The Silents

Posted: November 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

It was only 23 degrees the day when the phone rang that October morning. A familiar name appeared on the screen of a work phone happily charging it’s battery after a long week of being a conduit between those living outside and those living inside. I answered knowing that this was a call from a man who was trying, for many years, to do the right thing. A Saturday morning phone call made me nervous because while he knew we would usually answer, he was respectful to try not to call unless really necessary. I personally had not spoken to him since I was pregnant with my last child. He remembered vividly how I would waddle down the hallway of the facility and call out his name like an old friend.  As often does, our patients transition out of one setting and into another, thus trading one Feldman the other. Resiliency is a word I use frequently (just ask my students) to describe my friends who are living outside. This man is no exception. We talked about the difficulty of sleeping outside with the cold weather creeping in like a prowling lion ready to pounce when you fall asleep. We talked about how his long nights are a mental battle between a will to survive and a will to succumb. Sometimes the best place to shelter in the rain, he tells me, was a porta-potty that was left behind after the summer had ended. While I hold my breath for the minute and thirty seconds it takes me to pee under pressure of the stifling smell of a porta-potty in June, I cannot imagine the June porta-potty in October being my bed for the night.

Then he told me about the Silents. Individuals who have helped him in the most simple and but impactful way. He went on to describe how every outlet in a nearby park is shut off in the winter, except one. A maintenance man who works for the parks knows he sleeps outside and at times, he brings a space heater under the pavilion and plugs it in to stay warm and dry. He believes that this member of the Silents leaves the outlet on for him knowing it keeps him alive. Another member of the Silents walks the food from the food bank out to his tent when the weather is bad, understanding that his health often times limits his ability to walk into town for supplies. He tells me that he recognizes these fellow citizens do these things for him in silence. A simple fellow man helping another fellow man in need. No recognition, no newspaper article, no pat on the back. Perhaps even incurring risk along the way, but doing the right thing all the same. It is a reminder that the smallest things can mean so much. A reminder that true generosity is doing a deed for someone you know can never repay you. A reminder that the human connection that keeps us all alive is the connection that can allow a broken man to dream again. Lost for so many years, he dreams now of working with a street team or the food bank as a peer support. He tells me, “I’m worth something, you know. I think I really am.”

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Comments
  1. John Culich says:

    hello. its Johnny from Kansas City. I was one of the consumer award winners this year and attended this years Symposium. I just wanted to say how beautifully written this was and how much it touched me. Thank you….on this week we are to reflect on what we are thankful for…Thank you for your Compassion…and Thank you for making a difference. And YES. WE ARE ALL WORTH SOMETHING!! GOD BLESS ALL OF U!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dawn Fabian says:

    They are all worth something and God bless you and the team for reminding them of such! Tonight I returned to Georgia after a long day’s travel from the Valley for my mom’s funeral on Monday. The ride down sucked, but my eyes were open. I am always looking for those in need. I had food for them in my car and was hoping for a simple run in and a hug.We, those of us who have shelter and food, should be forever inspired to SPEAK LIFE to those who are overcome with burdens. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate the Stree Medicine Team. Thank you for providing unconditional love, acceptance, and assistance. Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

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