Posts Tagged ‘death’

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salvationarmy

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5 October 2012

At 10:15 this morning I entered the Kelly Funeral Home, Somerset Chapel, to attend the viewing and memorial service for Silver. Most of the viewing rooms were empty. I heard voices and walked into one of the rooms. I didn’t know if I was in the right room until I saw, at the front, two boards of photographs with Silver lettered on top. There must have been a dozen photos on each board. Many of the photos I wouldn’t have recognized. They were from Silver’s childhood, teenage years and as the adult that I had considered my friend for the past nine months. As I was looking, I was approached by a woman with blond hair, and a welcoming smile.

She asked, “Did you know Silver well?”

“Yes,” I answered, “I sat and talked with him nearly every day. In the mornings, in front of Starbucks, and at noon at ‘the benches’ at Confederation Park.”

“I’m Silver’s’s sister, Cathy, by the way.”

“Silver spoke fondly of you,”

“Did you also know that he has three brothers, a son and a grandchild? Did Silver mention that? I’ll introduce you to them when I see them.”

“Silver may have mentioned the rest of his family. The last time I saw him was about two weeks ago. He showed me the swelling of his ankle and varicose veins he was worried about. He said he had an appointment with his doctor that same day. Jacques mentioned that Silver’s stomach was swollen. We all noticed that he had lost weight, especially in his face, and were worried about him. Sometimes, he would sit alone and just gaze into the distance. It just seemed to be his way. It was a great shock to hear that he had passed away.

“What was given as the cause of death?”

“Liver failure. Swollen ankles and abdomen are symptoms of liver failure. Luckily the whole family was able to be at his bedside for the last week. His son and granddaughter, of course, his mother and father, his brothers, his nephew. We all had lots of stories. It was good to see Silver laugh.”

“Here’s Cody now, Silver’s son, and Cody’s daughter Jennifer, Jenny for short.”

“Hi, Cody, and Jenny. I knew your father well. I’m so sorry for your loss. You have a striking resemblance to your dad.”

“I know. I’m proud of it.”

Cathy said, Dennis have you met Steve?”

“Hi Steve.”

Linda said to Dave, “You saw John fairly regularly too, is that right?”

“Every day or so we’d go for a beer together. I lived next door to him at the Lafayette.”

Cathy said, “We’d lost contact with Silver. We didn’t know he was so close. He didn’t have a phone. If we’d know where he was we would have whisked him away.”

“Steve, how long was Silver at the Lafayette, about four years?”

“Nearly five years.”

“Dennis,” asked Cathy, ” what was your impression of Silver?”

“He was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man. He always had a smile to greet me. It was always a pleasure talking with him.”

Cathy said, “He was a glass-half-full kind of person, wasn’t he?”

“Yes,” I said, “He was always cheerful and optimistic.”

I saw Danny, Outcast, Spike, Shark and Irene. Outcast walked over to the photographs and said, “Here’s me with Silver, this other one is of me also, but my head is cut off.”

I said, “Outcast I’d recognize your crotch anywhere.”

Shark said, “We’re not staying for the service. We just came to pay our respects to Silver’s family, then we’ll raise a few glasses to Silver.”

Irene and I walked over and signed the visitor’s book. I saw Danny sitting down, so I went over and sat with him.

“I’m just on my way to Thunder Bay,” he said. “After I leave here I’m, going to the bus depot to pick up my tickets.”

I asked, “Is that where you’re from. Do you have family there?”

“My mother’s in hospital, so I want to spend time with her. She has had part of her colon removed. Now they’ve found more polyps in the remaining colon. Doctors want to remove another two inches. She doesn’t want to go through that again. She said, ‘I’m ready to go. Why won’t they just let me die at home.’

“She’s had a hard life. My dad passed away a while back. He was on life support. The family was asked for permission to stop the machines that were keeping him alive. I was talking to my mom, on my cell phone, when they pulled the plug. I heard laughing in the background. The family thought that after he was removed from life support that he would die immediately. He drifted off to sleep for about ten minutes, then he awoke. He said, ‘I must be in heaven, I see all the angels of my family around me.’ Everyone laughed. I think he was trying to hold on until I arrived, but he didn’t last long enough for me to see him alive. At least I got to talk to him, and tell him that I loved him.

