She panhandles on my way to work and has for years. She’s not always there, leading me to believe that she’s not always homeless. Or, that she’s getting some kind of relief and doesn’t always need money.
She is an attractive woman. Her hair is usually neat and clean and tied in a kerchief and usually, her nails look nice. This says that she has a place to clean up and maybe someone looking after her part time.
But, she is so obviously in need of mental health assistance. And, like so many others in our country, for one reason or another, she’s not getting it.
At one time, she would have been rescued over and over in the optimistic hope that one day, with the right help and medication, she’d be able to take care of herself. But, under today’s mental healthcare budget, most of the mentally ill get one or maybe two chances and if they can’t find a way to be self sufficient within those opportunities, and if there’s nobody to advocate for them, they get left behind. And, so many of them end up on the streets.
Talking to themselves. And, I don’t mean “I need to remember to pick up milk on the way home” talking to themselves. More like debating; asking questions and answering them; discussing their important subjects. She’ll walk up to the car and take money, but I can tell she has a real hard time separating herself from what is happening in her mind enough to say Thanks. But, she always manages to get out a Thank you before the conversation with the unseen person begins again.
It tears at my heart. But, it has helped me to realize that there is only so much I can help as an individual. I can continue to hand help through the car window and I can vote for people that feel like I do when it comes to what we spend our tax dollars on. But, I can’t get her off the street. I can’t take her in and change her life.
And, I’m not sure I’m put here to actually change people’s lives anymore. Remember those big conversations in college where we were going to change the world with the power of our convictions? It didn’t work out that way for me. So, I’ve found my little ways to help and I practice them with a wild abandon.
(And, to the naysayers that complain that she buys cigarettes or booze, if I was in her place, I’d likely be smoking two at a time, alternating inhales with swigs of rotgut, just to ease the pain and get it over with quicker. And, it is not my place to judge how those I choose to help decide to be helped. It is only my place to help. In case they need food.)
Rob is home this morning, getting to observe our normal morning routine. He is taking the dog back to the vet. She’s gotten better, but not better enough and seems not to be getting better than that, so it’s time for our regular doctor to give it a chance.
Still no word on the job. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The thing I probably do worst is waiting.
Be well. Have a great Thursday. Lane