Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Rock

[Note: Though I carefully remove names of Bread & Roses' guests to protect their confidentiality, we at Bread & Roses try hard to share the names and stories of the dead in order to honor their memory. So I have not removed names in this post.]

Three months after I joined the staff at Bread & Roses a man came to our door in desperate need. Terry Seibert was one of the long-time homeless, nicknamed “Crusty”. He was an alcoholic with a pocked face and bulbous nose, a scratchy voice and a permanent scowl.

He arrived at the Transit Center one day, having just been released from the hospital with a severe case of congestive heart failure. The bus drivers wouldn’t allow him to board because he had soiled himself so badly. He could barely walk. The Transit Center staff called the Advocacy Center and asked us if we could help him, so I walked over and invited him to come over.

I am ashamed to say that I recoiled a bit at his odor, and asked him to stand outside a few minutes while we arranged a shower and a change of clothes. One of the other volunteers gave me a severe look and invited him to come in and sit in our bathroom. Terry was pale, short of breath, and dizzy.

We got him showered and cleaned up, and I arranged a bed for him in our shelter. The next day, Selena rented Terry a hotel room. A struggle ensued to place him in a nursing home, lasting two weeks. No-one would take him.

Selena visited Terry daily. They had been friends when Selena worked in the soup kitchen. Terry and Selena shared a great fondness for good literature, and had spent hours at the old kitchen discussing poetry and trading books. On her last visit with Terry, Selena came into his room and asked Terry how he was doing. He replied, “Where is the life that we have lost in the living?”

It was a line from “The Rock”, by T.S. Eliot. Terry died the next day.

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Currently Reading:

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