I met Silver’s brothers and his nephew. I also met Spike. I introduced myself. I said, I think we’ve met before at ‘the benches’, or at the ‘heater’. “Maybe, he said, I go to those places.”

Shark said to Spike, “What do you think of this place?”

Spike said, “It’s handy to the Somerset Street Beer Store.”

It was time to go upstairs for the memorial service. I’m guessing there were about fifty to seventy-five people in attendance. The Minister, who hadn’t met silver, started the service with a reading from  the Book of John:

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 

Jesus the Way to the Father

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know [b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

The minister added a personal note. “I am getting on in years. I know that when my time comes that my Lord will have prepared a room for me, even though in my life I have made mistakes. I am human. We all make mistakes. The dead are not gone, they live on in our hearts and memories, and in the genes of Jesse and Abbie.

He then went over and blessed Silver’s cremation urn with holy water.

A family member read a poem she wrote for John.

Cathy talked about stories from their childhood, stories that they had recounted at Silver’s bedside:

In the winter, Silver loved ‘bumpering’. To go bumpering, you grab the bumper of a moving vehicle and allow it pull you as it careens along the icy roads. This is dangerous and not at all recommended.

Silver enjoyed board games such as Monopoly and Clue, and playing cards. He and his older brother, Don, played a game called Hi-Lo. The loser of each hand would have to do push ups. What Silver didn’t know was that Bob was stacking the deck against him. Don was ahead in the short run, but Silver developed massive shoulders, that gave him the advantage in wrestling.

Our father died when Silver was nine years old. The three oldest siblings had to take turns minding the two youngest. Silver wanted to go riding on his bike, but it was his turn to care for his younger brother. Silver found a way to do both things at the same time. He tied his brother to the front stair railing and hopped on his bike. He rode around and around the block, waving at his brother each time he passed.

Cathy read the following poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye,

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

The service ended, and as the congregation arose and left the chapel the following song was being played:

 

Spirit in the Sky

by Norman Greenbaum

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best

Prepare yourself you know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He’s gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
Gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
That’s where you’re gonna go when you die
When you die and they lay you to rest
You’re gonna go to the place that’s the best

Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He’s gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky
Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best
Go to the place that’s the best

At the door leaving the building I had a chance to speak with Stella, who has known Silver and the rest of his friends for the past sixteen years. I hope to collaborate with her and share information. She had the following to say about Silver:

I met Silver at the beginning thru Tom, who used to pan at the Metcalfe & Albert corner. They both decided they would hitch-hike up to Timmins for some reason, but only got to Carp and came back. Guess there weren’t many beer stores along the way. Very funny. Tim passed away a few years ago. 

This was a very emotional service. Over the past nine months silver had become one of my family — my street family. It filled a void in me where my own family once was. They have all passed away, or are living in different parts of the continent. I too am a father and a grandfather.

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salvationarmy

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3 October 2012

As I got off the bus this morning, I was approached by Metro. He had a grim look on his face. “Dennis, someone just told me that Joy is in hospital. I’d like to visit her, but I don’t know her last name.”

“It’s, Wolford,“ I said, “Joyce Wolford.”

“Thanks, Dennis, I’m not good at hospitals. There are too many sick people there, but I’ll try to get over to see Joy.”

“Thanks for telling me, Metro, I really appreciate it.”

“No problem.”

Nearly beside me, sitting at a patio table outside Tim Horton’s, drinking coffee from a paper cup, was Deaf Donald.

“Dennis, something really bad happened to me. I just got out of jail. The police, all they say is lies. My landlord phoned them last night. He said I was making too much noise. I wasn’t making a lot of noise. It’s just that my landlord doesn’t like me. The police say I assaulted them. I didn’t do that. They came to my door; when I opened it they grabbed me, put me in handcuffs and pushed me to the floor. I spent the night in jail. My mother posted bail for me. I have a ticket for disturbing the peace. It says I have to pay $350.00, within fifteen days, or I go to jail. On top of that, I’m not even allowed to go back to my apartment. My rent is paid until the end of the month, but my mother and some friends are going to have to move my things. I’m not allowed. That’s not right.

