When 81-year-old Army veteran Clarence Blackmon returned to his home in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Tuesday after spending months in the hospital for cancer treatments and rehab, his refrigerator was empty.
He had nothing to eat, no family that lived nearby, and no way to get to the grocery store. Hungry and desperate, he called 911. He asked the operator if someone could go to the store for him and buy some groceries.
“I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t get out of my damn chair.” Blackmon said in his 911 call, according to WTVD.
He told the operator whatever she could do would help.
Operator Marilyn Hinson took the call and told Blackmon they would take him some groceries.
“He was hungry,” Hinson said. “I’ve been hungry. A lot of people can’t say that, but I can, and I can’t stand for anyone to be hungry.”
Blackmon told Hinson that all he wanted was a head of cabbage, 2 bananas, a can of beets and a can of green beans, tomato juice, 3 Pepsis, some processed ham and, his “absolute favorite,” popcorn. He told her he had the money to pay her back.
With her supervisor’s permission, Hinson went to the grocery store and bought groceries. Then, with the help of Fayetteville police officers, she delivered the food in person to Blackmon.
She made Blackmon a ham sandwich, which he called a feast. She also made him a couple more sandwiches for later on.
“It was like a little miracle ringing in my ear,” Blackmon said. “I thought, ‘Jesus, you answered those prayers!'”
He said he will soon have a home health nurse who will check on him twice a week.
Blackmon told the Huffington Post he has prostate cancer. “It’s unreal how devastating one thing can be,” he said. “Sometimes I just fall down and pray.”
He was diagnosed in 2009, and his doctor gave him “maybe another six months. But he doesn’t know and I don’t know. Only God knows and I thank God I’m still here.”
According to Blackmon, his wife, Wanda, died from cancer in 2011. He was drafted the same year in 1954, the same year he got married, and then he went on to work as an administrator for a petroleum company for 40 years before he retired.
“She was a dynamite person,” Blackmon said of his wife. “When she passed away, my situation went downhill. We had so many bills and we had barely been making the mortgage with both our pensions. I just couldn’t manage it myself.”
Blackmon said he lost the couple’s home of 35 years to foreclosure on July 24, 2014.
“I thank the Lord I had Wanda for as long as I did, but I miss her and our house,” he said. “Life is unpredictable and unfortunately it doesn’t get easier as we get older.”
The day after his story aired, Blackmon’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people offering food and help.
“They keep bringing it in by the armloads,” he told ABC News. “My cupboards are full. I’ve never had such prosperity.”
He has so much food, that he’s called the Salvation Army food bank to share it with others.
“Simply, these are wonderful gifts,” he said. “If I tried to consume all that’s in my kitchen right now, what’s in my cupboards, it would take me over a year!”