On Looking Homeless

My late boyfriend had brain surgery about 25 years ago. Because of this, a big section of the back of his skull was missing, and his face was lopsided. To mask these things a little bit, he grew his hair long and wore a beard. I thought he was absolutely gorgeous. Certainly the best looking man I’ve ever known. But I was biased.

People who didn’t know him often mistook him for a derelict. It didn’t help that as a roofing contractor he was often wearing grubby clothes by necessity. And because his speech was slurred, he was sometimes treated as if he were mentally retarded. That was ironic, because a more intelligent man you will never meet. One time he was rudely kicked out of a convenience store because the clerk thought he was a hobo. And sometimes people would avoid him on the street. He’d try to smile at them, but his face was no longer capable of that. He had the most smiling eyes I’ve ever seen in my life, though.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people were over the top nice to him. People would often offer him food. He’d smile with his eyes and thank them and explain that it wasn’t necessary.

He used to say that he spent a great deal of time convincing every new person he met that he was normal. Mostly he was amused by it, but sometimes it made him tired to be so misunderstood. There wasn’t much he could do about it, though. He just had to start from scratch with every single person every single day. Every. Single. Day.

Now that he’s gone, I often see people walking down the street that look quite a bit like him. Once upon a time I would have thought, “homeless” and discounted these people. Granted, some of them are, indeed, begging on street corners, and now, in my mourning, that makes me get more than a little emotional. I wish I could save every Chuck I see.

I often think how lucky I am that I didn’t discount Chuck when we first met, or I’d have missed out on some of the most amazing parts of my life. I’m not suggesting that you go out and embrace every scruffy stranger you see. But maybe pause a couple of extra seconds and give them a little bit more of a chance. Because you just never know.

Working hard

18 thoughts on “On Looking Homeless

    1. There’s a guy in Florida who does that, and drags this 10 foot high cross behind him, and he goes up and down the coast of Florida, barefoot, regardless of the weather. He’s been doing it since I was a kid. I have to admit I’ve never stopped to talk to him…

  1. Carole Lewis

    Thank You for this. So often our own insecurities keep us from what could be long and cherished friendships. We are getting better but still have a long way to go. The handicapped, the infirm, the mentally and emotionally challenged are no longer hidden from the public, but we must reach out even if just a smile or hello and never shy away because of what our eyes see. “There but for the grace of GOD go I”.

  2. the people in chucks life here in maryland an at our yearly reunion (croom stock ) have know and loved chuck his whole life an a better, kinder, careing ,giving, loveing person u will not fine in this or in his cosmic world that he lives now. at his prayer service after his transfer to his new an better cosmic life it was amazing the people and the stories that we shared about OUR chuck. at this years croom stock ,that was in chucks honor, everyone had a story of kindness and of a helping hand to share. all were unique to that person but the same in love an kindness. he made eveyrone feel loved an wanted an will b missed but never lost to any one he touched in his life here on this short stay in this dimension .for many more pictures an comment please go to croom stock fdhs on facebook an open a new book on this fun an crazy guy .an yes he was crazy but we would not have him any other way. dennis

    1. Paul Duvall

      Chuck was a very special person indeed. He seemed to come into our lives when we really needed someone to put things into perspective for us. He really cared and was so full of charm, wisdom, wit and intelligence- always encouraging and positive toward others. I really feel blessed to have been able to experience and to have known Chuck. I know there was a profound reason why Chuck came into our lives the last few years of his life, whether it be spiritual or for shining his light to making our days a little better. Miss you brother Chuck. I am thankful for you. God Bless You..until we meet again.

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