I think it was about the warmest day so far since last Fall! Jane Wingfield and I celebrated with a day in one of the downtown historic neighborhoods of Tacoma. Mount Ranier was visible in her snowy white robes, punctuating the southern portion of the Cascades. She looked almost close enough to be able to touch her 14,411 foot skirts! We visited the Tacoma Art Museum and then occupied sidewalk spots in the sun across from this lovely building.
While sketching on my stool I heard some mumbling behind me and noticed the lid of a trash bin was opened slightly from the other side. I saw no one but knew of course that one of the legions of homeless folks in the city was hunting for some lunch. An elderly lady named Maria parked in the handicapped spot next to me. After a while she came and politely asked permission to look at our sketches. Then she went over to the person at the bin behind me, still rummaging, and asked his name . . . William . . . and age . . . 35 . . . and struck up a friendly conversation with him. Not much later she returned to tell him how handsome he is and what a nice singing voice!
Finally she joined me to see my finished sketch and, with very little encouragement on my part, told me her own story of homelessness. Not so long ago she was living in Beverly Hills, but then her husband got sick and died. She was left alone, handicapped and not able to manage the remaining money and became homeless. Both of her children said they could not help her and, after staying with friends in temporary places for months, she was facing living in her car. Finally she was awarded the HUD apartment where she now lives.
Her story reminded me so much of the stories I heard when volunteering at The Living Room in Santa Rosa. So often it is the people who have themselves suffered homelessness who are the most compassionate and anxious to help those who still are. To see some of my watercolor portrait stories of my friends from The Living Room visit here.