Friday, October 2, 2009

Earl..No New News

I started to write about my paintings today, but this bubbled out, so I'm going with the flow.
First of all, there is no new information available on Earl. It's awkward. Even though there was a network of people caring for him, bringing him food and clothing, etc., we're not his family. As an indigent person, he has now become a ward of the state. I only hope he doesn't have to live in an institution for the remainder of his life; he has slept under the stars...well, the bridge...for 25 years, by choice. He's a fascinating person. A man of few words. The story the Morning Call did a year or two ago is about all I know about him, other than the fact that he remembers the people that help him. We had a system; I'd bring a thermos of hot, homemade soup once a week, and he'd eat it at his leisure. The next week, I'd bring another, and he'd give me the empty. I'm sure there were lots of exchanges like that.
I can't imagine that the system would allow him to return to his life, as it was. Though the volunteers fed him and got him help when he needed it, I suspect the state will want to intervene; and perhaps rightly so, as winter is approaching, and he's getting weaker in his old age. Earl was offered room and board so many times, but truly preferred his outdoor life. I wonder if he'll be able to adapt. I worry that he won't.
I discovered Earl because I live about a mile from his "place", and passed him often. I was moved to cook for The Caring Place about a year or so ago, and also was moved to help Earl. I've always been a boardinghouse cook; I must have had a huge family or a farm full of farmhands to cook for in another life. Before I found these outlets for my obsession, I wasted a LOT of food; now, I exercise my compulsion, and pass it on. Win/Win. There was also that time, when I first left home and was starving (living on brown rice and tea), and Alice Wolfgang brought me a bag of groceries unexpectedly. She paid it forward before there was a catchy phrase for that. This is my way of doing the same. Thank you, Alice! Wherever you are! I have never forgotten. You have helped a lot of people with your one kind act, back in 1976.
Once, last summer, I brought my grandsons along to feed Earl. I tried to explain him to them. I told them he lived under the bridge, and didn't say much. They asked why; I explained that he chose to live that way, and that he probably didn't have much to say. The little grandson said he thought Earl might be like the troll under the bridge, but I explained that he wasn't scary, just like an outdoors grandpa that didn't talk much. He was OK with that. And when we got there, Earl was gentle and polite with them, and his eyes grew brighter when he took his lunch from them. Mine are tearing up right now.
I'm not a traditionally religious person, though I am deeply spiritual; the only church I have ever felt at home in was the Unitarian Church, because of its cultural and spiritual diversity and acceptance and respect for all belief systems, and I don't even go there anymore because of the bickering. But whatever and however I personally translate this right now...a blog for another time and place...God help Earl right now. And be merciful.

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