I have heard nothing further of George. I can only assume he ended up in Fort Worth at a treatment facility and pray that he is doing well. I inquired about him at OurCalling and got no reply. It is that way with the homeless if you are just a part-time/one-time volunteer – I would imagine, that while the help you are lending is invaluable, it would also be better if it was recurring. I feel guilty, like a bad parent, that I haven’t done more to volunteer….but I am pretty over-extended with just my immediate family and work right now, so I don’t think I’d be doing anyone any favors by casting a wider focus at this time.
As we drove along, George spoke occasionally, wondering out loud about his situation….his life…his future…his circumstances…
It was awkward for me…as most of us sat there and did not respond…it bothered me so much that I chose to respond in ways I thought might give George some motivation or hope.
“You can do this, George.”
“We are doing this because we want you to know that Jesus loves you just like he loves us.”
All these things I believe, but I wondered how convincing I sounded to George…he seemed to be teetering back and forth on his decision to come with us.
Then George started telling jokes. Blonde jokes. When I was younger, I might have taken offense…in my later years (yeah, I am getting “mature” :D) but now I see this as a form of relating to another human being. When I was a child I would have never considered this an acceptable reason for tolerating blonde jokes….my how I’ve grown…
George’s ponderings turned religious in nature. He spoke of his mother and how she went to church every day. This to me, said Catholic, and it was confirmed when he told us his mother used to wear crocheted hats to church and that one day she showed up and everyone was wearing crocheted hats. At first everyone was all “Awwww!!” and “So sweet!” and then George told the “punch line” again we all chuckled. I asked George if his mom lived in Dallas but I don’t know if he heard me or ignored me.
Interludes of uncomfortable silence were broken up by George telling us how the military taught him how to kill, but left him without retraining when his duty was over. I asked George what he did in the military…he replied with some official sounding lethal title. What I know about the military could pretty much be summed up in a few paragraphs. I tried to figure when George might have been in the military – my mental math, trying to figure out what years, which military events he might have been a part of was not working, especially since I have no idea how old George is. So I ask. He is 52. More mental math…FAIL. So I ask, “Where did you serve?” He replied Germany, but I was stumped ….were we involved in a war, at a time when George would have been eligible for the military, when he would be required to use his “training to kill” skills? Two words: Rabbit Hole. So I moved on. It was quite a long ride to Green Oaks…but we were getting there, and George was with us…and that is all that mattered.
Finally we arrived at Green Oaks and the van rounded the corner to the emergency intake entrance. George asked where we were, our driver reminded him of our destination. We pulled into the parking space and my mom personality kicked in. Someone said, “Someone should go in with him.” Spoke up while trying to open the van door from the back seat.
“I will.” I had NO idea what to expect and thankfully 2 other women said they would come as well. We got out, opened the door for George and he carefully got out of the van (moving slow because, remember? He was run over by a car last year). Sweet George got out and immediately gave each of us a hug. He thought we were dropping him and leaving. We assured him we would stay with him and help him get admitted; this seemed to please him. Moving slowly, we made our way to the sliding glass doors.
Directly inside was the intake desk, behind glass with a 1/2” tall slit at the bottom of the window to pass papers through. I looked at the slit wondering how they could get even a clipboard through it. There was an attendant at the desk and a Dallas Police officer sitting beside her behind the glass.
“I am with OurCalling,” I said it like they would instantly recognize the organization…they did not, or at least they did not indicate recognition. “We have brought George here, he wants to detox.” The woman behind the glass rattled off the documentation requirements so quickly my brain couldn’t retain it. Also, I couldn’t hear her from behind the glass, so I asked her to repeat. I was amazed to find that indeed, they had special flat clipped clip boards that actually fit through the tiny slot in the glass.
She had indicated on the forms with X’s what information needed to be completed, so I joined George on the sofa…..he giggled, “We’ll sit on the love seat.” Emphasis on the word “love” …goof. I started filling out the paper work asking George for specifics, his birthday and Social Security number. Then George had to sign his name, George H. Miller, which he did in a large scrawl…partly because of the alcohol, but also, as I would learn later, because he couldn’t see. This triggered another mental rabbit hole for me. I wear trifocals…TRI, people, three separate areas of vision. I cannot imagine not being able to see to read on top of being homeless and alcoholic…why had this possibility not ever occurred to me?
I know there are places that take old eyeglasses for the poor…so my middle class mind wondered why didn’t George have some of those glasses? Don’t the donations go directly to the homeless? We give, usually clothes, our cast offs…and we don’t think about the delivery and distribution systems involved in getting these items in to the hands of those who need them. I mentally thanked OurCalling for this moment of mental clarity.
