One early Friday morning a few months ago, we lost a member an ever present member of our community. The death didn’t make the news and it wasn’t followed by a large funeral. Time has passed, but I still wanted to take a moment and acknowledge the value of another human spirit.
I saw the familiar figure sitting on the bus bench near the corner of SouthMore and Almeda St. She appeared to be asleep.
So I thought. Little did I know that she had passed,sitting upright ,head tilted over the the left shoulder…for a quick moment the thought that she might be deceased came to mind but …I quickly dismissed it. Later, I saw the fire trucks, policemen and ambulance. I eventually that my fleeting, morbid thought was, in fact, reality.
This poem is written out of love and sadness for the poor and the mentally ill people who “flower our streets” with the “remnants” of their shattered lives…yet in many ways they are a reflection of “who we are and who we can become.”
On 288 & Southmore for over 30 years
Sat, or stood, a homeless woman on the side of the freeway’s humble hill!
She was determined to stake her claim and one hardly stood where she made her “ fame”
Rain , foggy, hot or cold
She stood and her tale was told
She went through hard times
And continued to return
No matter how little she tried to earn
Year in and out
She made her self known
The sadness… the pain ……was surely shown
Her last display was on Friday
Sitting in a humble way
Even as she began..staking out her place to the very end!
“There, but by the grace of GOD, go I”
(or your neighbor, spouse, child, relative, or you)
I saw Ms. C. Thompson over 20 years ago at the intersection of Southmore and 288. She was located in Third Ward, Houston, an area rich with a blend of culture and the enrichment of African/Black history.
Sometimes she was sitting, sometimes standing.
On one occasion I came through and placed a twenty dollar bill in her cup… She jumped up and shouted “Where have you been all my life?”
That statement made me think, how we can be so excited about one person, who may have given us a large donation or gift? Our gratitude is more pronounced for the one time amount than it is for the person who donates smaller amounts on a regular basis. It seems to me, the reality is that it is the small, but consistent amount that has sustained us for years.
I recall an incident about a different lady on the South side of town.
When someone I knew personally, who often gave her several dollars or more. One day he did not have any cash and asked me to give him a dollar to give her. She looked at the dollar and said with a sneer “Ooooh a dollar!“
That comment cost her future donations from that person. Her ingratitude may have been one reason why some people do not start giving what they believe they may not be able to maintain.
One thing for sure is we need to do something more permanent to help the homeless, especially children and those who are mentally ill. Every life has a purpose on this earth, and for each human interaction, no matter how big or small, we all should take the time to find the lesson that each “connection”gives us.
I just want to thank each person without house or security for lessons I have learned from them and the gift of giving me sensitivity. I know I am no better than them and that helps me to remember to share.