Homers BIG day/ CRASHED and burned…Edited

                                                                                 Missy”, Homer asked…”I turn 62 in a few weeks. Will you help me get my SSI started?” Homer as well as every single homeless man who has ever crossed our paths knows one thing that is certain and sure and that is Missy Hall will go the extra hundred miles to help anyone out with ID’s, birth certificates, bus passes as well as socks. If it has to do with turning on a new food stamp card… our girl Missy stops what she’s doing on the streets. Whips out her cell as if she was pulling a pistol on a mugger and starts to push buttons. Always fun to watch.

OK back to my story about Homer and his SSI and turning 62. A few months back I took my lap top under my arm and headed to our office at Burger King in downtown Columbus Ga. Our office is the back table in the room off the main dining area. A cup of coffee and nobody says a thing.

Homer met us that day and Missy filled out his application. Because of Homers alcoholism it is difficult for him to read and follow simple instructions therefore he becomes confused and nervous. That’s where we come in. Repeating simple questions over and over with total patience and laughter we finished a 45 min. questionnaire in about an hour and a half.

My motto has been and probably always will be…”do what you have to do but have some great fun while you’re doing it.” Believe you me it has worked time and time again especially when I have literally wanted to wring one of the guys necks. I’ll say something funny and they’ll crack up and we get the job done.

A few weeks after completing the on-line interview we received a letter stating Homer was approved and would get his first check September 22nd.

Oh how we have been very concerned. His monthly check is a very large amount and for sure we have watched men die having much less in their pockets by going on drinking binges.

Homer has counted the days off since he heard the news the check was as sure as here. I on the other hand started planting seeds. “Homer, you know you can get off the streets with that kind of money. Ahhh, We need to start looking around at what a place for you might cost.” Oh I talked about it often which in turn stirred a smile and a tiny glimmer of hope.

Last winter Homer almost died a few times. Once he ended up in the hospital. I have walked paths through woods and sat in the police station while an officer checked for any John Does, all the while… hunting for our Homer.

I told my buddy this week that I do not want to do that this year. My emotions can not go through digging in the back of buildings and smelling the air for any sign of a dead body. So Tuesday, he, Missy and I went apt. hunting.

We really got nowhere. The options we had just didn’t seem like Homer was comfortable with.

Many people do not understand how someone who has lived under a bridge in filth just wouldn’t jump at the chance to get in an apartment and be excited about it.

Change… Homeless people adapt! Plain and simple. Living out of a plastic bag becomes comfortable and even normal. Using simple things like deodorant, toothbrush, toilet paper, a chair become a blur of what reality is. To them it is forgotten and no longer exists.

After a very frustrating Tuesday we dropped Homer off and tried one last place which after talking to a few people seemed promising. This morning we caught back up with our man and told him about it.

He said he was on his way to see if his check came in and we would try to connect later this afternoon to maybe go look at this apartment. That was at 10:30.

At 1:30 this afternoon Missy and I pulled up to his bridge and sitting at the top of the hill that leads down to his camp was Homer sitting on the lid of a sewer cap that sits about a foot off the ground. He smiled and walked to the car.

His hands were trembling; because he hadn’t had a drink all day, when he held out his check and placed it in my hand. He wanted to get it cashed and to go look at those apartments. OH boy was I one happy person.

In less than an hour we cashed his check, went and looked at the apartment and Missy and I were driving to get him a money order for his first month rent while he filled out paperwork. He pays 450 a month for a very nice, small 1 bedroom furnished apartment with a kitchen and bathroom.

This includes water, electric, heat, air, plus cable TV. After he filled out the papers I suggested he go get a few beers and chill out while we went and bought simple toiletries that this man hadn’t used in years.

Tonight I went back to visit him to see how he was adjusting. I took towels and made his bed with the sheets Missy came back with. Homer cried when he saw his clean bed. I cried…

Today was a full day and actually very overwhelming for our dear sweet Homer.

Too much change, too quickly can often panic a homeless person. My husband always says that sometimes you have to move the piano an inch at a time to get it across the room. Today Homer moved about a foot so it’s time for him to adjust.

Tomorrow we’re going to take him shopping for some new clothes and shoes and he’ll still have money to buy some food.

