My Brother from Another Mother
I have been an advocate for the homeless for most of my adult life. Many of the people I have helped have made a significant contribution to my life - like Gene.
Gene is 60 years old and lived on the street until recently. The first time I met Gene he was standing on Church Street. He looked old and rough. When I spoke to him, he grumped. The next time I saw him, I noticed his hat had the initials "CK", so I told him I was going to call him CK. He grumped again. Finally, after a few more days and a few more grumps, he told me his name was Gene. I said, "CK Gene." He smiled.
One day he came to me at the Kitchen and pointed to his shoes. He said, "Thanks." I had bought the shoes for anyone who needed some shoes, and he did.
After several weeks of this kind of banter, Gene and I became friends. His life situation is typical of many my friends I keep company with on Church Street.
About a month or so ago, I missed seeing Gene in our usual hangouts. I asked another friend about Gene, and she told me that Gene had a stroke and was in a hospital in Chattanooga.
I went to the hospital to see him, and he was in bad shape. His right side was paralyzed, and he couldn't speak without a heavy slur which made him impossible to understand. I stood by his bed while the nurse was taking his vitals and such, and while Gene couldn't speak, he patted my hand and arm and smiled. By that, I knew he was glad to see me. We had a good visit.
As I left the unit, I left my name and phone number with the nurse. I didn't want anything tragic to happen to Gene without knowing about it.
This week I got a phone call from a nursing home. When I answered the phone, the social worker said I needed to give them permission for Gene to come there as a resident. I said, "Why me?" She said that Gene had listed me as next of kin, in fact, I was not only the next of kin, I was his only kin!
I was stunned. I had made a meteoric rise from grump to kin in a matter of a few weeks. But more than that, I was honored.
I am going to the nursing home tomorrow to look over the papers that Gene has "xed" so he will have confidence that he has signed papers that will be for his good.
Gene is 60. I am 57. I have a brother from another mother (and father), but this time I was chosen. Actually, we chose each other.