Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hug in a Homeless Camp

I visited the homeless camp this evening. I found a friend who took me over with bags of cat food to deliver to the campers left there. The cats were nearly starved. I gave the first camper a bag of food. The second camp, Little R's, was vacant, but the black tame female, left behind by campers when they moved from the other side, was in his tent and starved. I opened one of the bags and poured out a large pile for her and the others.

I went to the last camp where the woman lives. She stood up immediately, startled at first by my sudden appearance in the woods. Then she held her arms out and wanted a hug. "I can't believe it," she said over and over.

She always acts shocked to see me, face full of disbelief. Like I've tramped through miles upon miles of deep snow and wilderness carrying an 80 pound pack to get there.

She wanted me to sit down and talk awhile. She stumbled to her feet to offer me her chair. She had two sports or camp type fold up chairs under a tarp, at a table. The tarp had been squared off to make almost a little room, where she could sit, at her table, out of the rain.

She was drunk and could barely stand without wobbling. I eyed the creek, only 15 feet away, and hoped she wouldn't stumble into it in the night.

She waved at the empty tent and said "He's dead you know." I said "I know." Speed, as was his nickname, died a few weeks ago. Alcoholism.

She looked old tonight. Almost defeated.

She had torn open the plastic wrap on raw chicken thigh and drumstick pieces, two in each of the two packages, for her cats. She had no cat food. I gave her the two 18 lb bags I'd bought and brought over. I opened one of the bags and filled two food dishes in her kitchen shelter so her cats could eat immediately. Then I came back over to the table. The man from the first camp had shown up, following me through the woods. He wanted to hug me too and tell me thank you.

When the woman hugged me, she wouldn't let go for about five minutes. We've known each other a long time. I think she knows if she doesn't do something, she might be next to die out there somewhere. I so much wish I could buy those three a house to live in. I mean, I know they'd trash it, but they'd have a roof and bathroom, shower, heat, even a TV and frig for their use. I just wish I could do that for them but I can't.

Those last three campers have been at it too long. They know it, too, that they're on borrowed time now. I don't know if any of them will last the year through. It's the alcohol that kills them one by one.

I finally had to leave because my gracious friend would be out there driving back and forth waiting for me. I need to get those three some more food, human food, take that in.

I take her vitamins but she doesn't take them. I take them Gatorade when I can afford to, so at least they replenish their electrolites. She'll tell me, and Richard too will chime in "Is it like your job or something to bug us?" And I'll say "Hell yes. I have to bug someone. May as well be you guys." "All right," one of them will say, "guess we'll let you. As long as you fix them cats."

I know people think the drunks are worthless. Well, so what, they're still human beings.

Well anyhow, after I left my mind kept racing trying to come up with some solution for them.

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