Monday, August 24, 2009
Seventeen Cents and a Bum
My brother, Dow, was the quintessential "bum". And PROUD of it. He accepted people for themselves, not their station in life.
I didn't want my 43rd birthday. It meant that I would be older than my brother ever was. Somehow I made it through.
This year, on August 11th, Dow would have been 50. He would be hanging out with his young grandchildren. And would probably still be haunting the streets, spreading kindness among his fellow "bums".
I don't usually buy coffee from a coffee shop. I make my own at home. But that day I needed one, so I splurged.
When I returned to my car, I noticed a shabbily dressed, stringy haired man standing nearby - his lifetime held in his dirty backpack. Horror of horrors - he was coming up to me!!!
I'll never forget what he said. In a beautiful, soft, well-mannered voice he said "Do you have seventeen cents? That's all I need for a cup of coffee." Remarkable words? No. What was remarkable was that my hand went into my pocket and pulled out what little change I had. "I'm sorry", I said, "this is all I have." We both looked down - at the seventeen cents I held in my palm.
Thank you Dow, for sending me the angel bum. You remind me, even now, of the value of kindness. Of the value of life, of love. I still miss you bro!