Jeff almost died from an overdose last month, but by sheer luck and/or the Grace of God he did not! This is what he told me when I paused to say hello on my way to a long postponed mammogram; a symptom of severe anxiety drives me to defer essential medical appointments among other things, but this year I am pushing forward and forcing myself do what may seem simple to you.
One evening he decided to treat himself to a twenty piece of crack, purchasing the product from an established local dealer, stopping at the empty bus shelter on Flemington to have a “quick puff” before trudging through the snow up a steep ridge, then descending the ravine and settling into his tent for the night. The drug was an afterthought; the pleasure of a crackling glow to ease the darkness of loneliness. Having purchased extra batteries at the dollar store beforehand, the short term plan was to smoke the rest while listening to the game on his portable radio. Instead, Jeffry passed out the second he inhaled. Continue reading “Still Alive!”
Seeking solace and a blessed place to say her prayers, Streetgirl flew her sign yesterday, straddling the curb and strolling up and down the island. Those same paths that her panning peer, so-tagged The Veteran, had ambled thousands of times. It was chilly, but they’d been out in far worse weather and enjoyed it too; a freedom of sorts. If it was Joe he would be wearing a toque, thin shirt under a jacket year-round day and night, and sandals without socks; even though someone had given him a pair of boots two months before his passing. Thrilled to tell the tale, how he’d been snoozing in the sun behind the gas station when a guy came by and offered to take him to Canadian Tire to buy a winter coat and footwear. One of so many kind gestures afforded him by strangers. That night they dumped his dirty smelly old one down the garbage shoot in our building as a ceremonial gesture and he donned the gift until the day he died. Continue reading “Quotes from Streets: Farewell Friend”
Looks like an ideal spot for a nap by the lake, doesn’t it? Not! This is a hammock hung by a Canadian Aboriginal homeless man on a steep slope of trees and bushes along the edge of the highway leading to the Allan Road Ramp where he panhandles on a daily basis.
January 2018: “Stay warm,” the man said to the panhandler in sincerity passing her a bag of stuff.
When she got home after pulling off the many layers and warming up a while, Streetgirl unpacked the contents, crackers, chocolate, and Campbell’s Beef Broth. The can was strangely heavy. Hearing loud rattling when shaken, she put it down quickly; because for a second it flashed that the product could have been sabotaged and might possibly explode in her hands. Panners are sometimes targeted by haters and there are those who will not consume food or drink given them for fear of poisoning. Once, a young man spit in a coffee, passed it to her, and laughed with his friends as he drove away. She has heard far worse stories. Cautious yes, but it’s not like her to be paranoid, so she picks it back up and realizes that while the outside is no longer cold, nor is she, the soup inside is frozen and a shiver runs up her spine. Continue reading “Quotes from Streets: “Stay Warm!””
*previously published on http://www.homelessguide.com/
The morning sun brightens Streetgirl’s long hair and tans her face as she stands at the ramp holding a sign that says, “BROKE + HUNGRY – PLEASE HELP – GOD BLESS – PEACE.” A line from the chorus of a Rag’N’Bone Man’s song is rolling repeatedly through her mind, “Don’t put your blame on me.” The earworm has been wedged for days, but should clear out soon to be replaced by another. Last week it was The Beatles, “Here comes the sun.”
On the red light a female driving a black van and wearing a niqab pulls to a stop. She happens to lock eyes with Streets who beams broadly, because that is the way she is. It’s impossible to tell if the devout Muslim smiles back from beneath the heavy veil, but she is moved by the moment, reaching for her clutch and scooping out a handful of coins to pass to the panhandler without a word.
Soon after, a woman of Asian descent, behind the wheel of a small red car, silver electrical tape holding the side mirror together and rust circling the door; she stretches out her arm with an offering of two sweet clementine in hand. Continue reading “Diversity of Compassion”
I took this photo late November 2012. Looking at it today, I am still stricken by the incongruity of the Nike symbol on the shoes, the Canadian flag hanging so prominent, and the Allen Expressway in the back ground; bold statements in a harsh environment. Continue reading “We are Canadian”