Putting a Family Face on Homelessness

8637698By Salena Kitteringham, Edmonton Journal

At the end of June, my dad gave me the sad news that my uncle Roger was dead. He had died in 2010 in Thunder Bay, Ont., with no personal possessions, probably homeless as he had been living transient for about a decade.

As far as my father knew, no one from the funeral home had contacted anyone from the family. I don’t know if that is standard practice when a homeless person dies, but there was no phone call from the police as far as we know. Maybe my grandma had been contacted or maybe she didn’t know.

In either scenario, it doesn’t take a professional psychologist to see Roger’s homelessness as one of the factors weighing heavily on her heart when she took her own life in February 2011.

We only found out about Roger’s death because my uncle Dave had Googled Roger’s name, as he and I and many other family members had done so many times over the years. Only this particular time an obituary actually came up.

No doubt there were many volunteers over the years who served Roger Thanksgiving dinner and I do want to thank each and every one of them.

I would, however, want them to understand that his reason for being was not simply to make them feel fortunate and good about themselves, and that on the other 364 days of the year, when he was out of their minds, pretty much invisible to them, he remained on my mind.

Read the rest here. And be prepared to be deeply moved.

Of course, this relates to this story, and this previous post on this blog.

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Tim Chesterton

Family man; pastor of St. Margaret's Anglican Church on Ellerslie Road, Edmonton; storyteller; traditional folk musician and occasional songwriter. Email me at timchesterton at outlook dot com.

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