“I’ve stopped taking drugs. I can’t go to jail again. Do you know the name of a good lawyer?”

I wrote down, on a piece of paper, the name of a lawyer I’ve used in the past and handed it to him. I said, “Contact this person, if she can’t help you she’ll refer you to someone who can. She’s very pleasant. There’s no charge for the introductory visit. She’ll explain the charges to you, and what your rights are. Any information needed for your court appearance can be collected by her office. If you want, she’ll represent you. Don’t worry, you won’t go to jail.”

“Thanks, Dennis, I’ll walk there after I go for my methadone treatment.”

“Take care, Donald.  Everything will work out.”

At noon I was relieved to see Joy. I said to her, “I’m so glad to see you. Metro said that you were in the hospital. He said that someone gave him the message to pass on to me. Are you alright? Metro didn’t know your last name, but wanted to visit you in hospital.”

“I’m fine, thank him for me when you see him next.”

I shook hands with Chester, “How are you, Chester?”

“Not so good.” He then turned and walked away.

“We did get some bad news,” said Joy. “Silver died on Monday at the Mission Hospice. He and Chester were really close. Silver checked himself into the Mission, they moved him to the Salvation Army, then he was moved to the Hospice. There’s something not right there. He should have gone to the hospital, not the Mission. They have no trained medical staff there.”

Bert pulled out a photo of a very healthy looking  Silver, sitting by the canal. “I must have known him for ten, twelve years, maybe. It was strange. He had a swollen ankle, then his belly swelled up, his face became skinny. He died so soon. I think he must have had some sort of virus or an infection. I wonder if they’ll do an autopsy. I’d like to know what he died of.

“We were just talking about all the people we know who have died. Just in one year, Rip died…”

Shark said, “Rip’s still alive.”

“Oh, I meant Tim, he died at Easter, Digger died on Canada Day and Hobo died on Labor Day, all in the same year.”

I said, “I saw some of those people in a video.”

Shark said, “It was called ‘Under the Bridge’. Most of those people have left town or are dead.”

Jacques said, “I had an uncle. He retired and stayed home with his wife. He had nothing to do, nothing to keep him busy. He died within two weeks of retiring. Me, I don’t have to worry about that. I’ve never had a job, so I’ll never die from stopping work.”

I said, “That’s good preventative medicine, Jacques.”

Andre said, “I out drank Hippo; he’s gone. I out drank Shakes; see he’s going fast. He’s giving me the evil eye, pretending he’s not falling asleep; he’s gone.”

“Where is Hippo?” I asked.

“He’s at his apartment,” said Jacques. “Didn’t you know? I saw his place. It’s a one bedroom, the size of a bachelor. The bedroom is so small, there’s only room for a single bed. When they brought it to him he said, ‘Hey, I wanted a double bed.’ They said, ‘There’s no room.’ He’s over in Vanier. I was there but I don’t know what street he’s on. It goes in this way, out that way, before you know it, you’re lost.”

I said, “He told me he was moving to Lavergne Street.”

“Yes, Yes that’s the name, Lavergne Street.”

Joy said, “That’s the place I should have gotten. I know why I didn’t get it, my worker told me; they thought I was a hooker. If I was a hooker, I wouldn’t have been wearing that cheap, polyester dress.

“I told Chester I wouldn’t be coming home tonight. Last time, he waited up for me. I said to him, ‘Chester, I’m forty-six years old, nobody has to wait up for me. If something is going to happen, it’ll happen. If I’m not home by eight o’clock, figure that I’m going to be gone for the night.

“He’s invited Raven over, can you imagine? She’s worse than Loretta. At least I won’t have to deal with getting her out of the apartment.”

I asked, “Have you seen Loretta lately?”

“Not since I threw her out, Monday. I took her down in the elevator, bounced her around the walls a bit. Nothing was broken. She was able to walk away from the building.”

We saw a fire truck pull up. Jacques said, “We better leave, soon the police will be here.”

Firemen came over to Shakes and tried to wake him up. Shortly after, a Paramedic truck pulled up. It was time for me to be back at work. I expect that Shakes will be taken to Hope Recovery, at the Shepherds of Good Hope. He’ll be allowed to sleep the night and will be back in his usual place tomorrow.