Paper work competed and returned, we sat and waited. I asked George if he knew any more jokes. He chuckled and seemed tired of me….”yeah…lots.” The subject of George being in prison came up…I forget how; I asked him why he had been in prison. He said he used to break into houses and steal things…that he had gotten away with it a lot until he got married, but that after that, he seemed to get caught a lot. He gave me a smile. I asked him if he had any kids. “Yes, “he replied, “two. One works in an office and one is an architect.” I mentally wondered if his kids even know if George is alive…much less living on the streets. My own father gave up contact with my sister and I about a year after my parents divorced. He lived in the same town…probably less than 10 miles away, but chose not to maintain a relationship with his two daughters who were in 2nd and 3rd grade. Too bad for him….he missed out. But this is George’s story.
Hayley came over to encourage George. She asked him if he remembered Tammy. That Tammy had been through the Homeward Bound program (first step is the check-in at Green Oaks) and that she was doing well and so could he. George got immediately agitated. “I can’t be around Tammy!” This surprised Hayley, “Why, George?” George went on to explain that while he had provided a room (under a bridge in his makeshift home) and that there was no hanky panky (my words) that took place between them, that he felt that she was a bad influence in the substance abuse self control area (also my words). Hayley assured him he would not have to see her if he didn’t want to. She would be done with the program before he even got to Homeward Bound and besides, there are men’s dorms on one side and women’s on the other. George calmed down and apologized. He said he meant no ill will against Tammy; he just couldn’t be around her.
Hayley went to go sit back down and George turned to me and said, “You know all about me; I know nothing about you.” “Fair enough,” I said, “I have 3…” I started to tell George about my daughters and the intake nurse came into the room and called his name. Hailey, Jennifer and I all stood with George and the nurse indicated that only one person could accompany George. I had completed paperwork and had come this far…no stopping now….so we went back together.
Part Three …tomorrow, I PROMISE!!!
George appeared on the scene, carrying a rather large bottle of beer in a paper bag, limping with a swollen eye and a smile. Willy greeted him, taking the bottle, “Let’s put this over here. The church people are here to see us!”
I had been talking to Laura, a spritely 5’3” woman wearing a red t-shirt with a large protrusion on her belly which, when I asked about the surgery she had mentioned was coming up, she declared was to rid her of her “alien babies”. She sing songed this while patting her belly and lifted her shirt to show her belly with the 3 large herniated areas that, indeed, were reminiscent of “Kuato”, the alien from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Total Recall. When Laura saw that George had alcohol, she became embarrassed and her demeanor changed from tough talking street woman to giggly hostess, embarrassed by the neighborhood drunk, come to call. She tried to “hide” behind me to express this embarrassment.
It was clear, however embarrassed she was, that George was welcome and harmless. Laura tsk’d over his swollen eye, giving me a knowing nod, explaining that George said he had fallen, but her look told me she knew better. She moved around to the group of people George was speaking with, I assume to check on him in a roundabout way.
I continued to listen to stories from Alberto, a cute and flirty little man from El Salvador. He had a captive audience and was enjoying the attention so his stories flowed on and on. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the other group talking to George and heard bits and pieces of the conversation…saw him display a sort of slow karate move to demonstrate something, I am not sure what. It reminded me of a small boy, carrying on a conversation and running through the Tae Kwon Do moves he’d learned that week while he did so.
George eventually made his way over to us, looking for a lighter for his cigarette. He asked Alberto who diligently looked through his scraps of paper and plastic bags in his backpack for one. When Alberto couldn’t find one, George moved on around the side of the concrete dumpster at a pace that suggested he was leaving. But when I took a few steps to the right, I saw that he was standing there, guarded against the wind, and had lit his cigarette, presumably with a match he had not wanted to use. I stepped back to where I had been standing and said quietly, “He’s still there,” to the expectant look on Alberto’s face.
George smoked half his cigarette before he came around full circle of the dumpster and walked up to Jennifer and me and look right at us. “Do you know about the bible?” he asked. We replied that we did and he said, “I want to be good, I want to be worth something…I want to do good, like you people do.” I looked him square in his good eye and said. “You are,” to which George replied. “I look at you and I see a cross.” I cannot deny that this gave me chills and at the same time I could tell it was not the first time George had said this to anyone.
George went on to tell us about how his life on the street was difficult and he was getting too old to endure much more. How he was often beaten and how scary the nights were. He’d been in the army and all they had taught him was “how to kill” and then when he’d left the army, they had done nothing to help him readjust to civilian life. This too had a familiar cadence to it as though he’d repeated this story many times to many people.
Our group leaders from OurCalling gather the group up and announced that George had made the decision to go to Green Oaks Drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, so we would be taking him there now. Alberto was asked if he too would like to go, Laura had long since moved on, Alberto smiled politely and shook his head “no”.
