Tuesday, May 06, 2008

things lost and found

I saw him wheeling out as I walked in. Folks are swarming out, it's time to hit the streets. He's struggling with his bag and he's using one of his feet to propell his chair forwards, his shoes are tattered and his pants are stained. He looks up and sees me coming and stops rolling you work here? Yes sir. (Oh, hell yes sirree, yes sir I do).

Him: I've seen you around, up at that other place.
Me: Yep, I get around.
Him: Where's that kid of yours, the one who runs all over the place.
Me: Ah. Well, she's at school. Can't get much done with her here. But I'm smiling, I love that she's a part of this somehow, that she sees it and it sees her.
Him: I'll say.
Me: So, where you off to?
Him: Same as usual, go try and find a place to rest till you let me back in.
Me: It's awful, isn't it. I wish you didn't have to stay here at all.
Him: I had a place once, a really great place.
Me: Tell me about it (I stop and sit, my day can start a few minutes late or better stated this is a good way to start the day)
Him: It was great, out in the middle of the woods. Me and my old lady, we had some goats and chickens, I built a lot of it by hand. We loved that place.
Me: Did you have a garden? I bet you had a garden. What happened?
Him: We did have a garden. We grew all kinds of stuff. There was an accident. My wife was killed. I was hurt. Eventually I lost the house. I lost everything that ever mattered.
Me: And now you are here.
Him: And now I am here. But I'm still alive. You all let me stay here and that makes it easier too. But I miss it. Her. All of it. But I'm still alive. I touch his shoulder. I don't know what to say because of course. Of course.

And with that we parted ways, his bag a bit more secure now, he heads out to the sun.

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40 comments:

kristen said...

that's the part that always makes my stomach hurt - that there's so much lost and found.

i love you for always making the right choice in words, i probably would just start to cry.

Blog Antagonist said...

Sniffle. I friggen hate that.

Annie said...

Thank you so much for sharing these stories because they remind all of us that these are humans and their suffering is so real. This gets lost so often in people's excuses for why they don't do more to help. From me, right up to the big wigs in power.

Thank you.

Her Grace said...

I really believe that your blog should be required reading. For everyone. This post and others like it are exactly why.

Kelly said...

To not be overlooked, to be spoken to as a human being, to be acknowledged...beautiful.

Hetha said...

Something is seriously wrong in this country when this is the daily reality for so many people yet so few us are in touch with that reality. But I bet many of us could tell you the latest about Brangelina or B.Spears. Keep rockin it jen.

kgirl said...

Everybody has a story, and you are a gift for giving him the opportunity to tell it.

thailandchani said...

Good one, of course. There's not much more to say beyond what I've already said. It's immoral and unconscionable that people have to live that way.

canwekickthebarhere said...

What many don't realize is how close they are to having the same thing happen to them - very close. I wouldn't know what to say either. Thanks for telling his story, sister.

cinnamon gurl said...

"Tell me about it." I'm going to have to try that sometime. I never know how to hear more without being prying.

I want to say I love hearing these stories, but of course I don't. But it's important to hear them. Thank you for sharing again and again.

Beck said...

Oh, the poor man.
But I love hearing that someone was there to compassionately hear his story - that's a HUGE thing.

Aliki2006 said...

Ugh, this was painful to read--it hurt.

crazymumma said...

I guess sometimes it all just lies in the listening. The hearing.

painted maypole said...

thank you for repeatedly teaching us how important it is to listen to people's stories. it's a lesson that bears repeating

flutter said...

this is why the world needs you.

mamatulip said...

He won't forget that conversation, and I'll bet you won't, either.

KC said...

Every person has his story. The good ones ask and listen.

bgirl said...

wow...i can't imagine how much you see and hear...thank god you share it.

Jennifer said...

Just like that. It's how it is.

"Tell me about it." Maybe the most important words we can say to each other. Those, and thank you. Thank you, Jen.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

And now I'm all teary. It can all be taken away so fast.

Defiantmuse said...

"Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts." - Albert Einstein

urban-urchin said...

the really sad thing is his story isn't uncommon- how heartbreaking.

TEOM said...

I am always glad when you post about your good work.

moosh in indy. said...

It's the ones with the stories that get ignored the most it seems.

cce said...

Oh damn, now I'm starting my Wednesday a little weepy. But, Jen, really I'm glad to because by sharing his story you make me step back and remember that whatever plagues me, it is, thankfully, right now, small, small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

Christine said...

i pictured a young, happy man tending his garden, before tragedy hit. i wish he were there now, living his days is peace. but he isn't and that makes me want to cry. but he has you, sister, and thank goodness for that.

you bless his life.

blooming desertpea said...

Life can change so quickly, all it takes is a second, doesn't it? That damn second ...

Deb said...

Fuck, that sucks.

Julie Pippert said...

I hate that such a thing happened to them, to him, to her. I hate that such a thing can happen. I hate that we just expect people to pull themselves back up because we did or so and so did.

I love that you are there for him, them. And that you share this with us.

Amy Y said...

I can't imagine that feeling... to have it all and then lose it. And to still be able to count your blessings ~ what an amazing character he has. And what a reminder to the rest of us who have so much more yet don't appreciate it.

Thank you for this, Mama.

liv said...

damn, woman. you always have a full bowl of compelling for the table. thanks for yanking me from my self absorption for a moment.

Family Adventure said...

Imagine this man still able to be thankful for little things, despite what he's gone through. What a spirit.

Heidi

Janet said...

That story...oof.

But you stopped to listen. I bet that made his day.

Kellan said...

I wish he still had his place - his garden - that other life!!

I have missed you. HOpe you are well. SEe you soon - Kellan

creative-type dad said...

Wow, that is a touching story...

NotSoSage said...

Jen, this hit home today. Lately, when I've been talking to me about the changes we're implementing to try to get this school thing happening I keep telling people that the sad reality is that we are a middle class, university-educated couple and that in some ways it's easy to take risks because, barring a true tragedy, we'll probably always having something to fall back on, even if it's not our dream. This man's story...well...that's the tragedy I'm thinking of. It scares me shitless. The strength that he has just to keep going. I truly believe I would only be able to do that because of Mme L...otherwise, well...I don't want to think about it.

Thanks for sharing this. And listening to me ramble.

carrie said...

It happens just like that, doesn't it? One day you're raising goats and the next you've lost the love of your life and everything changes.

That's why you gotta enjoy the ride.

Amanda said...

Thank you always for giving me pause.

Your touch, in person, so dear and through this monitor so illuminating. Thank you.

Amanda said...

Thank you always for giving me pause.

Your touch, in person, so dear and through this monitor so illuminating. Thank you.

Daisy said...

"Tell me about it." Four words that mean so much.