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group3

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8 August 2012

Today at the park, the congregation included ten regulars, including Shawn ‘Sausage Fingers’, Buck and his dog Dillinger. The first person to approach me was Joy. I hardly recognized her. Gone was her do rag, her hair color had changed from black to blond and was professionally cut and styled. She was wearing a loose cotton, black on white print blouse with gray stretch pants.

“Joy,” I said, “you look beautiful!”

“Thanks, I thought I needed to pamper myself for a change. Were you on vacation?”

“Yes, I was at the lake for a week. It was great, except for Saturday. I was working on the roof of my cabin and got a case of heat stroke. I had to be wrapped in cold, wet towels. I’d been drinking lots of water.”

Outcast said, “It was brutal here, one hundred and four degrees Fahrenheit. The rain we had just increased the humidity, but didn’t lower the temperature. I used up one of my inhalers. I have to go to the pharmacy today to get a new one.”

Joy said, “I still don’t have my health card, so I borrowed Chester’s inhaler. That probably isn’t a good idea, but it’s all I could do. I was hardly here at all last week. It was just too hot.”

I said to Joy, “I was so sorry to hear that Magdalene’s baby died.”

“I didn’t know that. What happened?”

“I don’t know any details. I spoke to her yesterday morning. I asked, ‘How is your baby?’ She said, ‘He died two days ago.’ I asked how Alphonse was taking it. She said, ‘I don’t know.’ Perhaps they aren’t together any more.

“I mentioned it to Trudy. She had seen Alphonse earlier that day, but he wasn’t talking to anyone.”

Joy said, “Trudy was by earlier, but she didn’t stay. She was acting funny. She probably knows something that she doesn’t want to talk about.”

Outcast said, “It sounds like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. A baby can turn over in bed and suffocate. It happens a lot.”

I said, “If anyone hears about funeral arrangements, please let me know. I’d like to attend.

“I was talking to Shakes yesterday. He was at his daughter Bettie’s, for her birthday party on Sunday. She had been beaten by her boyfriend.”

Joy said, “That Kit, what a scumbag, beating a woman six months pregnant with his twins, their son looking on. Someone is going to take care of this. I see him every day crossing in front of our apartment.”

Shakes came over. I asked, “What kind of injuries does Bettie have?”

“Her face and ribs are badly bruised; beyond that, I don’t know.”

I asked, “Has her boyfriend been charged?”

Joy said, “We don’t do that. We wait until someone is nearly beaten to death, and left in a pool of blood to die, as I was; or like Fran, with her back permanently fucked. That’s the reason that Big Jake and Gene are in jail.”

Outcast waved at a woman passing by on the sidewalk. “Did you see that woman I waved to? She’s my boss. Two days a week I volunteer at the Salvation Army. She’s the Executive Director. She posted bail for me one time. I’ll always be thankful to her for the help she gave me. She’s not surprised to see me here. She knows that I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict… and always will be. I was sentenced to ten years, of course, I didn’t have to serve the full term.”

I sat down on the grass with Little Jake. “How have you been this past week?”

“I’m not allowed to pan, because I’m on probation. That sucks!”

“Have you had your court appearance yet?”

“That’s on August 30th. I’ll know what’s going to happen then. I fell off my bike a few days ago.”

“Where were you injured?”

“My knees and my elbows were scraped. I have bruises on my right leg. I was wasted. I don’t know what happened. They found my bike in the hedge. It was in pieces, so I threw it away.”

“You probably hit the curb. I’ve done that before and have the scars to prove it.”

“Yeah, that’s probably what happened.”

“Riding drunk probably seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Joy said, “Everything seems like a good idea at the time.”

Shawn said, “There is such a thing as common sense, and everybody has it to some degree. Even people with down syndrome, or any of the syndromes have it. I’ve had some experience with that, mind you, I have a mental disability and I’m getting a pension for it, but my mind has two settings; either I’m polite, or I’m all out crazy. There’s no in between.” He took off his shoe and said, “See how the middle three toes come up and down as one? I got three pins in them attached to another piece in my instep. That’s from jumping out of a three-story window. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I wish I had just put my hands up and gone with the cops.

