Every Wednesday night — rain or shine — a group of good-hearted souls go to Hartford’s beautiful, historic Bushnell Park to pass out food, give haircuts, and treat the people who are homeless in the park like humans.
The following comes from one of those good-hearted souls, a woman named Susan (not me):
I was late because of a traffic backup, and by the time I got there a large crowd had formed. As usual a couple of guys came over to help unload my car. As soon as I got everything set up my colleague George came over and told me that one of our customers/helpers, Terry, had died the day before. I turned to the crowd of guys next to me and they all started affirming that it was true.
I couldn’t believe it. Terry’s dad just died a couple of weeks ago. Terry had been helping to care for him. Terry was a big guy who couldn’t move very well, and had shared with me that he had diabetes. He usually asked me to give him a sandwich on wheat bread instead of white, if possible. When movement became more difficult, we asked him to help us serve, so that at least he would be able to lean on the table for support. He would always try to pass me a couple of cheese bagels when the bakery had lots of them for us, though I told him not to until everyone else had chosen what they wanted first. He was the person who, years ago when I would show up with cases of Hostess products, began singing out “Ring Ding Dong!” I know he often snagged extra chips and goodies from his perch behind the table, but he was sweet and we just looked the other way.
After everyone had gone through the line and received their sandwiches, chips and drinks, our resident sheriff Milton (a long time customer who is a part-time postal worker, part-time crossing guard and natural-born leader) spoke up and said he wanted to make an announcement. He quieted us all down, even telling Joe to turn off his clippers! Then he told everybody that Terry had died the day before, and that we were going to have a moment of silence. It got quiet. Then Milton told us that Terry was a good guy, and that people in our group cared about him, and that we need to care for each other, check in on each other, let somebody know if someone is missing, etc. It was a sweet moment.
I’ll miss Terry. He was a gentle giant, and a big presence behind our table.