Larry W. Trent tells the story…
Last night I was walking in downtown Orange Ca. (probably the most charming district in Southern California). I walked through the little roundabout park for a moment to take a photo. There was one bench in the shade at the moment with a vacant seat. I asked the man, who was reading a paperback book, whether I might join him.
He said, of course.
I wasn’t really expecting conversation, but he immediately asked how my day had been. I replied that my day had been great and inquired about his. The response was something like ” all my days are the same.” It was at that moment I noticed an overstuffed backpack and a small duffle bag at his side.
I didn’t want to ask if he were homeless — seemed a bit tacky. So, I asked what he meant by “all my days are the same.”
It was interesting. That question got him started telling me his life story. Occasionally I chimed in, but mostly I just let him talk. I learned that he has been homeless for about a year. He quit his decent job four years ago to take care of his mother who ultimately died from Alzheimer’s about a year ago.
He said ” When I was caring for my Mom, it was the first time In my life I ever felt any sense of self worth. When my Mom died I thought I was worthless. My life sunk to the pits of hell and I lost my apartment.”
We chatted for almost an hour on that bench. Mostly about homelessness, in general. I shared with him my volunteer work here in LA with the homeless. I now know all of the places that homeless can eat and shower in Orange.
It was getting dark and he said he needed to get to his camping spot by the river before it got dark. I thanked him for sharing his story with me and sharing a park bench with me.
His response, “no, thank you for listening. Most folks just ignore us.”
Tent city along the Santa Ana River where Ed lives