I really do try to spend as little time as possible online (no, really–I do), and for that reason it’s rare that I read others’ blogs. No doubt I’m missing a lot of good stuff, but I do like to try to get outside and do other things from time to time.
However, a few weeks ago I got a “Like” on this blog, and, although I usually don’t take the time to do so, something told me to take a look at the blog that belongs to the person who did the “Liking.” (I still find this business of “liking,” “friending,” etc., a little ridiculous, but that’s beside the point.)
What I found was one of the most worthwhile uses of blog-space that I’ve ever seen. The blog, which is called, “Gotta Find a Home” (http://gottafindahome.wordpress.com/), is written by a man named Dennis Cardiff, who has befriended (and by that I mean that he has become a true friend to them–it’s clear that he loves and respects them as they deserve to be loved and respected) a group of homeless people where he lives. His posts are simply records of the daily conversations he has with them when he visits with them. Through him, we see their struggles, their sense of humor, their failings (failings no worse than those of anyone else), their hopes. Mr. Cardiff neither condescends to nor attempts to make heroes of his friends. He simply sees them, loves them, and–most importantly–lets them know that he really cares about them as they are. He doesn’t try to “save” anyone (although I’m certain that if one of them asked for his help with something he would easily give it), and he doesn’t try to convert anyone.
Here’s a quote from his introduction to “Gotta Find a Home”:
I can’t do much for these people except to show them love, compassion, an ear to listen, perhaps a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would like to do more. To know them is to love them. What has been seen cannot be unseen.
When I lived in New Jersey, I became good friends with a number of the homeless people in Hoboken. When I had some money, I would give them some of it, or buy them something to eat (I am not congratulating myself for this; for whatever reason, it always makes me really happy to do so, and I always say a little prayer of thanks for being given the opportunity). But very often we would just talk for a while. I would ask about how they were doing; they would tell me stories from their lives before they became homeless, or ask about how my son was. Sometimes we just made jokes and talked about whatever insanity was going on in the world at the time. On many occasions one or several of them would cheer me up when I was having a bad time, and offer advice. I moved away over three years ago, and I still miss all of them–really miss them.
Of course, my relationship with David (the man I loved and lost to AIDS in 1990–the man about whom I wrote Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days) probably has something to do with my feelings about people who are homeless. He had been homeless for a short time before I met him. I suppose I always see him in the other people I’ve met who are on the street, and it’s easy to apply the love I had for him to them. And when I hear about a person like Dennis Cardiff, who would have been a real friend to David too, it makes me happy–really happy.
I hope you’ll visit Dennis’ blog. As far as role-models go (at least as far as I can tell from reading his blog), you can’t do much better.