This is the hardest post I have ever had to write. When I say 'had' to write, it is almost just that. This is me bowing to the suffering, knowing that everything happens just the way it does, for a reason. With a toast and a tear, I bow to HANK.
HANK is the homeless man that represents all homeless people and families, those who live in poverty, who see no way out, who live in fear they may not eat today or find a safe place to sleep. The people on the streets and in the shelters. Also, the people who have a home, but the type of homes you and I would not wish to even enter. Those who live in poverty, in sickness, in helplessness. And those who live in harsh judgement of others, and those who have given up.
This is what and who HANK represents (H-homeless A-awareness N-needs K-knowledge)
Why HANK came to be.....
When you think of the homeless, you may see in your mind, a man, dirty, layered in tattered clothes, long hair and beard. The man in the garbage can, avoiding your stare. You may come to think from this, a trail of judgment. "How could you get that far?" "How could you get like that?" "Why doesn't he clean himself up?"
The man on the street with the cup and the sign. "I wouldn't give him money, he will just use it for alcohol"
The little girl sleeping behind her mother under the bridge to shelter herself from the cold wind.......wait a minute......
So here is the really hard part of this post I was talking about.
If you had ever seen my father, on some days you could have thought of him as that stereotypical homeless man. Long hair and beard, sometimes not so clean and smelled of alcohol.
Presenting HANK to the world came after this....
I could not believe that he lived in this. Not wanting to touch anything, the smell grabbed me in a choke hold. The peace I felt was out of place. You could not feel life or death; it was as if your senses went numb.
His children; myself, my sister and bother started to sort through his belongings, things to keep, things to give away and things to throw in the trash. Wanting it to go quickly but yet not wanting to leave. This is where he lived, a small room with a small bathroom, little fridge, table, chair and bed with dresser. Covered in things he had gathered, most of it just things you use daily, not much collected from the past, no photo frames or trinkets. The walls were dirty, well everything seemed dirty. This is where his life had ended.
Time had stopped for him, his grown children cleaning up the mess, sorting his stuff. Had not seen him in years, just knowing he was in the city trying to get by.
Three children, now with children of their own, taking care of their father’s life now that it was gone.
This is poverty, down and out, he had shelter, friends and a job, but no one should live like that.
Just before his sixty second birthday, frail and sick, he died alone in his small room in a hotel where he worked and lived. His liver had failed him, some might say, he failed his liver.
This small hotel was filled with 'those' people, you couldn't help but judge. Not that I understand but I get it...the 'how do you get here?' Surrounded with his friends, we were able to listen to their stories, they were a part of his family too.....in this place they called home.
So it came from this, my father had been on the streets, he had lived in worse than this, he ended up here.
Although HANK did not come entirely from a building full of drunks that had nothing <--to our standards--but the realization there is so much more to homelessness and poverty.