August 17, 2011

Robert's Story (Day 26, August 17, 2011)

Today was a topsy-turvy kind of day.  It started well  . . . I woke up early had a shower, put on clean clothes and went to a Rotary Club breakfast meeting to tell them about That Poverty Project.  However, somewhere between there and home, I had an anxiety attack . . . fears and doubts invading the corners of my mind ( . . . yes, I recognize I just alluded to having a square head).  The rest of the morning was spent toiling within trying to shine some light on the darkness, and gather myself for the trip into The Mustard Seed Street Ministry in Calgary.  Things then picked up in the afternoon as I met with Sarah and Deb, two of the incredible staff at The Mustard Seed.  I recorded a video interview with Deb that gave incredible depth of insight into being homeless, which I will share with you in parts over the next month.

After the interview was completed, Deb told me about a man named Robert.  Shortly before he passed away, at the ripe old age of 48, Robert remarked to Deb that when most people died they left a "ripple" . . . people to grieve, to remember the life that was lost . . . a mark.  However, he sadly noted that when a homeless person dies, there is not a ripple for them.  Robert wanted a ripple, and so he asked Deb to help people remember him.  So touched by what I heard, I had to share it . . . here is Robert's story:

The winter wind nips at his heels . . . wants to devour his soul.
But he relentlessly puts one foot after each, focusing on his goal.

The wrappers and papers bang at his legs, swirling snow clings to eyebrows and hair.
But he continues on, hunched to survive, knowing he is almost there.

Fingerless gloves, shoes without socks, coat lined with yesterday's news.
He smells like the garbage that lies at his feet; locked inside . . . a body abused.

And above, the ramparts rise holding up Centre Street Bridge.
And he sees the cardboard that he calls home, and begins to crawl up the steep ledge.

And from the depths of a coat (from a man who died by the river last year),
He pulls out a piece of a sandwich, gone stale, and a cookie; and swallows his fear.

And he closes his eyes, turns up his face, offers thanks to those unknowns above.
Eats his paupers meal, one bit at a time; licks crumbs from his fingerless gloves.

Then his eyes close, the painful time starts as oblivion takes over his mind.
And he journeys back to a brighter day, brighter life, brighter soul, brighter time.

His children run free, his eyes soak up the sight as they play on the grass in the yard.
And he sees his wife, the joy of his life, in the kitchen and the memories become hard.

For he loses it all in a blink of an eye when her car crashes and slides beyond life.
They hand him the limp, lifeless bodies to hold.  Bodies of daughter, of son, and of wife.

So he lays them away in their forever beds, and he walks from a life not there.
He wanders the streets of a city he knew, his pain and his soul all laid bare.

And as he walks, he talks to the souls that float around him, his family so dear.
But others who see him, hear him speak and they step away from this man in their fear.

And the city hates the way that he smells, and they hate that he chose to be
A thing they resent; he's crazy you know.  He's not like you and me.

But they don't know, that after the day, when darkness once more drives them home
That he lives atop the ramparts again, and he re-lives, his old life, alone.

by Deb Welliver (used with permission)

Deb asks all of us . . . "On behalf of the life now ended, I would ask that when we see those who have nothing and who have lost everything, we remember that they are a story.  They are mother, father, son, daughter, grandchild, hopes, dreams, life.  They are what we also could easily be.  They are the other side of each of us.  See yourself in their reflection, and walk gently in this world."

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to See WACHOOKANDU (newly revised)
Click Here to Learn More About The Mustard Seed


  1. Awesome. Thanks, Sean.

  2. oh, that was hard to read without tearing up, I will remember her quote. A

  3. incredible...and im glad you bothshared

  4. I cried when I read this. Sometimes I wonder if I'm making a difference when I knit/crochet toques, scarves, afghans for the homeless and poor. I wonder if I am wasting my time or is someone in need really going to wear this? I'll never meet these people I'm making these items for and after reading this, I will keep making them.

  5. Sean D. Krausert, EditorAugust 25, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Good for you, Sue. The world needs more people to help because it is the right thing to do . . . even if they can't see the results themselves. Thanks for what you do!