Divine Calm: Dear Anonymous,

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1.15.2006

Dear Anonymous,

My response to the following comment:

Anonymous said...
Hi there,I stumbled on your blog for the first time and I am a bit puzzled. Maybe I am missing a chunk of the story....but please tell me how come you are aware of your father being homeless and in need of health assistance and he is is not by your side? Why aren't you able to help?We have a homeless problem because families are too wrapped up in their own lives and are too inconvenieced to take care of their flesh and blood.I'll hold further comment until I learn more. This is one of the dearest causes to my heart. It is largely a fixable problem , especially for us in the most powerful prosporous nation on the face of earth, if only we'd take responsibilty at a personal level little by little.I recently opened a retail shop on a corner where a couple of homeless people 'live' hang around. One of them is a 70-80 year-old bearded old man. He tells me he was a handy man, fisherman, carpenter and roofer etc with about 8 children or more (don't remember) but most of them KNOW about his condition and whereabouts. Yet he is on the street. I just can't comprehend it. That's why I asked when I encoutered your 'plight.'One thing was mentioned here earlier that they refuse help and would rather have their independence and freedom. That is BS and a cop out. There is no such thing. They usually have a lot of pride and will always refuse help. It is only human nature. How we approach offering it is what makes a diff, ie discreet and affable hand out. There isn't a person on earth who would rather be out in the elements with bitter cold and rain and sleet instead of being in the warmth of family and room temperature with a meal and roof over a mattress.The guy I see near me refused initially to take money, saying he doesn't need any, he wouldn't open his hand out to take the money but I still got it to his hand and he took it while still finsishing the sentence: "I don't need ..blah blah!" He does it everytime and I still manage to give him a $10 or $20 bill for coffee and food. I made sure he is not a drunk and wouldn't waste it on booze. Never smelled any alcohol from him. I would love to be able to let him stay inside the store overnight but I haven't known him long enough and fear for my female employees. ( I never give to beggars: They're often cunning professional con-artists)I don't know his history and whether that explains why his family ignores him. I blame him for not raising them corretly and warmly enough. Maybe he abused them. Maybe he ignored them. Or even Heaven forbid , he may have molested someone then, probably among them. I don't know. But still, if he is out, not in jail, not in a shelter he fears for his safety in, I still think he needs a roof and minimal attention.We don't discard human beings. Especially if they are relatives. What is even more perplexing is the fact that one of his daughters was a bartender just a couple of blocks up and still shut him out of her mind. The way I was raised, you take care of your own. They brought you into this world, you owe them care and compassion and basic sustainance.We tend to not imagine if WE grow old and get rebuffed by our own children. Imagine YOU end up in your 60's and 70's in dire need on the street and your children want no part of you. How would YOU feel?401ks are far from a solution. They evaporated too quickly for too many people and too many don't even save enough.There are no easy answers and solutions. There are sad realties and limited ability to do much beyond our daily burdens. But you know what, welcome to our brute realites. Blood doesn't thin into water.Sincerely, N.

Dear N,

Thank you for visiting my website. You definitely have a good point about families taking care of the mentally ill. I can see how without any knowledge of my personal story you would have questions. My story with my father is very sad, but please do not believe that I don't consider taking care of family as my responsibility. My mother, who has sacrificed everything for her daughters, now has Parkinson's disease. I can assure you that I would NEVER abandon her and plan on taking care of her in the future when she is no longer able. Because of my lack of a relationship with my father, I know how important family is and how it should not be taken for granted.

Alas, my father emotionally abused my mother and was about to physically abuse her when she left him when I was ten. The last time I have spoken to him was when I was 13-years old, but my mother had nothing to do with this event. Basically, my father dropped out of my life on his own terms. He still has not contacted me.

In other words, my father abandoned his daughters. Four years ago, I found out that my father was homeless after some internet sleuthing and a phone call. The woman I spoke to knew who he was and told me that he is frequently kicked out of shelters because he disturbs others with the talk that he can raise the dead. However, the homeless community in which he lives is very small, and he receives a dinner everyday at the local Catholic church.

After several years to digest this information, I view my father's life as a tragedy. Ten to twenty years ago, knowledge was scarce regarding mental illness. I don't believe my father was properly diagnosed when he tried to receive treatment for his anxiety. Eventually, frustrated with his mental health care, he turned away from any help offered for him to get better. My father was a talented man, a Vietnam vet, and a pilot, but I could never describe him as a good dad. Now that I am better educated about mental illness, I view my father's difficulties in parenting stem from his mental illness.

So after giving more background about my father, I hope you can see that too much water has passed under the bridge. My father's defining achievement in making me who I am today is that he abandoned me. Although I love and worry about him, I don't feel responsible for him.

He is a lost soul, and this fact breaks my heart. However, if his homeless community cannot handle him other than give him food, how can I handle him? While you may not be able to respect my decision, I feel like I have drawn a line that enables my own well-being. I think by already forgiving my father for abandoning me is the best gift I can give to him and myself.

Truly yours,

Divine Calm

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