“What happened was, me and another guy were in a hotel room making a drug deal. He left to get some more, and the cops followed him back. We were both standing there, at the table, the scales at one end, the drugs at the other, when the cops broke the door down. I backed towards the balcony, said, ‘I’m out of here!’ and over I went. I landed in the alley, which was concrete. It would have been nice if I had landed in soft earth or even some bushes. I was lucky to have gotten off so easy, but I still went to prison. I could have saved myself a lot of pain.

“Now when I go through a metal detector, at the airport, all the alarms go off. They ask me to take my shoes off. ‘No problem,’ I say. It happens all the time.”

I said, “I have the same problem with metal detectors. I have an artificial hip and a rod in my right femur from a motorcycle accident. Do you think it would help, for you and I, to bring an x-ray to the airport?”

“No, they want to see for themselves.

“On another occasion, I was at home listening to music. It was 10:30, I had the volume up. Then I heard this pounding and kicking at my door. When I heard that I figured somebody had come for a fight. I opened the door and this guy was screaming at me to turn the music down. I said, ‘No!’ I saw his fist coming up. I just reached over it and connected with his jaw. He took off, like a scared rabbit, down the street. I thought he lived next door. If he lived down the street why would he be complaining about the music? It wasn’t that loud. I yelled after him, ‘You can stop running now. I’m not going to hit you again.’ I did turn the music down. Some people — go figure!”

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blackie

 
24 May 2013
Hi Dennis; Sadly, Blackie passed away today. At a Veterinary check-up a large tumor was discovered in his abdomen. Probably Cancer and the Veterinarian did not think Blackie would survive surgery & Chemo. I was with Blackie as well as Bruce and the wonderful people from B.A.R.K. (The Bytown Association for Rescued Kanines) .He went peacefully as I was holding his paw. Will miss them both Blackie and Weasel).

Stella

 
 

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homeless family L

 

 July 10, 1965 – May 8, 2013. Outdoors-man, dog lover, storyteller, avid reader, sportsman, son, brother, stepson, brother-in-law, uncle, great-uncle, nephew, friend and faithful Boston Bruins fan. His was a sensitive and creative soul whose life did not follow a conventional path.

In his early years, David was an athlete who excelled at hockey and soccer. He also enjoyed a love of sailing.

He worked as a videographer, a tradesman and a nanny.

While David lived most of his life in Ottawa, he also lived in Vancouver and spent time in Ireland.

His last years were challenging and he spent much of his time on the streets of Toronto with his loyal companion, his dog Blackie. They were very grateful for the kindness of strangers.

David’s family and friends love him, miss him and wish him safe and happy travels.

A private celebration of David’s life has taken place. His ashes are now in Halifax and will be scattered on the Atlantic, as he wished.

 

 

18 May 2013

Wolf handed me Weasel’s obituary. He said, “I like the line, ‘His was a sensitive and creative soul.’ He was a good friend and I don’t want to get Little Jake upset, but just between me and you, it doesn’t say anything about how many times he punched Jake in the head when he was high on crack; or the time he kicked my door down, trashed my apartment and beat me. I know I shouldn’t speak bad of the dead, but I just had to say that. You understand?”

“I understand, Wolf.”

“Okay, enough said about that. I really enjoyed the book you gave me, the  one about the war;  not the one about the racehorse. Horse racing is for rich people. I didn’t think I’d understand the racing terms. I put it in my bookshelf and I’ll read it some day: but the other book, by Ken Follett, that was really great. It gave me something to read all weekend. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down. Did you like it?”

“I haven’t read it.”

“You haven’t? Do you want me to bring it back to you? Have you, at least, read the back of the book, so you know what it’s about?”

“Yes, I read the back, but no, Wolf, you hang on to it. I’ve got too many books on the go right now.”

“Okay, I understand, but just so you know, that’s the kind of book I can really get into. Did you know that it starts on the first day of the Second World War? They had some massive planes that could land on the sea, but then they built so many runways that these planes just weren’t practical. After all the whole idea was to use them for bombing and if they had to land near the shore that wasn’t so good.  Have you ever seen a big plane that could land on the ocean?”

“I’ve seen pictures of big sea planes.”

