Part of my work involves providing overnight security in various assisted living facilities. I have, in the past, lived in a few assisted living homes, such as Transition House, in Toronto.
While working I meet and get to know the residents. These are the marginalized suffering from medical and cognitive difficulty. If you saw them on the street you may believe that they were bums or derelict. Not all of you, but some would jump to this conclusion.
What I see is a reflection of the road I travelled. When I smell the odour of bodies in need of showers, stale cigarette smoke, dirty socks and all the other smells associated with communal living it brings me back to the many shelters I slept in. Most find it oppressive and that’s OK. For me its more of a common denominator that I have experienced and can relate to.
I often get to talk with and spend time with the residents. Not in the capacity of a social worker but simply as the friendly guard on midnights.
I’m thankful for my past as it has given me the empathy and knowledge to allow me to be genuine in my compassion for their well being.
Today I was informed of the passing of a sweet man who would come down from his room and talk with me. Society, at times fails to see the true value of its marginalized citizens. No one is inconsequential. This man had so little to offer except his smile and to offer a blessing.
He was not what society would label as one of the beautiful people. How wrong they are.
Rest in peace my friend. You gave more than you realized. You will be missed.