Monday, August 20, 2007


A few hours ago I watched as the coroner took away Donald's body from his sweet little shotgun. He died sometime yesterday, Sunday afternoon.

Out of the trio of double shotguns I live amongst - his had the nicest landscaping. It is always a pleasure to drive by and look at both his side of the double shotgun and his neighbor's Mary's.

Mary was a Godsend when it came to Donald.

The last months before he died alone in his house yesterday were all part of a continual blessing on his way back home.

Katy, whom I have written about in previous postings, who has helped me in my outreach work in the streets of the 9th Ward, was ironically his social worker. And Donald and I were neighbors. Katy, Ricky from hospice, and Mary were Donald's healthy "there for him" in his last months "family". It was Mary who put in the warning calls when she hadn't heard any noise from his side of the shotgun yesterday. Mary really cared about Donald. She says that her father and mother were both health care workers - caring for others is what she does. But Mary did this as a neighbor, out of a loving heart.

I couldn't be as present with Donald. When I got home at night I would be too exhausted to interact with Donald more than a hello and how are you doing, or other shorter conversations. But Mary, bless her sweet, caring heart - was "there" for him.

Katy told me at the impromptu wake we had for him after the coroner took his body away, that when he became her client he was living on a couch in the Iberville projects, coughing up blood. She tells me he begged her to help him get out of there. He ended up sleeping on the floor in a crack house next before she found him help. He had nowhere to go and he was very ill.

Katy was a first part of the blessings Donald received before passing yesterday. Through her kindness, real caring and empathy, she was able to find him help through Unity for the Homeless who is a part of Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities agreed to take care of his rent and all his bills until he died. In May of this year, Donald got to move into this sweet shotgun with the great landscaping - which matched his personality perfectly. Donald was sweet too - his personality was kind and helpful. My heart would feel sad for him when I heard him playing melancholy love songs from the 70's - I had no idea until today that he was dying. Donald never lived like a man who was dying from lung and brain cancer. That is what I find extraordinary about the people whom I live amongst and serve - I have never in my 20+ years of travelling and living throughout this country, met people of such bonhomie and fortitude.

Katy tells me Donald would tell her this little shotgun was the best place he had ever lived in, he was so happy here. I believe it. This is what blessings are like, the unimaginable happens when you least expect it.

Good bye Donald. May you now rest.


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