“At first, when I started reading, I thought the Germans were after a spy on the plane, but it turned out that they were really looking for a  scientist. If they caught him they’d put him in chains in some prison and would have interrogated him until they got all the information they needed to develop the atomic bomb. You know what would’ve  happened then.  We wouldn’t be here.”

I asked, “Has anyone seen or heard anything about Serge,  in the past six months?”

Little Frank said, “No, the last I heard, he was in hospital, on life support. He didn’t have any family, that anyone knew of. We didn’t even know his last name.  Another person we haven’t seen for a while is Blaine. I’m guessing that they’ve both passed on.

Mariah was sitting on the other side of me. I asked her, “How have you been feeling?”

“I’m okay today, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got a pain in my hip caused by two slipped disks in my spine. I have two others  that have been fused since I was nineteen. I was having treatment for about six months.  At first,  I could hardly move.  My back was hunched over and I couldn’t straighten up. They gave me anti inflammatory pills, and put those little electric pads on me; but that’s all they could do for the first couple of months. They couldn’t manipulate my back,  have me do exercises, or anything. Eventually, it eased up and they got the disks back in alignment. That was a year ago. Now, when I feel a pain coming on. I just rest at home for a few days. That seems to take care of it.”

 
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womanbox
14 May 2013

Joy was looking better this morning, at least she didn’t appear to be in pain.

“Hi Sweetie,” she said.

“How’s your day going?” I asked.

“Shitty, I haven’t even made enough for a bottle.”

“How was your weekend?”

“It was okay — quiet.  Sunday was the anniversary of my mom’s death. I picked some flowers and tossed them in the river. That’s what I do every year. My mother loved the water. When I was in Montreal I could feel her presence all around me.  It’s not so strong here.”

I said, ” She’s nearby, watching over you. I believe in spirits — I’ve seen them. I’m sure she’s proud of you.”

“I hope so.

“I saw Nicholas this morning. He came back from visiting his parents in Mani…it’s not Maniwaki…Mani…something or other. He brought me back some moose steaks. I love moose, even though it will give me the runs for three days, it’s so rich.”

I asked, “Is he still going out with Christine? I think I remember her. She’s pretty isn’t she?”

“Gorgeous, with that beautiful smile and her long black hair, but they all sleep around. When she’s been drinking sherry she really goes crazy. She’s taken a swing at me. I just grabbed her throat and pushed her to the ground. I said to her, ‘It’s okay, sweetie, it’s me…everything is okay.’ She was fine after that. She’s a scratcher and a biter. Nicholas was just trying to hold her away and she bit the palm of his hand; a really nasty bite. I said to him, ‘You should go to a doctor. A human bite is more dangerous than an animal bite.’ He didn’t go.

“Toothless wants to have a barbecue today. I feel bad, they’ll have booze and I’ll be walking in empty handed. Do you think you could buy me a bottle?”

I said, “We’ll see.”

“You know the kind I like, don’t you? Don’t buy me any of that Pale Dry shit. That’ll really make me sick.”

I asked, “Have you heard anything about André? Has anybody seen him?”

“Nobody’s seen him because he’s hiding out. He was by here this morning on his bicycle. He pulled up right in front of me.  I said, ‘If you’re going to stop, at least have the courtesy to get your bike out of the way. I’m trying to work here.’

I said to him, ‘What took you so long to come around. At least Jake had the decency to apologize the next day, when he beat me.’ Andre said, ‘Don’t put me in the same category as Jake.’ I said, You’re worse than Jake,  he came back to see if I was still alive.’ I could see tears welling up in his eyes. He said, that he’d be leaving town for about a month. Since he spent his rent check on booze, he’s probably just staying there until his last month is paid off. He’ll be kicked out after that and I can’t see his sister putting up with him. She’s got a beautiful apartment.

“Anyway, Chuck is on the look out for him now. He, and a lot of other people want to beat the shit out of him.”

We could both see Chester coming towards us. Joy said to me, “What does that old fart want?”

Chester said, “Hello Dennis, hello Joy.”

Joy asked, “Are you going to Weasel’s funeral?” Chester just shook his head (no). “Why not?  Is it for the same reason the rest of us aren’t going?” He shook his head (yes) and walked on.

