A body found last night -- Was it Fred?

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This is an update on the original hub. I wrote:

“I am on pins and needles this morning waiting for a phone call. You see, my son called me last night and said that a body had been found near some railroad tracks, and the ID on the body was that of his friend, Fred. He said that his and Fred’s mutual friends were calling everyone they knew to see if anyone knew of Fred’s whereabouts. No one had seen him in three days. Regardless of the outcome, I want to paint the picture of Fred, the human being, not the statistic.”

Sadly, we learned that the body was Fred. The real story was far different from what we had been told. His body wasn’t just found near the tracks, and there was no suspicion of foul play. He was killed on the tracks by a train. The video from the train’s camera showed that he walked onto the tracks and the train couldn’t stop. Upon hitting Fred, the train stopped and the authorities were called. Fred’s death was ruled a suicide. His friends all say that Fred would have never committed suicide because his strong Catholic faith would not have allowed him to kill himself. They all agreed that he had never exhibited any suicidal tendencies despite his personal problems. The circumstances of this death leave us wondering why Fred didn’t hear the appproaching train.

Fred was legally blind and may not have seen the train. Fred was also homeless. He had people who cared about him, but nobody seemed to know how to help. Three years ago, I became acquainted with Fred when he lived with my son, henceforce called "Junior", for a few months.

By the way, Fred was his real name, but out of respect for his family, I still won't give his last name. I liked him and I called him “Fred Flintstone” in order to distinguish him from another friend of Junior’s with the same first name. He thought it was funny. Frankly, I think he enjoyed it because I thought enough of him to give him a nickname.

Fred found a job as a cook in the cafeteria at the Lighthouse for the Blind. It was within walking distance from the house, so living there was convenient for him. Then he suffered a flareup from a back injury he already had and was forced to leave his job. Fred was also a recovering alcoholic and after this setback, he fell off the wagon. He agreed to go into a rehabilitation program, which was a residential program, and he moved out of Junior's house.

This program lasted several months and when it was completed, he attended Alcoholics Anonymous on a fairly regular basis. By that time, Junior had acquired another roommate and there was not enough room in their small house for Fred to move back in. He moved to a homeless shelter on that side of town run by a Christian organization. To stay in residence, a person had to attend Sunday church services at the shelter. Fred had a problem with generic religious services because he was a devout Catholic. He insisted on attending Mass, which at his church was held at the same time as the services at the shelter. Whenever he went to Mass, he had to remove his few personal belongings from the shelter because he was not allowed to return that evening.

This cross is made of concrete. It is a perfect symbol of the concrete hardline views of the Christian homeless shelter.
This cross is made of concrete. It is a perfect symbol of the concrete hardline views of the Christian homeless shelter. | Source

On those occasions he would stay at Junior’s house. Then the “Christians” would allow him back into the shelter until the next time he went to Mass. I use the quotation marks around “Christians” because I find their views to be superficial. It is their shelter, and they can admit or forbid admittance to anyone they wish. However, the fact that this man was trying to put his life back together and kept being booted out of this shelter for going to church seems like an antithesis to the practice of Christianity to me.

The last I heard, Fred was sleeping on a park bench. Junior said Fred sometimes came by the house to do his laundry and occasionally stayed a day or two, especially in bad weather. He said that Fred had several friends at whose homes he sometimes stayed.

Fred received help but why was it inadequate? Was it his fault or a failure of the system, or both? Fred was blind and had a very painful back injury, the combination of which should have qualified him for disability. Junior said that Fred applied at one time for Social Security Disability, so what happened there? Was a blind man with a bad back turned down? Disability is difficult to get, so did they make it so hard he gave up? He was one of the deserving people who should have qualified. With a regular check and food stamps coming in each month, he might have been able to rent a small apartment and get his life back together. If only he could have stopped drinking

Junior had made the statement that if the body was that of Fred, it would be no surprise to him and his friends. He said that Fred had been hospitalized several times after being beaten and robbed by other homeless people. Once he was so severely beaten that he was in the hospital for two days with a bruised spleen. They were not surprised that Fred was dead, just at how he died.

Fred is not one of those cases in which a person is homeless because of poverty. Neither did Fred choose to be homeless, but he was controlled by demon rum. He came from a comfortable middle-class family. He was divorced and had a daughter who is now in her 20s, and she is coming home for her father’s funeral. Fred will have a decent funeral and interment by the family who loved him, which is more than many homeless people can expect.

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Comments 36 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Nothing but sadness my friend, no matter how this turns out. I hope it isn't your friend, but the story you tell is heartwrenching all the same. So many out there with Fred's story, and so little being done to help them.

