computer, pondering the meaning of life. Since I sold the treasure chest through Facebook, I clicked through to his profile. Without any thought, I pressed the button to add him as a friend. Within the hour, he mentioned that he needed a housekeeper. For some reason I sensed danger. Not knowing if the danger was real or imaginary, I asked my ministry friend if she would like to come with me to clean this man’s house. She said yes.

The fact that I hate cleaning became obvious when I wrestled with cleaning the walls of a shower that had a seat attached to the middle of the tub. There was no space. My ministry friend did not want to touch the bathroom with a ten foot pole, so she sang sweet songs about Jesus as she swept and mopped the living room. She asked him if it was okay for her to sing, and he seemed pleased with it. I prayed for his soul as I struggled to keep my balance.

Kicking at the grime, my back aching from the scrubbing, I sighed a bit too loud. My pirate friend laughed, shouting to my ministry partner that I was cussing in the bathroom. “No, I’m not. Are you trying to get me in trouble?” I responded, laughing.

We finished up, and the pirate paid us way more than seemed right, so I put some money back, returning it to him. He pressed me to take it and I said no.

I’m actually glad that I said no because after two times of cleaning his house, he said that he had run out of savings. This was after canceling the third time of cleaning due to going in and out of the hospital. I was sad for some reason, not just because I needed the money, but because there was something about the pirate’s eyes that was compelling. When I went to return his key, I told him that Jesus loved him, even though it seemed like He didn’t because of his amputated leg. I was sad that he had to suffer, and I told him that Jesus is with us in our pain. I didn’t know what else to say, so I hugged him one last time before I drove away.

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11 Responses to “Surprised by a Pirate (a true story)”

  1. Ok, Susan, you left me wondering what happens next! Is this man alone? Is there any chance you will befriend him and visit once in awhile? I think there is a story here. God bless you!

    • Susan says:

      I don’t know if I will ever see him again. I do love him with all my heart. I wish I didn’t feel so unsafe with him, He has a roommate, but he’s hardly ever there. I think the roommate is taking advantage of him and his prescription drugs.

  2. Susan, I love your stories and how relatable they are to me and my homeschooling adventures.

  3. Heather Hart says:

    Susan, I just adore your heart. Cleaning is definitly a ministry of love. But how special that you got to impact his heart and life in that way, even just for a short while.

    • Susan says:

      Anyone who is reading through these comments, please pray for him, that he would truly give his life to Jesus. I have no idea how much time he has left.

  4. My mom used to clean an elderly woman’s house down the street from her twice a month until she (my mom) passed. My mom loved doing it for her and would have done it for free, but this elderly woman refused. It helped her to pay for it, and their companionship was a blessing to both.

  5. Susan says:

    I will let you know if there are any updates on this story. We’ll see if God brings him back into my life or not.

  6. Yaa Attobrah says:

    Susan, I honour your heart of compassion. We are called to love one another deeply. God bless you.

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