Homelessness and hunger increases.

Sitting on a metal chair in a less than adequate apartment I had a disturbing exchange. She told me that her children, one step away from homelessness themselves were working downtown with the homeless at a shelter distributing food. She said the food given was meager, but even so they lined up for hours for it. Women and children first. Many were turned away, there just was not enough to feed them all. They waited outside, crying for food, banging on the door. Each one who was admitted into the church hall was given a small amount of hamburger meat, a single spoonful of corn, a slim portion of another vegetable and one bread roll. The rolls had been placed in a pan. There they swam in some kind of juice, perhaps from the corn. The recipients did not complain. They licked the bread roll dry before eating it. Each was given one cup of fluid to drink, no more, not even additional water would be given.

The narrator lived in an extended stay motel. Have you ever been in one? The carpet is old, filthy, the furniture is old and looks like it fell off of the back of a truck headed away from Goodwill for the dump. She lived there with her two grown daughters, no privacy, no place to be alone, all crammed into one room. They had lived there for many years and were grateful to have a roof.

The woman is ill. She has elephantiasis in both legs. They are huge and mis-shapen, she can hardly walk. Scaly, ugly to the point of being difficult to look at, painful beyond telling, non functioning legs hidden by a long cotton skirt. She spends her life helping others. At Thanksgiving she arranged for food plates to be made up for 800 families. She had asked others to cook the turkeys and return them Thanksgiving Day for carving and serving. Some who offered to cook the turkeys kept them, that meant her ministry ran short, and could only serve 750 families. The last 50 families were disappointed, expecting food that would not arrive. She tried not to be upset about that.

I was there with a group that feeds her and others from the complex one night a week. She was so blessed to be seated and waited on. She said she was grateful to have full plates of food, and always potato or pasta. Compared to the food at the shelter she felt she was dining high.

I do not know what happened to me, I felt ill. I quietly left. I feel ill with the retelling. Here I am with two good legs, my own home, I do not have to wait for others to bring me food, my furniture was bought new, my carpet is new and clean. And I am not half as grateful for who and what I have as she is. It makes me sick.


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