Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Homeless Angel—Part One

Recently I asked a new friend to guest post. I’m so pleased that today and Thursday, she will share two Thanksgiving stories from her own life. 
              In Elisa's own blog, which she calls “The Crazy Life of a Writing Mom,” she daily entertains and astounds me with stories about living with four creative, rambunctious, and delightful children: “the Scribe,” “Hippie,” “Zombie Elf,” and “Doctor Jones.” They range in age from one year to nine. Yet four is really five. For Elisa’s second child died when he was only a few months old.
            This coming Friday, November 18, Elisa’s book about Zeke will be published. In this wonderfully honest memoir, Elisa recounts Zeke’s story and her own. When I read The Golden Sky, it touched the span of sorrow, aftermath of loss, that I’ve encountered in my own life.
            These two postings relate stories from Elisa's life before Zeke entered it. I hope they evoke your own stories of gratitude and graciousness.  
            For more information about Elisa and her upcoming memoir, please visit ecwrites.com

A Homeless Angel 
Elisa Hirsch
It felt weird sitting at the Thanksgiving table with my family. I didn't eat much and I doubt anyone noticed because awkwardness pervaded the air, and made me inwardly happy to leave. I had Thanksgiving "dinner" at noon with my family before going to work at a diner.
            When it was time for me to leave, my sister nudged my mom and said something about me trying to get out of doing the dishes. She worried, wanting me to have a good work ethic. I chalked the concern up to her pregnancy; didn't she know I was on my way to work? I just walked past my mom who said something about me working too much—even on a holiday—and I left them with the dishes. It was terrible of me, but I battled depression while they worried about holidays, family time and dirty silverware.
            The diner didn't need me long because apparently all the scheduled waitresses wanted to work for amazing tips on Thanksgiving and I'd just volunteered for the shift. It was true though, the tips were unbeatable. But although money flowed like water from the fountain of youth, that's not what I remember the most. I remember an old man I waited on.
                He looked homeless, but happier than I felt. The man had nothing except a fading olive jacket, torn clothes, and shoes that practically talked as they flapped from their soles when he came into the diner.
                "You can go home now," my middle-aged boss said. Her cherry lipstick shone brightly against her pale skin and her blue eye shadow gleamed in the diner's flickering lights.
                "Okay," I nodded. "I just have one more order to bring out and I think I'd like to eat something myself." I placed my own order, walked over to the homeless guy, gave him some coffee, and brought him his "garbage hash"—the diner's specialty, a mixture of potatoes, scrambled eggs, sausage, peppers and ham.
                "Are you expecting anyone on this beautiful Thanksgiving?"
            I winked and he shook his head.
            "Well, neither am I and I just got off. Would you mind if I eat with you?"
            He beamed, showing some missing teeth. I hoped the tooth fairy gave him extra money for those 'cause one was a frontie. I grabbed my food (which already waited for me), untied my apron, took off my nametag, and sat down.
                "I'm Elisa," I said.    
                He smiled and dug into his food. "No you're not; you're an angel." He continued talking around a mouthful of potatoes. "I been savin' for this day. Always savin'. I hate spending Thanksgiving on the streets. Sure I could go to the shelter, but that'd damn near kill me. I want to be with civilized folk on a day like today."
            He put his hand to the side of his mouth and some egg clung to his beard. "Some of those homeless people are crazy! They get worse around the holidays." He peered at me, took his cloth napkin and stuffed it into his collar. "But look at me now. I'm sitting in a diner, with the prettiest waitress in the whole damn town."
                I stifled a laugh. Sometimes flattery can be a beautiful thing.
                The homeless guy tapped his fork on the table. "And you, why are you here, eating with a grumpy old coot?"
                "You don't seem very grumpy to me." A grin split my face.  "I just thought it might be fun. It's not everyday that I get to eat Thanksgiving dinner with a gentleman."
                We ate. We laughed and smiled. He told me about his life on the farm, about his parents who didn't have much. He told me about Vietnam and how things had gone wrong for him when his buddy died. Through it all, that old man showed me something. He showed me that life is what you make it.
                After we finished eating, I hugged him, this huge hug. I couldn't believe how skinny he was. His puffy coat made him look healthy. He was really like a squeaky toy that's huge until squeezed, before it slowly puffs back up again. A few tears went down my cheek.
            "Take care," I whispered because he was one of the realest people I've ever met. The people at church and school, even my family, most of them held nothing compared to that homeless old man.
               "You too." He grinned down and hobbled toward the bus stop in front of the diner. A couple waitresses watched from the window. They gabbed and pointed, probably thinking that guy was some relation of mine; they had no idea that I'd just dined with an angel.

Elisa’s website is http://ecwrites.blogspot.com


  1. Okay, now I'm crying. It is a beautiful story, and I now am compelled to go over and sign up on Elisa's site so I can enjoy more of these. Thank you, Dee.

  2. Life truly is what you make it, another wonderful story, really on a roll today.

  3. Thank you so much, Dee. You are sooo sweet to let me guest post. :)

  4. Good lord, you really ARE an angel!
    I'm blessed to know you!

  5. A MARVELOUS POST!! But how could it not be, with two such talented people as you & Elisa?!!

  6. Thanks for introducing us to Elisa, Dee. This was a touching story and I am going to go check out her website! :):)

  7. This was a story of Elisa's that I read a while back (when I first started reading her blog). It's one of my favorites...it shows just how kind she is.

  8. You are all soooo sweet. These comments have blessed my heart. Thank you.

  9. What a sweet and tender story and a nice way to step into Thanksgiving.

  10. Dear Dee,
    I usually answer someone's comment in my blog, but I notice that you answer on the other person's blog. That is very nice of you.

    I know that as I get older, things that used to be easy and not complicated, now stop me in my tracks. I am so much more timid in trying new things as I fear failure. However, the feeling that I get from my small successes is grand and I am invigorated by these accomplishments.

  11. Elisa's book is such a personal and timely telling of her love for Zeke, and for her family. I can't really put it into words, but everyone must go to her site on Nov. 18!

  12. What a lovely story. I am in awe that she chose to sit with this man and share such a lighthearted meal. What a gift for both of them and everyone with whom she shares the story.

  13. What a beautiful story, and certainly a precious prologue to next week's often over-the-top festivities. Her attentiveness to the gentleman on this occasion calls for personal Mindfulness and sensitivity to others. Elisa is a lovely writer and to be sure, lovely person. I will make a quick path to her personal site, and hope to get to know more of her special qualities. DebraDebra

  14. This was one of my favorite entries of hers. It truly shows her inner beauty.

  15. This is lovely, thank you for introducing me.