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Jul 2, 2013

Early Monday morn, Jay, an out-reach worker for vets from IHS, came by the bus stop bench that James sleeps on.  His mission was to pick up James and take him to IHS and place him directly in contact with folks who are capable of finding solutions to problems faced by homeless vets.  The old geezer tagged along...

From the start, Jay tried to establish a rapore with James and that meant using a less formal form of address.

James got to meet several people who are in the business of trying to get vets off the street and into a more secure setting.  There was plenty of information giving out and there were options placed in front of James.

James listened to all and even gave out very personal insights as to why he might be in the situation he is in.

I listened very hard to what James had to say and came away from the trip to IHS with a better understanding of James and a better understanding of myself and my motives for wanting to better James' situation.  Truth be told, the whole experience made me face some basic truths about James and myself.

Like James, the old geezer carries 'baggage', some of which is very old and not likely to be thrown off.  The 'baggage' has to come define who I am.

James has a special relationship with another person, one that helps define him and gives him purpose to life.  Regardless of how strange the relationship might be, or how mean that relationship causes his life to be, that relationship is non-negotiable.  James is not prepared to break off ties.  The person is very important to James.

James' relationship with his friend made me think about the special relationship had with John so many years ago.  John, like James, was told over and over again that my being in the picture was not acceptable to his friends or family.  I was damaged goods.  My past was not one that suited a person like John.  John should cut me loose and be the better for it.  Like James, John felt that our relationship was non-negotiable.  I was a part of his life and that was just the way it was going to be.

There was nothing horrid about me, just the general 'unsuitability' of me.  I was not wealthy and was too loud in my purpose.  The causes promoted were not fashionable and truth is not always received well.

I had to confess to James that I was guilty of not listening to him in the past.  I refused to accept that James had the right to live his life in the manner he wanted and not as I viewed his living his life.  James is no fool, is well aware that his situation is mean and that it will remain so unless some things change.  James never asked me to push as hard as I did to get him off the street.  James never tried to work the system.

James knows himself rather well.  More to the point, James sees himself in the bright light of day and does not feel that he has to apologize for anything, least of of who he is.  James has taught me how to deal with life better.  Truth be told, every day James gives me the courage to face life fully and to not complain.

IHS and the folks who toil there are well meaning.  They have a plan, 'their plan', a plan that may not work for all but it is the only plan they have in play.  Jay and IHS have all of the answers for folks who fit the profile they are most 'au fait' with.  It works well, for some.  I understand well that James may well feel that what was offered, and there was much offered, is not 'right' for him.

Some years back, when this old geezer felt himself at the end of the road, totally without hope and little desire to carry on, he too made the trip to IHS and tried to get a helping hand through dark days.  It will remain forever remembered as one of the worst periods in life.  That the period only lasted for a few weeks, is due only to my coming to senses and realizing that it was 'I' who gave up on 'me', not the friends had.  Once the shame of being down and out was dealt with and talked openly about, there was a place for me to go to and my life would go on.  I thank God that IHS is not an option for me, nor would it ever be.

James is going through a hard patch due to health problems.  There is hope that his health will not get worse and that he will be able to do what he has always done, LIVE, on his terms and under his own steam.

Jay, the out-reach vet worker at IHS, kept reminding the old geezer that regardless of the rank reached or past brilliance of the life James had, he was no more special than any other vet that came in the door looking for help.  That may well be.

To me, James is bloody brilliant.  He punched his ticket in all the right spots during his journey through life.  I am in awe of all that he has given and achieved during his 40 odd years of service to America, be it in the military or as a park ranger.  James is very important.  I value my friendship with him and am in debt to him for helping me face life and the challenges faced with more courage than before.  James makes me a better person.

It is no chore to spend time with James.  I look forward to each morning.  I will still worry about his health.  I will still be bothered by his housing situation.

The answer to James and his situation was in front of my face all along.  I understand now that loving James as a friend has to come without judgement of his friend or the manner in which he lives his life.

I can do that...

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Posted: Tuesday July 2, 2013, 1:33 pm
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Rob Defrees
male, age 67, single
Hilo, HI, USA
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