Tonight he was telling Freddie something about going to the blood bank. Freddie stopped him and reminded him that he doesn’t have to go to the blood bank anymore. Homer stopped talking, looked at Freddie for a few seconds before he started to laugh and cry at the same time. His poor emotions are so raw… We’ll help him through.

Later this evening I drove past his apartment one last time before heading home and I glanced over at his door. There in a small group were a few people sitting in chairs and I looked closer and saw Homer sitting on the ground next to a chair.

I smiled and told Freddie, that it is just going to take some time for him to adjust…he doesn’t have to sit on the ground and he doesn’t even know it yet. Homelessness runs deep!

This morning I was up and early, eager to see how Homer fared through the night. I also had to find him a radio.

Pulling up in front of his apartment after finding the radio he wanted at Big Lots I could see through his shade that his kitchen light was on. I knocked on the door just as I heard the manager called to me from across the parking lot.

I waited while I heard my friend on the inside of the door fumble with the lock as the manager moved closer.

The door opened and I smiled real big as I told Homer I found a radio. He seemed excited but I quickly could tell he had not stopped drinking since I left him last night. His apartment air blew at me and I felt like I was standing under the Dillingham Street Bridge. He never changed his clothes.

I turned around and looked at the manager who now was behind me and he quietly spoke as he explained that he was having to make Homer move out. My emotions rushed from every single part of my being. I fought back tears as I stood there for 5 minutes hearing about last night. Homer was drunk and details don’t need to be explained…My buddy behaved like a homeless alcoholic and never knew he had his apartment to go into.

I thanked the man as I turned to see Homer still standing in the doorway with his TV playing in the background. He had on no shoes and he reminded me of a time when I received a call from my son’s school saying “You have to come pick up your son, he’s been expelled!” That sheepish look of one of my boys, knowing they were in trouble, but not really sure why.

I gently told him to get on his shoes. He only said…”I blew it didn’t I? I have to leave?” I told him yes, he had to leave. He took a small Wal Mart bag and began to put the few items he had into it as tears fell down his cheeks. He then looked at me and asked what he had done.

As I drove him back to his bridge he cried more as I tried to explain the details of his night before. He knew it was all true and only responded with… what is wrong with me, I had it so good.

That drive this morning only took about 5 minutes but seemed like an hour. I told him we did it backwards. First sober, then an apartment. I made sure he knew that I loved him and that I wasn’t done… we were still in his life and we were going to help him.

My husband found him later and they sat on a park bench trying to see where we all should go from here. He has money now for re-hab but as of today that doesn’t seem promising. He hasn’t stopped drinking all day.

We aren’t done with Homer, he is an alcoholic and he needs us in his life. We’re the only sanity he has. My heart breaks for him and my hope suddenly seems shattered, but God is still God.

Winter is coming and under a bridge it can get very very cold. I don’t want to see him on the streets, I don’t want to look for him behind buildings or lost off some trail in the woods. But it is my job isn’t it???


6 Responses to “Homers BIG day/ CRASHED and burned…Edited”

  1. What a great story to read before heading to my own soft bed. YOU and MISSY are truly saints, I am proud to say you are my sister… ❤

  2. Yesterday was an amazing day. I was so happy to see this happen for Homer….I don’t think people realize just how much this means to him…..or to us to see that teary smile come across his face as he stands in the middle of his new apartment. I thank God for allowing this to happen for Homer!!

  3. What a great story. I remember Homer well-and to think that he and I are just a few weeks apart in age. He’s off to a great start and I pray that things continue to go well. With you and Missy helping him, he can’t help but succeed. HUGS to you all!!

  4. I am so sorry to hear about this. No matter what, Jaye, you’ve given him some hope. He might not be ready to be on his own yet, but one day he will, and he’ll have you to thank for it. I’ll keep you all in my prayers.

  5. I love you and miss you Homer! Congratulations on your new apartment, and I’m praying for you! Bill is in Afghanistan but I’ll send your big news along to him!

    Love, Kelley

  6. Oh dear, I just read the follow-up… Homer, Sister Jaye, Freddie, Missy, we are praying for you all. We love you so much, Homer. You keep fighting, keep trying, and you keep talking things over with God/Jesus. Pour your heart out to Him and ask Him to help you, and keep reminding yourself who He is and what He is and that He loves you. Love, Kelley

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