Early one spring morning, I gazed out my 11th floor bedroom window to see a couple already awaken from a night’s sleep on the street. They were sheltered by the overhang of the old central library’s roof, with its cement carving of the head of Socrates, looking down. And with shade disappearing fast, it figured to be another hot, humid day.
Regardless, she rests her head on his shoulders – anyone could tell she loves him.
Soon, she goes about her self-appointed duties: changing and re-arranging their worldly possessions within a grocery store’s shopping cart. Taking another drag on his cigarette, he watches as she shakes out clothes and blankets in to-and-fro motion. As he sits, humped over – indifferent to a thousand eyes watching – his body language seems to ask, “How did I get here?”
Eventually, she brings him something to eat for breakfast… saved, no doubt, for this very moment. How much is her love worth to him, now? She loves him.
Now, they’ve a visitor. Ignoring the small-sized woman, he shuffles over to see “the man of the house.” He knows him – no doubt, sharing news of the streets. And her, keeping a safe distance, leaves them together – ‘brothers in arms.’ The visitor is seemingly conducting his rounds like any good businessman: customer service with free delivery… leaving them with a smile.
“I’ve seen the needle and the damage done
A little bit in everyone. But every junkie’s like a setting sun”
~ The Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young
Shortly afterwards, the man begins to stir… feeling better, now. Then, without a word, he gets up and leaves her there. And, her, pushing the full weight of her heavy cart over uneven sidewalks, struggles to catch up. Whether sharing his habit or not; she loves him.
“Love a guy who holds the world in a paper cup,
Drink it up, love him and he’ll bring you luck”
~ Danny’s Song by Anne Murray
Always wishing for something better – always knowing it will never be – she tries to understand… mutual respect is built on self-respect. Is it any wonder he has none for her? Maybe, she can’t help herself; maybe he knows it, as John Lennon observed, “Woman is the slave to the slaves.” Still, she loves him.
“A sweet little queen who can’t run away
It’s good to be king, whatever it pays”
~ It’s Good to be King by Tom Petty
A few weeks later, I see the same couple – easily recognizable with her erratic motions, arranging bedding for another night’s sleep – this time a local church’s front door. And he, not saying much, but still dragging on another cigarette in the chain, stands silently staring at something in the far away night’s sky. Life? – now fading away like the dying sunset.
If living with COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s to be kind and care – especially with the broken and most vulnerable among us.
“It’s these expressions I never give,
That keep me searching for a heart of gold”
~ Heart of Gold by Neil Young
May we all find and continue to share our hearts of gold with each other… today and always.
As Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” So, what do I know? Nothing, except she loves him.
Image is pixabay creative commons
Guest Author Bio
Fred Parry lives in Southern Ontario. He is a lover of people and a collector of stories, music, wisdom, and grandchildren. His newspaper column, Music in Me, can be found in ‘The New Hamburg Independent’ Metroland Media. His book, ‘The Music In Me’ (2013) Friesen Press is Available from Amazon and Indigo / Chapters.
Blog / Website: www.fredparry.ca