Keep us posted. We are all rooting for Fred I'm sure.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Thank you, Bill. We still haven't heard any news. My son said that he is resigned to bad news, and I think I'm taking it harder than he is.


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

MizBejabbers,

Oh my heart is breaking. There is so much sad and heart wrenching here. I am so disappointed in the system, how can we even call something a system when it doesn't seem to work systematically? I'm equally disappointed with that shelter you spoke about. How do we pick and choose who we help and under what circumstances?

My heart and thoughts are with you and those involved... I hope there isn't such a tragic ending.

Up and others ~ Sharing too!

Cat


SoundNFury profile image

SoundNFury 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Wow this was very powerful. I wish for the best possible outcome for everybody. Thank you for sharing this.


writinglover profile image

writinglover 3 years ago from Lost...In Poetry

My thoughts and prayers to you and everyone involved as well. I'm not surprised that these people would turn him away. This is just a personal view of mine, btw, but it's still disappointing that those so-called "Christians" would not help a fellow human being just because their views differed. May there be some hope!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

There is something disastrously wrong with our 'system,' when a 'Fred Flintstone' like the person you described is unable to get assistance from the government.


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 3 years ago from Malaga, Spain

Please do keep us informed, those "Christians' need to read the lines that say "in as much as you do this to the least of you...."

Thank you for reporting this, I pray that Fred is OK in the end whatever has happened.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend, a very sad story here and hopefully it not Fred they found. If we keep letting our government cut or poorly fund programs that could have helped out Fred and people like him, they will be finding more bodies. It's a shame that benefits are cut for the poor and homeless, but not for those who make up government......


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Thank you all, Cat, SoundNFury, writinglover, drbj, aguasilver, and kashmir. I love you all for your comments, so I am going to do a "blanket" reply because I am going to have to do a rewrite. Sadly, the body was Fred, the details of his death differed entirely from what we were originally told, which was a major communications failure, and we don't know where the breakdown occurred. It is really heartbreaking because we don't know why he was at the tracks in the first place unless he went there to drink. From what I was told, his family didn't reject him, but they didn't want him around unless he was sober. I didn't get to be around him that much and I only saw him when he was sober. But I liked him and I'm sorry I will never see him again.


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

MizBejabbers,

No!... I'm so sorry. My condolences to you and all of his loved ones. I was so hoping this wasn't going to be the case.

Cat


writinglover profile image

writinglover 3 years ago from Lost...In Poetry

Hi, MizBejabbers!

I'm sorry for the horrible news. Nobody deserves that kind of fate. My heart goes out to you and everyone in this tragedy.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Cat and writinglover, dearhearts, thank you so much for your interest in Fred and your condolences. I think I'm taking it worse than my son is. But guys don't show their feelings that much.


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 3 years ago from Malaga, Spain

This guy does, such a death is a tragedy, may his soul rest in peace.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Aguasilver, I like and respect men who show their feelings. Thanks for showing yours.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 3 years ago from Minnesota

I am so sad and sorry to hear of this tale of Fred. What a hard life he lived. I wish some true Christians would have helped him. God bless you and your son for giving him some security and love in his life.


Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

MizBejabbers,

I'm sorry I'm ten days late to your comment, life has been so crazy lately.

I hope you're finding some peace and each day is getting just a little easier.

Cat


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Minnetonka Twin and Cat, thanks for the comments. I still feel a little sadness when I think of him. I can only imagine what his family is going through.

To all who have commented: Fred had a very nice funeral. I didn't get to go, but my son said that the priest said (paraphrasing now) "in spite of the fact that Fred didn't treat himself very well, he was a good person."


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Thanks for sharing Fred's story. So sad, so sad. I know that it takes 2 years to get disability once one applies, which makes no sense. People like Fred should be able to get some help. I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you shared Fred's story with such compassion. I'm sure there are many more homeless that deserve the same.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Thank you, Vickie, for your compassion. The more I talk to my son, the more I'm coming to believe that Fred was his own worst enemy. Mr. B got his disability in one try and after only two months, but he was ordered by a judge to apply after a near-fatal heart attack and he couldn't work. I guess he was just lucky that the judge was worried that he couldn't pay his child support. My son's neighbor got hers after she went to an attorney who had formerly worked for the SSA. I guess that is the secret. You've got to go through the legal system.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

This is so sad, how did a blind guy not get the help he needed? in this day and age its just appalling, so sorry to hear about this, ironically enough in my town last week a guy also got run over by a train. I didn't know him, but its not the first time its happened. The train in question passes by a small crossing near the woods, the actual crossing is a gate that swings open, no lights, no signs. The only thing we can think of was that maybe he had headphones on or didn't realise that the train had changed its time table, living here, we all tend to know the time of the one and only train that goes on the hour, nell