I asked, “Where is the service going to be held?”

“It’s at Kelly’s. That’s where they put all of us. I guess it’s cheaper. Beechwood Cemetery has a special place for us, out of the way.  It used to be that they’d pile the bodies one on top of another. Now, I think, they bury them standing up. I don’t know why they don’t just burn them and sprinkle the ashes somewhere. That would make more sense.”

 

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womanbox
11 May 2013

Joy was looking more cheerful this morning. I asked, “How did you sleep last night?”

“Not bad, I smoked a joint, then passed out for four hours. When I awoke, my heating pad was bunched up. I rolled over, then I heard my rib pop. It’s been hurting ever since.”

“Have you heard any details about Darrell’s funeral?”

“I haven’t heard anything. I seriously doubt that anyone would be attending anyway. I’m not aware that he has any family. I don’t get Jake blubbering about Darrell being his best friend. Darrell was a piece of shit and used to beat him on a regular basis. I never liked the way that he treated Blacky.

“Darrell was so messed up on crack that I think he lost every friend he had. He kicked the door down at Wolf’s place and trashed his own apartment. He was always mooching off somebody. I say, good riddance.

“As far as Jake looking after Blacky. Jake needs looking after himself. That dog is vicious. The only humane thing is to have him put down.”

Toothless Chuck’s younger brother dropped by. “Hi sweetie,” said Joy. “It’s good to see you. What are you up to?”

“I’m taking the bus to Montreal to visit friends. I want to get to the station early to line up. I’m hoping to get the back seat so I can stretch out and get some sleep.”

“You better be first in line then. That’s the seat that everybody wants.

“I’ve had it with Montreal. When I was there last week the cops said I had two outstanding charges of assault and battery. I asked, ‘Isn’t there some statute of limitations? Those charges were laid twenty years ago, but if you think you can make them stick, put me in cuffs right now, otherwise I’m out of here.’

“I don’t even know anybody there. I’m not about to start all over in another city.”

 

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homeless family L

 

9 May 2013
 
Loretta was sitting on a low wall near the bus stop. “Hi, Dennis,” she called.

“Hi Loretta, I haven’t seen you for a long time.”

“It has been a long time. Did I tell you that I finished a four month program? I’ve been over four months sober now. At the program I told them I was only there because of my addiction to alcohol, I didn’t want to give up weed. I never want to stop smoking weed. I need something to help me relax. I did buy some patches though. I want to stop smoking cigarettes.”

“Congratulations, that’s an amazing achievement. I know that addictions are very difficult to control. I’m proud of you. Don’t try to take on too much at once. Take things one step at a time.

“Andre only lasted two months and look where he is now.”

“I know, that business with Joy. It’s such a shame. I like her, she’s been a friend for a long time. She didn’t deserve that. Nobody does.”

“My heart goes out to Joy and to Andre. They’ve both been my friends for years. Now, Andre has thrown away everything that he worked so hard for. He spent his rent money on booze, so he may get kicked out of his apartment. Everybody wants to punch him out. He probably won’t be able to stay in the city. It won’t be safe for him anywhere.

“Is there anybody at the park?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to go there because I know that people will be drinking. I really want a drink right now. I’m just waiting for a bus. I’m planning to go to school.”

“What will you be taking?”

“First I have to finish my Grade Twelve, then I want to go to Secretarial School.”

“That’s a good choice. Where I work they’re always looking for Secretaries.”

“I see my bus coming. It was good to see you, Dennis.”

“Bye, Loretta.”

I walked up the sidewalk to the park and sat beside Jacques. “How are you feeling, Jacques?”

“Oh me, I feel fine. My body is healthy. When people see me they think I’m big and strong, but it’s like a car. The body can be good, but the motor is shot. My heart is in bad shape. People don’t know I’m dying, but I am. I tell them, but they don’t believe it.

“I’ve been shitting water for the past three days. I don’t know what that’s about. Maybe I picked up some kind of bug. I don’t know”

Jake came wandering up the sidewalk. Debbie said, “Well, let’s not all look at him.”

Jacques said, “That’s what we do. Where are we supposed to look.”

“I guess you’re right, I shouldn’t be telling everybody else what to do or how to act. It’s just the way I am, you know that.

