This morning was dark and looked like storms were inevitable. Our dog, Charley, had assumed her usual storm watch station at the end of the hallway next to our bedroom door. Truman, our giant cat, was passed out on our bed, and as usual, did not seem to care whether it stormed or not. The usual shave and shower, then two cups of coffee, then I hit the street headed for the office in downtown Indianapolis.
On the way to my office, I picked up a biscuit at Hardee’s for breakfast while I listened to a CD. Traffic was rather light. I left home late with plans to work later than usual. All of the schools I passed were on summer break so vacationers may have lightened the traffic. It is also a Friday so I assumed many folks were off work.
I often have lunch on Friday with my older daughter, Emily. I work on the west side of the Indianapolis downtown mile square while she works near the east side of the square. I walk across the mile to meet her before we walk to either a restaurant or someplace to share a brown bag lunch.
Emily’s lunch time is at 1 pm. By the time we met today, the threatening skies had cleared and we had a beautiful spring afternoon to enjoy. Sunny blue skies, low humidity and a mild temperature would make it difficult to return to my desk.
Emily works in the City-County Building. I waited outside rather than entering the building and passing the security check. She appeared and after a brief discussion about our lunch destination, we headed west on Market Street to Dick’s Bodacious BBQ at the corner of Market Street and Pennsylvania Street.
I ordered the meatloaf special while Emily enjoyed a salad. We selected seats on barstools that were at the Pennsylvania Street windows near the corner. We discussed my visit to see her sister Brookley and her family in Kentucky over the weekend. Emily told me how her youngest child, Violette, was getting along in daycare, Her older daughter, Lily, is gaining greater interest in books and counting for pre-school, the younger son, Dominic, is missing going to school every day, while her older son, Tylor, is glad he is out of school.
I finished the meatloaf before Emily finished her salad. While we sat there eating and watching the people and cars pass us by, Emily noticed a small, elderly man in dirty and tattered clothes. She was concerned that he was going to step in front of one of the cars hurrying through the intersection because he had stepped off of the curb and was standing in the street. She said she thought he must be homeless.
The light changed so he could cross the street and he walked across the street with everyone else. When he arrived on our corner, he stopped at a trash can outside the windows where we sat. He inspected the contents a bit before selecting a styrofoam box to open. He must have liked what he saw since he closed the box and headed on west on Market Street toward the circle with it.
About two blocks north of that intersection is Wheeler Mission. It feeds and provides as much as it can for as many of the Indianapolis homeless as possible. But, it cannot take care of everybody and, for some of the people with mental problems, it has few resources to provide any help for them.
While I was still in high school at the end of the 1960s, many places in the United States, including Indiana, began dismantling the systems that had been built to take care of our people who are incapable of caring well for themselves. At the time, there was the promise that the system would be replaced with something better. That would cost money, though, and in Indiana and many other states, there was little will to provide funding for something new and “better”.
Today was my brother Victor’s birthday. He would have been 60 years old. Cancer took him at the age of 47. I was missing him and thinking about how he would be today. He frequently gave of himself to help others. I help, but do I do enough? I don’t mind my tax dollars helping those who are less fortunate than I am. Can we do better? There are those who say that charity should be left up to the churches and other private enterprises. How much are they doing today? Are there enough of those organizations to handle it? They could not handle it during or even before the Great Depression. How could they handle it now?
After lunch today, I continue to want to do more. June 10th will now mean more for me than just my brother’s birthday.