Friday, October 20, 2017

Sad, then happy, then sad, then happy

I really expected never to see Napoleon the Cat ever again. At least I hoped I wouldn't. It rained like mad last weekend, and I hated the thought of the kitten and his people in a flimsy tent by the river -- battling mud, rain and a shrinking riverbank. So I wanted to believe they were safe and dry on a bus to Cleveland.

That didn't stop me from looking for them on Monday. Their usual spots beside the street light were empty in the morning. Empty in the evening. Get over it, Gal. They're off to a better life. Just be happy for them.

Then on Tuesday, when I was en route to the bank, I saw Caleb and Napoleon, sitting in the sun, panhandling. Napoleon was alert and awake and tried to climb into my purse as Dad and I chatted. I was happy to see how snowy white his little paws were. Obviously the mud wasn't too bad over the weekend.

They just couldn't come up with the money needed for busfare for three to Cleveland, and Caleb didn't like the idea of leaving his wife and kitten alone here indefinitely. I hadn't thought of that, but I'm sure there is an element of danger involved in being a woman alone and homeless.

So while the little family is disappointed, it's just a temporary setback. The man for whom he'll be working faxed* a contract to Caleb that states how much he will make when he gets to Cleveland. Obviously he has to get there sooner rather than later -- November 1, actually -- but the commitment is there. Their hearts don't have to sink every night when they come up short for busfare. It's cool.

Then last evening I saw Napoleon again with his "mom." (I never can remember her name!) She was sad to report that while most of their belongings made it through the weekend storms OK, the Patty Hearst book was ruined. Oh well, it was a well-worn paperback, nearly 30 years old (!) that I picked up at a second-hand store. I was just glad it gave them some pleasure.

But they hadn't finished it yet! Napoleon's parents are only in their 20s and truly had never heard the Patty Hearst saga before. Mom wanted to know how it ended. She told me she just got to the trial, and that Patty had just been found guilty.

I was happy to tell her that the book ends with President Jimmy Carter pardoning Patty Hearst after she served a portion of her prison sentence, that Patty married a bodyguard and has lived a happy if unconventional life ever since.

"I'm reading it and I'm thinking to myself, 'did all this really happen?'"

I assured her it all did. I even told her about that long-ago Friday evening when I was babysitting and watched the SLA house fire on live TV. I said, "It was a bigger deal than Jodi Arias or Casey Anthony." I didn't invoke OJ because it occurs to me that she might be too young to be very familiar with the Simpson case.

I've learned a lot by befriending Napoleon and his parents. One is that they seem to appreciate being related to as people. They like talking about cats, and the Cubs, and Patty Hearst, not necessarily whether they have enough to eat, or are warm enough at night. Homeless people are just that: people. I must always keep this in mind.

*Where did he send the fax? The UPS Store? The public library? There are aspects to day-to-day life among the homeless that I'm so curious about, but I don't ask because I don't want them to feel like lab rats or a case study. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh--what a bummer but I'm glad they're taking it in stride and *will* get there!