Fringe People

Jeremy is Mike’s son. And fortunately for the world, he is a lot like his dad. A very caring person. He’s a teacher.. the kind you only get one of during your life. And then only if you are lucky. Here’s his reaction to this story…

OK so my Dad is the one who can get me write and respond. Just this past weekend, it was bitterly cold about -5 with the wind chill and I noticed a elderly woman having a hard time making it through the Walmart parking lot. She was walking with a cane, but moving extremely slowly. So I went up and asked it she could use a hand. I helped her into the store. Found out she had hip surgery and the doctor said walking would do her good, but she didn’t realize it was so cold out. I helped her with the returns she had to make, get a few things, and then back to the car. Just the sweetest, nicest lady. When I got her back to her car, she blessed me. Can’t remember when the last time i was blessed, but it was very nice.

There was an article written by a local newspaper columnist about two men who had recently died in a fire in local laundromat, trying to seek shelter and warmth on a cold night.

The article was informative and moving – giving quite a bit information about these two men who slipped through the cracks.
 Both of them working day-to-day jobs,
  both of them homeless,
   both of them loved by those who took the time to know them.

The article got me thinking about some of the “fringe” people in my life.
People who unknowingly touched my life in some ways.

Here are three of them.

Last fall, I had to ride the bus to work for a week, waiting for my car to be repaired. On one morning trips, I noticed an old guy – probably in his mid-80s, getting on board at a stop near mine, wearing a fisherman’s hat and a red jacket and two canes hanging from his neck.

I remembered him from 11 years back, when I had first seen him. I had been riding my bike to work for most of a year (Joy was pregnant with Andrew, and needed the car for school), I had seen him “trotting” some parts of the route I used for my bike route. Even back then, he wore a red jacket and a fisherman’s hat, carrying one stick – probably as a protection against dogs. I had seen him occasionally throughout the years, though not in the past year or two.

He got off the bus at Cicero Ave, and started heading back toward his boarding stop 2 miles east in Evergreen Park.

And those two canes around his neck… They were hung there so that he could board the bus with both hands free. On his trip back – which he must have done thousands of times over the years, he was now using both canes for support. What an example of perseverence.

For a while at church, I noticed a guy about my age. Over a period of 2 years or so, at 9:00 AM Sunday Masses. Kind of worn and ragged looking. Always alone, but never “sullen” – he would smile and shake hands during the “kiss/hansdshake of peace” part, but not talk or socialize before or after Mass. Could have been a vet. But also kind of like a big surfer dude.

Hadn’t seen him for a month or so. Then saw his photo on the church doors, along with his name. And the words, “Missing. Have you seen this man?”
I don’t know who posted the picture.
Or what happened to the man.
Or what exactly did he find of value and importance at our church??

We have a happy guy at church too.
Got to be about 89.
Always intently listening to the reading and homily.
Always singing energetically during the songs.
Always sincerely smiling and enjoying the service as if it were the best feature of the day.
Always alone.
His name is Norm.
If he happens to be there when I am the lector, he always comes up to me afterwards and compliments me, telling that I read as if he were listening to “Paul himself, preaching to the Galatians”; (or “Isaiah prophesying to the Israelites”) And I tell him that it’s all because God writes good material.
But inwardly I glow at the compliment, and try to do my best each time I read. To give the readings heart-felt meaning.
I haven’t seen him in a while.
Last time, he was very steady on his feet.
I hope he’s okay.
I wish I had his sense of joy.

I hope your lives are filled with “characters”.
 People on the fringe.
  People you notice.
You not know them, but life would be bland without them.
Be kind to them.
They could be angels.