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Hi Nell, the sad thing is that he was fired from his job at an organization that allegedly helps Blind People because of a back injury. Could they not have found him a sit-down job? The shelter rejected him on Sunday evenings because he was a Christian of a different denomination. If anything would drive a recovering alcoholic to drink. That would. Thank you for the read and your interesting story.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

It is terrible some of his family did not help him get assistance no matter what they had against him. A blind man...but I guess there are plenty of homeless that should be on disability, look at the old ladies and men so old...there should be an organization just to help these people with all the billions that get tossed around surely. I am so sorry. So much senseless cruelty in this world and it is not many of us so near to it as you were. Thanks for sharing.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Fred was a very sweet and likeable man when he was sober. Thankfully, I never saw him drinking. Alcohol addiction is such a devastating illness, but people tend to look down on those addicted. Thank you for your considerate comment. I agree with you that the homeless deserve help.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA

This is terrible. I don't get why the shelter turned him away like that when he did attend a church. A few days ago, I went through and read a lot of the homeless stories. Most are either alcoholic or laid off and can't get decent jobs. Many it is through no fault of their own. God bless your son for helping him when he could.


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 3 years ago from Central Virginia

Oh Miz B - this is so sad. I finally had some time today and as I read this, I couldn't help but think how wonderful it was that Fred had your family for the time he did. As tragic and mysterious as his ending was, surely he knew that he was loved by your family.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Barbara, I think it just illustrates the feud going on between the Catholics and the Protestants since the days of Henry VIII. Ironically, I did find out that that the railroad tracks where Fred was killed wasn't too far from the Compassion Center where he had been staying through the week. He was drinking that Wednesday night when he was killed, so they would not have let him in anyway. Alcoholics can be their own worst enemy. If only someone could invent a pill that cured their addiction .... That would be most helpful. Thank you for your comment.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Linda, I'm so glad to hear from you. I'm so sorry that Fred had to die, but I have to ponder whether he would have ever sobered up. The more I find out about him, the more I wonder. He had a family who loved him but couldn't live with him, and he had friends, including my son, who cared but couldn't live with him. What a horrible disease alcoholism is, but prohibition certainly isn't the answer either. By the way, Fred's daughter did come in from out of state for his funeral, and so did his parents and siblings. I hope they got some comfort from being together. Thanks for reading and commenting, friend. I hope you are back to stay awhile and that things are going better for you and your family.


lrc7815 3 years ago

Miz B - I completely agree about the horrors of alcoholism. I lived with someone who could not beat it for 15 years so I know it all too well. I chose to divorce both the disease and the man. lol

Things are beginning to settle down and although I don't yet have time to be back with the same intensity, I am hoping to get a little writing done and a lot of catch up reading in the coming days. Thanks for caring.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Linda, re: your first paragraph -- same here except it was 10 years in my case.


annart profile image

annart 3 years ago from SW England

I'm reading this backwards because I haven't read the first hub about Fred yet (didn't notice - that'll teach me!). However, it's such a sad story and an unfortunate ending. It must be hard for you and your son to deal with it, knowing him as you did and being so interested in his well-being. I too am shocked at the treatment he received from the shelter; I'm sure it's not typical of such places. There are too many stories of people like this and it shouldn't happen nowadays. Your caring nature shines through, as does your indignation at such a case. A well-written piece with a message to all of us. Ann


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago Author

Thanks for your kind words, Ann. You are reading it right. I first wrote the story before the body was identified and I was upset. Then I came back and updated it when there was a positive ID. I believe your profile said that you are English, so I will say that it is the typical operation of Christian shelters in the U.S. Here the church-run shelters have the right to require people to attend their church services before they get fed or are allowed to stay the night. I think any true Christian, however, should respect another Christian church's beliefs. But this country was built on the right to differ with another's religion, so it gave Fred the right to sit out in the cold after he practiced his. Harsh isn't it?


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

A very powerful story. So sorry to know a man is gone. How upsetting this must have been for your son. Blessings.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago Author

Thank you, Klidstone. Yes, he still feels Fred's loss deeply.


fivesenses profile image

fivesenses 2 years ago from new delhi

Very touching story...but alot of people end up this way when it gets hard surviving in an insensitive world.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago Author

Yes, sometimes survival in this world is difficult, especially when we manufacture our own problems. Thanks for the read and the comment.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

This was a sad and toucing story MzBejabbers. The fact it was true made it all the more emotional. I am sorry that Fred died in such a terrible fashion. His life was difficult enough being blind, homeless,with a bad back. You can understand why he drank.It is sad to hear about that church shelter turning him away each time he attended his own churches services. Has there been any update on whether t was in fact a suicide, or was it just due to his inebriation? Voted up.

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