Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

 Yes, it IS a happy new year... 2013 will take us what, 3 months to remember to write on whatever checks people are still writing, in this age of paying bills on line.  And sad to say there will be no date of 13-13-13 this year to celebrate anyone with that sports jersey.

Still we have a lot to be thankful for... people if you are reading this in the comfort of a home or office, you should be thankful for a roof over your head and a warm place to be.  We are having very low temperatures this week.  Not a record but very cold!

I sent a holiday donation to the M----- Rescue Mission.  When the wind chill goes below 10 degrees the shelters and soup kitchens and other charitable locations open their doors to the homeless for the nights as well as the days.  I cannot image being homeless in a climate where the extremes have gone from actual temperatures over 100 to below zero!  There but for the grace of God, folks!
When I was a child my maternal grandmother's bachelor brother used to visit her home once in a while.  He had been in the Merchant Marine, and I believe he may have served in World War I.  His name was Albert, but everyone called him Ollie.  We kids used to call him Ollie the Sea Captain.  He was a gentle, quiet man who had a problem with alcohol. 

He used to live on the streets of our fair city, and was served by various charities including the MRM.  He ate a lot of meals there. He once said they were his only friends. 

Sometimes he would ride the bus down and come to visit his sister.

My grandmother gave birth to 13 children, all but the youngest at home.  She had a generous and forgiving heart, and she loved her family probably more than anything.  She loved my grandfather, probably more than he ever realized.  He had his own demons, among them a weakness for pretty ladies.  My grandmother always forgave him, but she used the threat of who knows what to get things from him that she wanted (usually something for someone in her life, like Ollie).

When Grandma got sad or concerned about her brother, she would make my grandpa go downtown to bring him home to their house.  She'd clean him up and dry him out.  He'd sit on a bench in the yard and tell us stories of the sea.  Or he'd sit quietly in the living room and stare out the window.  Then something would happen, and he would either have words with Grandpa or start to drink and he'd eventually end up downtown again, and at the Mission.

The last time I saw Uncle Ollie he seemed so sad.  The ten year old me felt bad that he had no family except for a couple of sisters, and that no one really seemed to care about what happened to him.  It didn't seem like the adults took time to think about him much, even though they were his nieces and nephews.  There must have been a reason for that -- now that I'm an adult I realize that maybe no one knew why his life was so messed up.  People of that generation did not talk about their feelings as much as we do now.

So one day we were visiting our grandparents.  We had moved to another state, and had come back for the weekend.  We were excited to see our grandparents again, so we were our usual boisterous selves.  Grandma said we had to be quiet in the house because Uncle Ollie was sick, and he was sleeping in Grandpa's room, right off the kitchen.  We were in the sun room at the front of the house.  We heard a thump from the bedroom.  Grandma got up to check and she came out looking sad.

Then she did something very uncharacteristic for her.  She told us we had to leave right away.  We had walked over from our Aunt Louise's house and it was only a few blocks so we ran out the back door and away we went.  But we knew something was wrong.

Later we found out that the reason she shooed us all away was that Uncle Ollie had collapsed and died in the bedroom.  She had found him slumped over on the bed, with one sock on and the other in his hand.  I bet he had heard us, and was getting up to visit when he died.  My grandma arranged his funeral and he was buried in one of their cemetery plots. 

Pool Ollie, he didn't even have a roof over his head most of the time!  If it hadn't been for the Rescue Mission, he might not have lived as long as he did.  Without their compassion he probably would have starved or frozen to death on the streets of downtown.

So if you have the urge to feel sorry for yourself, don't!   You are using a computer so you probably live in a building, with heat.  If you need assistance, it's there in many shapes and forms.  You probably have a few dollars in your pocket, and you're pretty sure you will have something to eat today.  You'll sleep in a warm bed.

If there is a charity where you are that takes care of the homeless, you might consider sending them a few of those dollars.  Make sure it's a good one, where most of the money goes to the needy, not the administration of the charity.  Be generous.  Someone else's Uncle Ollie might need it.

Thanks to the Creator for providing me with all I need.

Sew on!