Image: © Mara Eastern (Used with permission)
Overnight it had snowed again leaving its blanket of wonder for us to play in.
As we ventured out the old man wandered past. His steps were hesitant as he plodded along leaving his oversized boot prints in his wake.
His head bowed I recognised him as the old man who lived in the park, a cardboard box as his home, his possessions in dirty plastic bags packed into the corners of his current box.
I couldn’t imagine how cold it must be for him on nights where the water in the pipes froze, the snow fell, and the freezing winds blew.
But he survived, and mum had often told me he was a man who had occupied his spot in the park for a lot of years. He lived on handouts, the late night coffee van and the generosity of strangers going by.
He never asked for anything, he was not one to beg but preferred to maintain his own sense of silent dignity.
He was often seen around the town on cold mornings I suspected as movement warmed him and kept him functioning.
There were places he went out of habit, the servo on the highway which allowed him to use their toilets, the café on the main street who gave him a coffee each morning and allowed him to use their bathroom to wash up.
The various charities in the town had tried to provide housing for him, but he was such a creature of habit, the outside and his park home was all he wanted.
To today seeing him huddled inside his old woollen coat, covering the layers beneath, gave me reason to be grateful for the roof over my head.
Written for: https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/tale-weaver-160-homelessness/
This is really well told. Such sympathy, but also an understanding that this man wants to live the life he knows, with dignity, and doesn’t want rescuing despite the cold. It would make me glaffor my warm bed as well.
yes thanks Mandi, I’ve known of a few characters who seemed happy living the rough life they did.
You’re welcome. Yes, I know, I’m downtown quite a bit and there are many that are similar to this, despite are wretched winters!
You have to admire someone who refuses to beg and although he’s homeless, his dignity is obvious. We have a multilevel car park near us, and you often see people sleeping in the stairwell. Every Wednesday, a van from one of the local churches rocks up and serves breakfast (cereal, toast, muffins, eggs, sausages etc coffee/tea/hot chocolate) for them – and anyone else who rocks up. The same van goes to thirteen other locations in the local area too.
There are some good people in this world Lyn
This man is indeed dignified. He keeps himself clean (nice that local businesses help him with the basics to do so) and is a bother to no-one.
One of our homeless guys died recently. He had a family who let him shower and stay with them but he preferred to be “ at work” as he put it, sitting around in the mall.
So sad, but at least his family understood him.
Wow, such a wonderful story! I find myself thinking about those who are homeless especially these days in winter too. So it’s great that you could use my photo for a story that strikes the cord with me!
As soon as I saw the man in the photo it suggested homeless to me…..so I’m glad you connected with it.
Yes, it suggested homelessness to me too, for some reasons. Perhaps because he was the only person in the street in such nasty weather. But I assure you he is most likely not homeless in fact.
I’m glad about that though I was sure in reality he was probably on his way to the shop to buy milk.
nice one Michael, I have met such gents … they prefer the outdoors over conforming to our standards and who knows why!
It is sad I’ve known two fellows who lived in bus shelters despite being offered housing
one guy was a millionaire, I managed his funds! Another in India had lived in different boxes in the same place for decades … he died while I was near 😦