I felt like we were guiding a baby deer to the van. The group leaders walked ahead and the rest of our group behind. I kept pace with George, watching him out of the corner of my eye, lest he bolt and run. I am not sure what I thought I would do if he did; I just felt the need to keep pace with him. So I did.
We got to the van and George was amiable…..grateful in his expressions, he climbed into the van explaining that he’d been run over by a car last year, so he was moving a little slowly because his leg had received a lot of injuries at that time and it now slowed him down. We all got settled into the van, George in the front passenger seat and he turned around and smiled and said, “Let’s look at the group!” We all responded with “Hi, George!” in unison which made him chuckle. We were off.
I sat there, feeling a little too self satisfied. We were doing good…this I knew…and what? We need gas? Great, I thought, he’s going to have second thoughts and bolt at the gas station. What would we do if this happened? This being my first outing with the group, ALL of this was new territory. I was making it up as I went along. I tried to engage George when he spoke.
A word here. I am writing this from my point of view so I have a bit of tunnel vision that makes it seem like I was the only one speaking to George, I was not. I just simply cannot remember what everyone said…and trust me, other people were speaking to George; it wasn’t just me. There were 10 of us in the van, George included.
part two…coming soon.
I cry for my friend
for what she is feeling
and for what is to come
I cry for my own loss
and my weakness
I cry to let go
and I cry to hold on
I cry to bear the burdens that
overwhelm those I care for
i cry for love
I seem to have been trampled by summer….was my last post really the first week of summer???
Many of you, okay, maybe one or two, may wonder what I have been up to. I ask myself this often: “Amy, what have you been doing with your time?” And I will admit, that I have not been using my time to it best potential, but I have been busy.
The first part of this summer I spent catching up on all of the medical appointments I hadn’t gotten to over the last year due to Andy’s changing jobs and consequently, insurance policies. I felt like the scarecrow from Oz being re stuffed with fresh hay in the Emerald City. New crown (for my tooth, not my head), a general physical, which lead to specific physical (nuff said), a visit to a new eye doctor, and if it doesn’t stop hurting, I will be escorting my elbow to the orthopedic surgeon. Phew! I had planned at some point to get to the foot doctor as I need to schedule surgery for the bone spur on my big toe…haven’t gotten there yet, will wait for cooler weather.
The first day of school was yesterday, Grace handled it with ease although she did come home saying, “I like school, but I don’t like school”…it could be worse I am sure! It is so odd going through this after having gone through it with Christina and Kelly. I knew nothing except my own geeky middle school experience and was pretty much a deer in the headlights when Christina went all athletic and cheer on me 😀 It all worked out though, we survived and learned a lot and Grace has two big sisters with lots of good advice.
Ok, I am off to make breakfast burritos and freeze them, thank you, Pinterest!
Ok, here we are, Friday…end of the first week of summer. Here is what I have accomplished:
- Joined the Rec Center and started working out again (Yay me!)
- Accomplished some tricky DB work for a client with help from DH.
- Started the elimination of STUFF from the master bedroom that has been living there since the beginning of the master closet remodel (which isn’t quite done yet, but I am hoping the purge will spur the completion of that project)
Items that need to happen:
- Better chore definition for Grace, instead of random chores, clearly define daily/weekly chores for the Miss.
- Lots of extra laundry due to the purge.
- Freecycle listings to come (DTP = due to purge)
- Getting Grace on a better sleep cycle, she has already plunged herself into the “summer” schedule of staying up late and sleeping in….
- Summer writing project, something for me 🙂
I could keep going with the “need to happen” list, but I am trying to to overwhelm my project load 🙂
Stay tuned, I hope to post Sunday after working at church!
It is the first week of summer, do I have a plan? Well, no. I have ideas, I have things I need/want to get done, I have work that has to be done and currently I have a kitten who likes to scale my legs with her sharp sharp claws while I am working, not exactly the positive reinforcement working needs right now.
However! 33333333333333333333333333333333333 (sorry – kitten on the keyboard)
However! I am looking forward to this summer, why? Well, for one thing, it has not been unbearably hot this year, which means, I can grow plants and they will actually live. So I have
tomatoes, and peppers started as well as radishes and basil, thyme, lemon balm and of course, rosemary! Yay! The farmers market has already beckoned me and has resulted in an early batch of pickles….more to follow!
I also have landscaping going on in the front yard for the first time in about 4-5 years. I cannot tell you how depressing it was to come
home year after year and see empty landscaping where there had been quite lush shrubs for years. I still to this day, don’t really know why Andy felt the need to have all the shrubs torn out without a plan, A.D.D. has it’s privileges, I guess…nevertheless, we are moving forward and with a plan and an occasional impulse purchase of a 400 lb. rock for “accent”, the landscape is moving forward.