Homelessness…

The day after Gary Okeson’s memorial at the Granville Performing Arts Centre in Garland, Hubs and I flew to Petaluma in the Sonoma valley.

I was still reeling from the shock of a good friend and colleague dying alone in a homeless shelter in a city hundreds of miles from his home State.

While I walked or sat at a winery sipping wine, or in a dairy tasting cheeses, I couldn’t shake the heaviness in my heart.

About four days into our visit Hubs decided we needed to do laundry.  Apparently I’d taken enough to last me through the 8 days…he hadn’t.

“If you want to do laundry on holiday that’s fine,” I said.

Personally housework and chores do not come on vacation with me!

So that’s how we ended up in a laundromat in Healdsburg.

Laundry

doing laundry on holiday!

It was quiet, we were the only ones in there and we sat patiently staring into thin air having tried the internet to no avail.

As the wash cycle was drawing to a close a woman came in and shattered the silence!  She plonked her laundry baskets next to Hubs’ washer and fumbled around in her bag for dollar bills to use in the change machine.

Then she began talking loudly and I looked up from my thumb twiddling.  She was having it out with the change dispenser that was rejecting her bills over and over again.

I looked down again and mentally labelled her crazy.

Every time the machine spat back her $5 bill she became more and more voluable.

“Does anyone have any change?” she finally asked the almost empty laundromat.

I shook my head and the washer clicked off.  I began unloading and loading the dryer…on my own…I looked around for Hubs…this was his idea after all.

He was over with the loud woman feeding her bill into the changer and they were whispering,

“You’ve got it!

“No, here it comes again.

“I told you it’s not taking it.”

I could hear the whirr as the bill went in and out.

“I’ll straighten it again,

“I’ve done that, it’s still not taking it

“Let’s try this machine,

“I’ve tried it…

“Let’s go next door,

“No-one will give me change in there, I’ve asked.

“Let’s smooth it out one more time.”

I’d finished loading the dryer and had set it for 30 minutes so I went over and watched the two of them.

“I think we’ve got it!”

And their persistence paid off (literally) with an avalanche of quarters.

Mission accomplished Hubs and I took a stroll around the miserable little shopping centre where no-one would exchange an elderly lady’s dollars bills for quarters so she could do her laundry.

Half an hour later we were folding our clothes and she came up to us,

Laundry2

“Thank you both so much for helping me.”

“Our pleasure,” said Hubs.  I’d done nothing but think her loopy so I forced myself to look her in the eye and listen to what she was saying.

“People just look straight through me,” she continued, “you didn’t.  I was homeless for 11 years and it’s dangerous around here.  People treated me with no respect, I was robbed and raped, it just isn’t safe.”

“Are you in a house now?” I asked thinking of Gary.

“Yes, for three months.  I was on the list for Section 8 housing for 11 years.”

“Wow, that’s a long time,” I said.

“I’m 64 years old now and have been treated as if I wasn’t human.”

I could see Gary in her eyes and knew he had felt the same humiliation,

“No-one even talked to me,”

and loneliness.

“I just wanted to say thank you for helping me.”

God had used those few moments in a laundromat to teach me a lesson.

I had written the woman off as crazy as many had probably done to Gary, but Hubs had seen a person needing a little bit of kindness; Hubs is always kind to people whether they’re in need or not.

I was able to talk and listen attentively to this person who had been homeless, something I’d lamented not being able to do for Gary because I hadn’t known his situation.     

All I could think of were, Jesus’ words,

“When did we see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you something to drink?”… Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”                  (Matthew 25: 35-40)

God is always at work, especially in the ordinary moments of our lives, make sure you don’t miss Him.

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2 Comments

ElRay

2018-07-15 19:57:47 Reply

Very well said!

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