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Friends In Low Places

Setting the Scene

Two brothers, living in a garage. Not a refurbished garage apartment . . . a garage!

One, an alcoholic. The other, mentally-ill. Age of both, difficult to ascertain . . . say in the 35-50 range, hard life clouding the fine lines.

During the days, they roam our neighborhood, looking for I know not what. Most times they can be found in Mission Creek Nature Reserve, feeling safe among the towering firs and cedars. Approach them and they smile shyly, mumble have a nice day, return to their private, inner worlds, no danger to anyone, part of the local landscape. Nights will find them back in the garage, on Miller Street, a dusty couch their only furniture, cats stopping by for a stroke behind the ear as darkness falls.

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it make a sound?


The Other Morning

I thought of that this morning as my wife and I walked by that garage on Miller. We hadn’t seen the brothers around for weeks so, when the owner of the garage, a lovely 90-year old woman named Beatrice, stepped out of her house, we asked her about the brothers.

“Clarence died in his sleep, the alcohol finally claiming him,” she said. “Chris then had to go live with his sister, in Roy, where she could take care of him.”

And, with that, I felt sadness fall upon me.

The thing is, and this is not an exaggeration in any way, shape, or form, the same scenario plays out, in every city, across this nation, almost daily. The discarded of our fine nation, the unwashed, the unloved, the uncared for, the forgotten, the citizens in low places, die daily without anyone noticing that they have passed on and yes, I find that profoundly sad.

Trees falling in the forest, not making a sound.

It Is Incomprehensible to Me

I have no frame of reference and, I suspect, most of you reading this can say the same.

I have always been loved. Since that day at the foster home, me nine-months old, when my adopted parents took me home, I have been cared for. I was adopted into a middle-class white family. I attended private schools. I received an excellent education, learned how to function in society, was given advantages which would serve me well for decades. I had family, I had friends, I had a community, all of whom served as support, all of whom “noticed” me and gave me strength when needed.

There is virtually no chance, me now seventy-three, that I will die alone, uncared for, unwashed, unloved.

There but for the grace of God go I.

I am not a religious man, but that phrase has always stayed with me. If not for a strange series of events, my life would have been considerably different . . . drastically different! If not for loving parents who sacrificed greatly for me, my life would have gone in a completely different direction. If not for the advantages given to me, it is very easy to imagine me, in a dark garage, living out my last days with only a stray cat to care, and a bottle of Jim Beam to keep me company.


Just Something to Think About

I hope I never forget Clarence and Chris. I hope I always have friends in low places because, well, everyone should have someone, don’t you think?

Don’t you think that, the very least anyone should expect from this life, is that someone gives a damn?

Just something to think about!


“Meeting America one handshake at a time.”