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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Flowers For Claudette
or why is it so hard to be humane

Okay, so every city has a homeless population. It's a sad truth of the human condition. There are many heartbreaking reasons why someone ends up living on the streets... mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, unexpected financial misfortune.

There but for the Grace of God...

Anyway, sadly many times those of us who are lucky enough to be healthy and financially sound stop seeing those unfortunate few, desperately living minute to minute. It's so easy to ignore them. To turn away from the ugliness that makes us uncomfortable.

I was clearing out the veritable ton of photos on my phone, when I stumbled on this...

It's a memorial to one of our more colorful homeless people, Claudette. Claudette was a 6 foot 4 inch black man who chose to live his life as a woman. He was never mean, always respectful, pleasantly greeting passersby from his make shift cardboard apartment which he stocked with books, flowers and other niceties he could find cast off throughout the city. Summer or winter, Claudette would be where he always was...alongside the CVS, living his life the best he could. Gracefully.

I walked past Claudette several times a month. At times I'd make eye contact and smile at him, but like everyone else, most times I didn't even see him and his large frame in my haste to get on with my business at hand.

Claudette passed away last year. I don't remember if it was by a violent hand or natural causes. His part of the street alongside the CVS is empty now.

For someone who didn't see him most of the time, I find myself looking for him now...

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