Skip to comments.He died penniless, but rich with friends
Posted on 10/27/2012 5:22:18 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
It was just before sunrise when Bernie Kern wheeled himself to an outdoor plaza at Laguna Honda Hospital for his usual morning cigarette. He'd been living in the hospital for five years, but four decades of homelessness before that had left him with an enduring affection for the early morning chill and quiet.
The cigarette was done in a few minutes. It was his last.
Kern was found peacefully slumped in his wheelchair just outside the elevator, his heart given out from the long years on the streets.
That was Oct. 9. He was 90.
Having long outlived every relative he knew, there was no family to claim him. The normal city policy in such cases is to cremate him along with other unclaimed indigents, then scatter his ashes into the ocean with all the others on a routine run by a city-hired boat.
.... He was born in New York City, and when he was 8 his father abandoned his mother - who put Kern, his two brothers and one sister into an orphanage. The family reunited when the mother remarried, but the drunken stepfather beat the children.
As a young man Kern worked at Horn and Hardart, the first food service automat in New York and the place where he said he met Fitzgerald. Then came World War II, when he was injured as an Army private in Europe.
...."I'm sure he had PTSD from his time in World War II," said Kelly. "His isolation, not trusting people, inability to cope back in society, refusal of treatment - it all fit."
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
From high on a perch above the commoner comes forth the compassion of a self engrandized liberal who hates the military and those who serve, hates the individual who strives to make his life better, for better or worse but loves to show the non compassionate of the system now controlled by thier own......this cant be right, wait it’s Bushes fault
Heavenly Father why? Why would a veteran have to live lonely and poverty stricken for all these years? What about providing for him out of your riches?
Bernie may have been one of the more content as opposed to being 'happy'.
I've learned a LOT about being content with what I have in my August ... (or maybe September? ) years.
The “noble” bum. Limousine liberals are always telling us “lesser beings” that we should aspire to be like them.
God has a reason for sure.... for me, its an example of all that I have to be grateful for.... so blessed, in so many ways. IT makes me realize that my troubles in life are small. God will care for him in heaven.
well I am livid at God at the moment for all the ways He has not protected the innocent and has allowed the evil to prosper
C’mon, CW. It’s a touching story of humanity. The poor guy had a rough life - abandoned by father, mother putting him in an orphanage with his siblings, mother remarried and the stepfather beat the kids, goes to war in Europe in WW II and gets injured, comes home a wreck, becomes a bum, and spends 60 or 70 years on the streets.
In the end, some caring people at the hospital befriend him, bring him out of a 70 year shell, and he brings some joy to people and kids around him.
How can you not read that and reflect on your own gifts in life and the more unfortunate around us?
shame on you!
Daily (dare I say hourly) there are thousands of stories of humanity but this one makes them feel good about themselves and what they think about the folly of serving your country.
I guess I'm reading a different story or have a different perspective on it. Having worked with the homeless at a Christian-based mission I believe what the Roche family did was a blessing to Mr. Kern - they showed him dignity in life and compassion in death.
How can you be angry with God when bad stuff happens because people aren’t following His Word? :-(
I have a read for you...
Sorry to hear that... I felt that way when my Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer.... then my 8 year old son said something very profound ... “Dad, do you think God is mad at us.... we don’t go to church all the time...a lot of people do bad things and never get in trouble...” and he went on. So your comment begs the question, have we all done enough to protect God. God’s wrath can take a while....remember the dark ages? Just food for thought.... you are in my prayers and I truly hope your anger at God isn’t for the same reasons that I had. God Bless.
Your take on this is mine as well. It kind of reminded me of the essays Joseph Mitchell wrote for the New Yorker for 30 years. He interviewed Bowery Bums and other marginal characters and presented them at face value. “Here’s a life unlike your own, but, I’m willing to bet, you will have occasional flashes of recognition.”
He allows the rain to fall on both the good and the wicked. He allows us a free will to choose how we live. Believe me, I know how easy it is to shake your fist at God. In the last six months, my wife has left me and I’ve been laid off after seven years with the same company and I am still not working. Lawyers have eaten up the severance package that I received. I may lose the house and have to declare bankruptcy and our two puppies may have to go to the Humane Society.
Is life unfair? For sure, however, we can CHOOSE not to be angry at Him. We can choose to accept that God has given us free will and that people often make choices that hurt others.
Most importantly, He gave us His Son, so that whomever believes in Jesus, will spend Eternity with the Father. No tears, no pain, no suffering with Him in Eternity. Those who do NOT choose to follow Jesus, will spend Eternity away from the Father, where there is no good and no hope, for ever. I pray that you choose wisely, as we never know when we may leave this existence.
Well, I thought it was/is a beautiful story.
Good luck with that carrying you through life.
I agree with you. Every small community has someone like him and the people around him usually adopt him. The guy in our community is called “Radio.” It is always good as a society that we show an affection for people like him.