“Has anybody got a joint? How about rolling papers? I got pot if somebody’s got papers.”

“You can use my pipe,” said Jacques. “I’ll fill it fresh.”

As Jake approached Debbie he said, ” Come here, I need a hug.”

Debbie took him in her arms and he started crying.

 

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homeless family L

 
9 May 2013 
 

When I arrived at the park, Little Jake said to me, “Dennis, before you sit down, I need a Tim’s Card. I gotta get a coffee. I’ve got issues.”

“No problem, Jake.”

I sat beside joy on the lawn. I asked, “Are you okay sitting like this?”

She said, “I’m leaning against my pack sack. As long as I don’t shift to the left I’m okay. At night I have a pillow and a blanket rolled up behind me so I don’t lean on the fractured rib.

“Jake’s pretty upset, as you may have noticed. He went to visit Weasel this morning. There was a guy drinking beer on the porch. He said, ‘I think your friend is dead.’ Jake went around to the side window and looked in. There was Weasel, lying on his bed with his hands across his chest and his eyes wide open.

I guess it was the neighbor that phoned the police. They allowed Jake to go in and pick up a few things. That’s why he has Blacky. The cops said if he didn’t take him, he’d be put down. I don’t know what Jake’s going to do. He lives too far away to walk home. He can’t take the dog on the bus. I think he figures on sleeping outside with the dog. I can’t see that working out.”

Jake came over to speak with Joy, “I know you didn’t like Weasel, but the last thing we talked about was beating the shit out of Andre, for what he did to you.”

“Jake, wait a minute, sure Weasel and I didn’t agree on some things. I didn’t like that he was a shooter, but I had nothing against the guy. We’re family,  we’re all feeling bad.”

“I just don’t know why this is all falling on my shoulders.”

“Jake, go talk to the ladies, they’ll help you out, or if you’d rather, I’ll take the dog and have him put down.” To me she said, “I don’t know who these ladies are, some of his regulars I guess. They fuss over him, feed him. It’s good that he has someone to look out for him.”

Raven said, “Jake, I have a sleeping bag. It’s brand new, still in the bag. If you need it I can bring it down later.”

Jake took Blacky on his leash and started walking away, Debbie followed him. Joy asked, “Are you going with him?”

“As far as he’ll let me.” She returned within a few minutes and said, “I think he wants to be alone.”

 
 

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wheel

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Good morning, Chuck. “Goldie looks happy. You mentioned that you were taking her to the vet for an operation. How did that go?”

“It was pretty scary. The operation seemed to go okay. I brought her home. She wouldn’t eat, even her favorite foods. She slept a lot of the time. Yesterday morning she was lying in a puddle of blood. I took her back to the vet. What happened is she must have been rubbing her incision against the coffee table or something. The vet put on a larger dressing that wraps around her body. He also gave me a cone to put on her neck for when I have to leave her alone.”

I said, “I phoned Mariah. She mentioned that they didn’t have enough money to hold a funeral for Joy. Her body was cremated. Big Jake was given the responsibility of dispersing or disposing of her ashes — I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw them into the nearest dumpster. They had a small memorial ceremony at the bridge. A few friends were there, some said prayers, some brought flowers, all drank a few toasts to Joy. I think that’s the way she would have wanted it.”

“Do you know the results of the autopsy?”

“No,” I said. I forgot to ask.”

Chuck said, “Well if Jake was there, it means that he wasn’t charged with anything. She may have had cancer or something. She drank, she smoked, she didn’t visit the doctor. Her death was inevitable. I’m surprised that she lived this long. I remember when I first met her. My son was having a barbecue. Joy was there, drunk as a skunk. She told me her whole life story. It’s sad, she was loved, but she’ll be forgotten. It’ll be like she never existed.

“I remember one time we were having a coffee. She asked, ‘Do you remember that short, fat guy that we used to hang with?’  Her eyes filled with tears. I said to her, ‘You’re crying over some guy and you don’t even remember his name? What’s with that?’

“When I die, I don’t want any service. I don’t want anything written about me — no obituary. I’ll arrange for someone to take care of my ashes. That’ll be it. I’ll be gone and in a short time I’ll be forgotten.”

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