This morning we took Kali bug to the splash park in downtown. After about an hour an older gentleman came into the water area, put a small bag next to me and just sat down on top of one of the waterholes. He still had a hospital id bracelet on his right wrist from Mission Hospital. I could see the shakes from Parkinson’s disease jolting him. The mental instability of psychosis holding on to his outer exterior.
Our little girl, being my friendly counterpart, was ready for curious conversation. She stood there watching him. I sat there admiring the determination. He was hot. Needed cooling down. Plop himself right there and then. Cause, why the hell not!
Eventually he got up and we started to share the exchange of words, thoughts and humility. Just like my little girl, I needed his story.
His name is Carl. He began the tale of staying in a cheap motel nearby and his van and all belongings were stolen. He went on about not ever being married or having children. To which I expressed it wasn’t a good idea to be in that park without kids. In my misunderstanding of what he was saying I shared this. He looked over and said, “I didn’t even think about that. I was just hot!” I sympathized with him.
He wanted nothing. He needed an ear to listen to his words and he needed acknowledgment. He continued his story. I said, “Carl, dude, what an opportunity to start fresh and new. Nothing holding you back!” He smiled and agreed, “I never thought of it that way. Yeah. I guess you are right! Nothing holding me back! It’s good to be positive, right?”
I listened to the saga. I heard and saw his shattered soul through silence: abuse, addiction, mental illness, and the depth of what isn’t available to be expressed.
My husband is used to these exchanges. He sat there looking at him, at our little girl and waved to him as he left.
Sometimes we just need reminders. From strangers. From anyone that we still walk among the living. We are still participating in some grand experiment called Life. These connections enter for reasons. I observed the exchanging of laughter and conversations there. Not one person glanced over at him. He was invisible. And he is used to that. He’s lived a life being invisible.
My heart skipped a beat…deep sigh…as he walked away. “Goodbye, Carl. Please take good care of yourself!”
Smiles. Gratitude. Heart pat for all that is and isn’t.