The restaurant where I work is located in a sort of sketchy part of town. Right next to a couple homeless shelters and a few bars.

Needless to say, it's not unusual for me to see a transient passed out on the sidewalk or a group of them outside the shelter smoking as I'm walking from my car.

Yesterday, I was thinking about fathers. And how it's very likely that many or most of these men are fathers, in some sense of the word. And even more, they have/had fathers.

Are their children somewhere, wondering where they are? Thinking about them, more than usual, on this day to honor fathers?

For some reason, it's hard for me to picture these men in any other role than the one they currently fill. I have to remind myself that once upon a time, they were babies. They were children. And teenagers. Some of them were probably devastatingly handsome or witty or talented, at one point in their lives.

But at some point, something went wrong. Whether by their own choices or by mental/physical/economic circumstances beyond their control. (I tend to be rather skeptical, and assume that poverty in this country is almost wholly the result of choices, not lack of opportunity. Although I believe that is true much of the time, I have to remind myself that it is not the only cause).

Few people expect their children to grow up and be homeless. It's just not how most people think.

But it happens.
It's hard to respect someone when you assume that their quality of life is due to drug addiction, or alcoholism.

Though we cannot help them out of the rut they may have gotten themselves into, and we should not condone such behavior, we can show compassion. Even if just in our minds. We can acknowledge them as human beings. And as citizens of this country, with the same rights we have.

I recently read the book, The Soloist, (I'm dying to see the movie). It's a true story. The story of a homeless man in Los Angeles, a former Juilliard string bassist, who struggles with schizophrenia. It's an incredible story. It doesn't have the typical Hollywood happy ending, but it is still a triumph. It's just, real.

It makes me wonder how many similar stories are waiting to be discovered, and recognized.

Anyway, this has grown into a pretty long jumble of thoughts, but really all I wanted to say was:

Happy Father's Day.

To my own dear old dad, and to all fathers. Wherever they are.

photo via deviantart


Matt said...

Yes. I'm now putting the soloist on my short list of books to read...also, a lot of the things you discussed here reminded me of The Glass House, a memoir I just finished that deals with growing up in poverty. Really really good, but also deals with some really really hard topics.

Bekah Parker said...

You know it isn't very often that I will read everyword of someone's post. Usually I just scroll, scroll, scroll and skim, skim, skim but I will have you know my dear...I ALWAYS read your posts. I think they are so well written and genuine and I love them as I do you:)

Jen said...

Great post :) And I can't wait to see the Soloist, too!