Our Saturday started with the rumble of a thunderstorm. We were rushing to spread soil across the back of our lot, finishing a French drain before our deck frame is started. As we felt the drops, we rushed for the house. We barely made it before the bottom fell out. Our plan to lay the ground work was thwarted, again. Our historic Charleston renovation has lingered on and on, and we are both rather impatient to live in a complete house. This type of interruption tends to put us both in a bad mood from frustration, but it cannot be helped.We were planning to attend a neighbor’s open house art drop-in after our work was done. With our newfound schedule change, we made our way over earlier than planned. The main artist featured, Warm Glass by Keller was displaying his hand-blown and painted ornaments and jewelry regularly available in a shop on Church Street near the famous Charleston market.
I was amazed at the quality of his workmanship in each of the displays and found several one of kind pieces to keep and share. As an added bonus, we walked around their house, and were equally impressed with the quality of workmanship in the house design. The homeowner is a local architect and his dream for this house, which doubled as a neighborhood store in its earlier life, was impressive. His attention to detail with an open ceiling making the space feel large, the exposed rafters and original fireplace restored, and the respect for the history of those years added depth and warmth. My favorite feature was their terrace highlighted by glass and multiple lighted doors along the western exposure. The space felt inviting and from that direction, Congress street and our home were clearly visible. My heart swelled, how far the neighborhood has come in the 5 years that we lived here.
After making the neighborly introductions and deciding on our purchases, we both walked down the street to visit Mrs. Rebecca, a elderly neighbor. Her daughter was visiting from New York City and we hope to connect with her, exchange our contact information, so her daughter could call on us to check on Mrs. Rebecca should she have concerns for her mother. As we visited with them at their front gate, the drizzle stopped, and the sun came out. I could see Greg wanted to get back to building the foundation of our deck. We moseyed home, and I decided to sweep our sidewalk facing Congress Street. As I was gathering up debris and droppings from the city’s Crepe Myrtle, planted along the front of our house, a young man came around the corner just past the artists’ open house. His face showed such relief to see I was out. A part of me thought, “Oh, no, he is approaching me.” I was upset. “Now what?”, I thought. My lack of compassion wasn’t as obvious on my face, but it was my lingering attitude.
“Are you Mr. Greg’s wife?” the man stepped closer into my space and extended his hand.
“I am, how can I help you?”
“Ma’am, I am homeless and in such a bad way this morning.”
“Are you hungry? Can I get you something to eat? Some water?” The walls that were up began to come down. I could see he was hurting.
“I am that, ma’am, and that’d help me. But I could use a bar of soap, and a facecloth to wash up, and I need to wash my clothes.”
“Let me see what I can get together for you. Wait here.”
“While you look, let me help you finish sweeping.”
“Well, you wouldn’t have to…I’ll be back in a minute.”
The gentleman insisted on taking my broom and he started where I left off. I hurried inside and quickly scrambled around for a few items from my pantry. I found protein bars, tuna, and beef jerky and a bag of cheese crackers to help him diminish his hunger. I grabbed a bar of soap, a washcloth and hand towel, clean socks and a T-Shirt. I came out with a few singles and change robbed from Greg’s change jar held together in a sandwich baggie and a plastic bag of the other items.
He was off, and regardless of his words, I saw the thankfulness on his face. The simple bag of items lightened his burden and sense of hopelessness. He must have been by in weeks past, and Greg helped him when I was inside or on a errand. What touched me most was his face when he came around the corner of Senate Street, I saw the look on his face. He knew if Greg were out, he’d have compassion on him. Seeing him head down the street with a lightness in his step, I knew the storm was put in my path, upset my morning placing me on the front sweeping the sidewalk at just that moment, something I rarely do on a Saturday. It wasn’t a coincidence. I came back into the house, sat in my chair, and suddenly I was weeping. Greg had come in for a drink, and saw me falling apart and keeled down next to me as the story poured out.
My friends have homes in gated communities to insulate themselves. And where we live, the struggle is real, walking down our sidewalks daily. My tears as I sat in my chair were screaming, stop complaining. The house isn’t done and some of the issues are tiresome. But my basic needs are met. A clean bed, healthy food, a warm shower when I need to clean up are all part of my every day life. And more than that, my family and friends love me enough to take me in should I need help. I have a job and my husband takes care of me. I am rich in what matters most. Today, I was in the right place at the right time for this young man suffering at the most basic level, his unwanted visit made me take a step back. So it rained today, and the deck was postponed. This house will eventually get done. The sun came out, in God’s time. And more than that, I can count on it coming out again tomorrow.
|I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them. In order to maintain their anonymity in some instances I have changed the names of individuals and places, I may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations and places of residence.|