Salomons: Gratitude

Salomons: Gratitude

At different times of the month I have come to expect different actions from the folks downtown, such as two or three days before the end of the month when people get paid, the numbers attending the kitchen drops. They now have some money and will ‘eat out,’ or rent a motel room for a night or two.

For instance one fellow, I’ll call George, throughout the month would borrow $20 whenever he would see me. It started out that he borrowed once and then promptly at the end of the month would pay it back. The amount grew until some times the total at the end of the month would be about $140 to $180. But come the end of the month, he would always pay it back.

When we first met George we were not able to communicate with him at all. His schizophrenia was so severe that he could not speak a normal sentence other than to argue with himself; sometimes loudly while he was sitting having a coffee. With his dirty appearance, torn clothing, and his matted long hair, plus arguing with himself as he walked along the street, he was one to be avoided and ignored.

If while at the kitchen we would approach him for any reason, he would let out a few expletives, abandon his food on the table, hastily get up and leave; he could not respond in a normal manner. As time went on, we realized that contact would be restricted to a simple greeting using his name, an offer of food or drink and then leave him be.

Over a period of several years he came to accept us at the kitchen as non-threatening and so our relationship began to flourish. Our conversations grew beyond a mere greeting and the attention we paid him relaxed the gulf between us; it grew narrower and narrower.

Then when he found that he could borrow a little bit of cash to tide him over, we essentially became his withdrawal source. He was cognizant enough that he always knew exactly how much he owed, which then at the end of the month he would pay back. Plus, he did little things like pick up other people’s dirty dishes and garbage them, and then when he was outside he would pick up discarded items and throw those in the garbage as well. A very different friendship grew between us which we cherished.

At the end of November we realized that we had not seen him for a while. His landlord decided to go up to his room and see if he could find him. When he returned, he explained how he had found him lying on his bed. He had been cocooned in his room for a couple of weeks or more. We knew he had been unwell for a while, but not to the degree that he would stay in bed for that amount of time, so we called an ambulance and he was taken to the hospital.

We know at this point how serious he is even though there is a bit of improvement, but cancer will take its course, plus we know for a fact he can no longer remain alone. This is a condition that is the hard for us to accept. It seemed that with his mental capacity he would have just laid on his bed until he died; he had no one to care for him.

Even though he has not passed on yet, can you image how lonely it would have been to die like that?

Chris Salomons is kitchen co-ordinator for Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whistle Stop Cafe east of Mirror is open for sit-down dining in defiance of health restrictions that owner Christopher Scott says are unfair to restaurants and other small businesses.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Whistle Stop Cafe owner’s legal battle continues

Government stopped closure order legal action but Public Health Act breach still a live issue

RCMP seized a substantial amount of stolen property last week. (Photo courtesy of Innisfail RCMP)
RCMP charge six suspects after ‘substantial’ amount of stolen property seized

Innisfail RCMP recovered a large amount of stolen property after arresting six… Continue reading

Pharmacist Aamir Hussain, owner of Shoppers Drug Mart in Clearview Market Square, said he expects vaccine to be available to eligible seniors next week at his store. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Red Deer pharmacies prepare to be part of COVID-19 immunization plan

Seniors have already been calling to book appointments

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS checking in with local businesses about COVID-19 plan

Alberta Health Services in the central zone is reaching out to local… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers' group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston
Dairy farmers lobby asks members to stop using palm oil in feed after ‘buttergate’

A dairy producers’ lobbying group is asking farmers to consider alternatives to… Continue reading

A new report says Canada’s small businesses now collectively owe more than $135 billion as they struggle to survive the pandemic, a staggering amount experts say could hurt the country’s economic recovery. (Photo by The Canadian Press)
Canadian small businesses rack up $135 billion in debt to survive pandemic: Report

TORONTO — Canada’s small businesses have collectively taken on $135 billion in… Continue reading

A Loblaws store is seen in Montreal on March 9, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Loblaw ready to call on pharmacists, supply chain to help COVID-19 vaccine rollout

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Loblaw Companies Ltd. says its ready to play a… Continue reading

Imperial Oil logo as seen at the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Friday, April 29, 2016.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Imperial Oil reports one-billion-barrel drop in bitumen reserves at end of 2020

CALGARY — Imperial Oil Ltd. is cutting one billion barrels from its… Continue reading

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during a news conference about training for judges Monday, Oct. 19, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Justice Minister David Lametti proposes permanent justice reforms in wake of pandemic

OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic appears set to force a modernization of… Continue reading

Justice Minister David Lametti during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday Nov. 26, 2020. Lametti says he will seek parliamentary approval to remove a Quebec judge from the bench after the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear the judge’s appeal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Justice minister to seek judge’s removal after Supreme Court declines to hear appeal

OTTAWA — Justice Minister David Lametti says he will seek parliamentary approval… Continue reading

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Military reeling as new defence chief steps aside amid allegations of misconduct

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces is reeling after news defence chief… Continue reading

William Sandeson arrives at provincial court in Halifax on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Canada’s top court has declined to hear a Crown appeal of an overturned murder conviction in the case of a former Nova Scotia medical student. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Supreme Court declines to hear Crown appeal of overturned N.S. murder conviction

Canada’s top court has declined to hear an appeal from the Crown… Continue reading

Most Read