Spare a Thought For The Homeless.
I watched the elderly lady walking along the road,
No, Not really walking. her feet , she could not lift above the ground.
It was more like pushing one foot forward, then the other...A Shuffle.
Yes! That's it.! She was shuffling along whilst bent over her walking stick.
In her other hand ----- a shopping bag.
I wondered what was in it?
I hoped she was making her way to a tiny cottage,
Easy to keep warm.
Or maybe to a room of her own in a house
full of friends or family.
I was to be disappointed.
When reaching the next corner
The old lady turned left.....
I couldn't help but follow.
To my dismay, the road was short.
A great stone wall at the end of it.
No sign of a pretty cottage,
Not even a small apartment.
My eyes followed the old lady to the
farthest corner of this cul-de-sac.
A shopping cart was hidden under sheets of plastic.
She pulled the plastic away to reveal all her worldly goods.
A sleeping bag. A stout pair of walking boots and some extra clothes.
Now she took off her coat, replacing it with a warm sweater from her cart.
She put her coat back on and placed one hand in her pocket,
Then , she pulled out a hat. After pulling it tight over her head almost
obliterating her face, she proceeded to don the boots..
So there she was on a damp, cold road climbing into her sleeping bag.
Her own little space with her walking stick closely at her side.
I wondered what she would do next.....I wanted to pass her a pillow.
As she reached into her shopping bag I saw that it was her supper time.
A bedraggled sandwich she pulled out and ate it, seeming content.
Then she reached into her bag again and an apple she pulled out.
This lady is no novice to living on the street, l thought,
For it was a Swiss army knife that l next saw in her hand.
She used the knife to cut her apple into small pieces
and l could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.
A Swiss army knife! How clever. It means she has not only a knife, but scissors,
A screwdriver, bottle opener..........and more.
She has something to cut her food but she also has a weapon.!.
Everything she needs for living in her tiny place on this tiny street.
My image of elderly ladies sitting in rocking chairs, with grandchildren
running around , a warm hearth, a hot meal...........that image now disintegrated.
How naive l was to think the way l did.
Millions of people have no family to care from them.
So many have no-one at all.
I wanted to help but did not know how.
I recalled my early mornings at the harbour
Where l met a sun-brown, wrinkled sailor.
He was always sleeping on the beach or in a shop doorway if the night was breezy.
But that was a few light years ago in my past. In a land of warm weather.
That man was happy.
Here, The cold weather can kill!!!.
What do l do? How do l help?
How many more are like her?
As l walked away, the elderly lady
had cuddled into her sleeping bag
Stuffed some newspapers in it with her,
and looked almost content as she closed
her eyes with her walking stick close to her chest.