Lacking friends is true poverty

Friends and family provide the ultimate measure of wealth. Those without suffer greatly. We have encountered a few poor souls over the years.

The Runaway obviously suffered from a serious mental illness. As we drove him to the nearest truck stop he mumbled, “going West to my brother. I need to get a ride West. I forgot my meds.” We invited him to join us for breakfast at the fast food joint. He accepted the bag of food but reached eagerly for the cup of coffee. Then he walked away to find a trucker going West. We left wondering if we should have tried to find the facility he had left that morning. We hoped he found his brother.

Plenty of loved ones with mental illness and/or drug issues have literally “worn out their welcome” with one family member after another. At that point, either the Loved One accepts state help or he/she becomes Homeless.

We met the Homeless One at the restaurant’s entrance begging for a couple dollars to get some food. We don’t give money. We buy meals or food. After the meal, the Homeless One asked, “can you help me get a bit of milk and cereal for breakfast?” Okay. We could manage that. The cart quickly contained much more than groceries.

Helping Homeless One get the paperwork necessary to renew government assistance was incredibly difficult. No address makes a tedious process even more difficult. So, we loaned our address. In time we learned that The Homeless One had siblings living nearby, but she could not stay with them permanently. After a couple irrational refusals to use available resources, we concluded that The Homeless One had worn out her welcome. Long after The Homeless One disappeared off our radar, we still received her official mail.  When we took it to the siblings, one had died and the other moved without a forwarding address. Someone else, somewhere else will again begin the process for getting official paperwork needed for subsidized housing, food stamps and a monthly check. Hopefully The Homeless One will not wear out her welcome with the new friends before that is all accomplished.

Then we met The Sick One, whose basics were met and income supplemented with a few handyman jobs. Occasionally in our conversations we heard of a brother living elsewhere in the state. They had not really spoken in years. So, when The Sick One needed a ride for outpatient surgery, my husband became the designated driver. He waited in the lobby for hours before he asked, “How much longer?”

“Oh, he could not have the surgery until they corrected some issues. He is in a room.” By the end of the day, The Sick One was sedated in ICU and on a vent for breathing. Complications piled up. We said, “well he has a brother, somewhere in the state. We don’t know the name.” Although only a casual acquaintance, as the ‘contact-take home person’ my husband became The Sick One’s decision maker. After a couple of days, friends began contacting us asking about The Sick One. Everytime he asked, “do you know the brother’s name or phone number?”

Five days later a friend tracked down the information needed. We called the brother and the Sick One’s wealth of concerned folks improved. Besides friends, he had a brother who could make decisions we could not.

Family and friends can be very difficult at times. They bring blessings and pain. But when the chips are down, those contacts make a world of difference. Cherish and nurture your family and friends. You never know when you will need them.