portrait story

Meet Tracy

I’ve been really missing going to The Living Room, hanging out in the groups and at lunch, getting to meet new women and visit with the ones who’d become friends. But since the doors to the day shelter were closed due to the pandemic guidelines in March, I’ve had a bit more chance to visit at the transitional houses run by The Living Room.

Tracy volunteered to let me do a portrait story of her. I first met her when she showed up at Bonnie’s apartment to take her to the doctor. You might remember what I wrote in my Meet Bonnie post:

This is what I love about many of my friends who have been homeless. It’s that spirit of making the best of what one has, and not letting set-backs get one down. As I was leaving, I ran into another participant at The Living Room [Tracy], who was having her own issues with pain from walking after surgery. She was there to provide the ride for Bonnie to a doctor’s appt. People who know what it’s like to need help are always the first to offer it.

I knew instantly I was going to enjoy talking to Tracy.

I got to meet with Tracy in the back yard of the house she shares with other women who have been homeless and are working on finding long term housing. She showed me the well-tended garden she had lovingly created in the back yard, with marigolds planted among the vegetables to attract beneficial insects that prey on garden pests, and an elegant structure for the climbing beans. I wondered how she managed it on a limited income and with her painful hip. 

Her final words in the story were the answer I got, “I am determined to make things work!”

I couldn’t help thinking about the various aches and pains I complain about at my age, and the way I use them as an excuse to think I can’t achieve certain things. Women like Tracy cause me to think again, and maybe get a bit busier!

Jodi

Sorrow poured on sorrow and anger overflowing it all. What dark and challenging times! So I want to share the recent death of a homeless friend of mine, striking the note of what value her life was to those of us who knew her.

Jodi was one of those people for whom the term “salt of the earth” seemed to apply. She smiled and laughed a lot and was always very animated. She would have made a fabulous campground host, which is what she and her husband had planned, until he died suddenly.

Jodi

For a while Jodi came to The Living Room almost every day to eat, sometimes to do laundry, shower, and rest her body after sleeping in her car. She was a loyal friend to many and one in particular, who was like a sister to her. And she had a connection with dogs, knew the homeless dog population well, and cared for them in every way she could.

Jodimemorial

Jodi was one of the women of whom I did a portrait story for a project I have been developing for The Living Room. I dropped off her framed portrait this morning to display with her memorial in the parking lot of TLR, where people in need come between 10am and 1pm each weekday to receive hot food and other necessities. Chairs are placed six feet apart in from of the memorial so that people may stop and take a minute to write in the book any memories they have of Jodi.

As I was leaving today two of her friends saw the memorial and were dismayed to hear she had passed. In that moment they had me and each other to share memories with. Hopefully many more will see and share their memories of her and feel uplifted by her example.