Saturday, December 01, 2018

This was a surprise

A happy and sad surprise. I slipped out at lunchtime on Friday, eating a little Chinese and heading for the bank. As I waited at the light on Michigan and Randolph, I saw a familiar face. Caleb! Napoleon's "dad." In almost exactly the same spot where I met him 18 months ago. Only today he was rolling toward me in a wheelchair, being pushed by a friend of his.

Last month I learned that Napoleon and his family were no longer on the street, and I was sure I'd never see them again. And here Caleb was ... in a wheelchair!

He is still driving a forklift, but he was promoted to days instead of the night shift. He and his wife and, of course, Napoleon, live and sleep indoors every night. His boss at the grocery warehouse has "rented" them the attic space above his garage. They're staying there for free now, in exchange for the work Caleb is doing to make it livable.

So Randi, a cancer patient, is warm and dry every night. That's good news! And Friday was her birthday, so Caleb and his friend had gone out to buy her a card.

But what about the wheelchair? He had a fall at work and tore a ligament. It was beginning to heal when he slipped on the ice and set back his recovery. So the doctor recommended a wheelchair when he's outside. Caleb hopes to be back at work "soon."

I told him I was sorry I hadn't gotten to say "goodbye" and his response surprised me. "Oh, you'll see us again." When the weather gets better, he fully expects to augment their income by panhandling, as time allows. His attitude is borne of having lived on the streets for years. Many of their friends are still homeless. He seems to see no stigma. I gave him $6 (for Randi's birthday).

And then we talked about the essentials. The two passions we share:

1) Napoleon is "a monster." He now weighs in at 14 lbs.! (The average house cat is 8 lbs.)
2) I'm reading Y Is for Yesterday. Caleb asked if it's "sad," since Grafton died before she could write "Z." I love that he knew that.


  1. Thanks for the update! I'm so happy to hear they are inside and warm and have money coming in. I know that makes you feel better, too.

  2. Oh my gosh--an update! What a relief that they are in a safer environment (no more creepy/sleazy landlord).


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