Room for One More

 

Downtown Hyannis is a mecca for the homeless.  There are bus services and social services, including the only overnight shelter for adults on Cape Cod, all within walking distance for most.  Social services also include transitional assistance, Social Security Administration, unemployment, disability services, legal aid, community action, soup kitchens, thrift shops, food pantries, Red Cross, Catholic Social Services, the Immigration Center, federal health clinics, clinics for treating addiction, etc.  There are a fair number of rooms for rent and lesser expensive hotel rooms off-season.  In the winter especially, one can easily spot those without permanent abodes.

When driving through routinely, one may even come across the same individuals over and over again.  One man carries a long-hike backpack.  I remember him because he looks Asian and that is fairly uncommon.  He wears a bulky green army jacket, construction boots and glasses.  He has a long Fu Manchu.  I have seen him walking Main Street on the many trips through on my way to the pool.

Recently, I saw him outside at the parking lot of my pool.  The next time I saw him inside, then exiting the building.  Today, I almost didn’t recognize him poolside.  It was the first time I saw him without the bulky winter coat.  He is razor-thin, I’d guess about 90 pounds.  He wore jeans, a long-sleeve shirt, bright yellow suspenders, and was barefoot.

He laid on the cabana lounge chair flat on his back and gazed up into the screen of a cell phone.  He unusually faced away from the pool.  Later, he pulled out a clipboard and pencil out of his bag.  “A writer” I thought.  He walked over to the lifeguard and showed him the clipboard and made a few gestures with his hands without uttering a sound.  He left and came back carrying a steaming to-go cup.  Morning java I assume, the way most people start their day.

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True Hero

lifesaverA mother and son entered the pool area. The young adult son seemed non-verbal and avoided eye contact. As I was just thinking – no rest for the weary – Mother went straight to a cabana lounge chair, stretched out flat, and immediately closed her eyes. The boy went straight to the water, carrying a bag. Soon, the boy had his collection in hand and a system. He spent a good deal of time carefully moving a small pile of prized possessions from one side of the pool to another. He walked while doing this and never submerged himself in the water. This occupied him for some time.  In one of his crossings, one item fell to the bottom of the pool. He was disturbed as evidenced by an increased frequency in soft moans, which became a cry for help. I looked over and Mother’s eyes remained closed. As I was wondering what to do, a girl was swimming by and noticed the dilemma. I guessed her to be about seven years old. Although she didn’t know this boy and he was different, she took quick personal action, donned her swimming goggles, and dove underwater to fetch the item in question. The boy was immediately calmed and she went about her business as though nothing happened. Another day saved.

Motherly Love

daughterThe pool was empty at 5:00 PM.  I quickly took my favorite lane. Mother and her 3 year old Daughter joined me in the pool. Mother had red hair pulled into an elastic, fair, freckled skin, and an overbite. Daughter was more blonde than red, and as cute as Shirley Temple. They were wearing similar color suites, navy and aqua. Mother’s mouth remained twisted into an easy smile.

I looked up and noticed them in the shallow end. The young child was submerged with her head dipped back so that, on tip toes, she could just manage to breath. It’s hard to describe, but it appeared that they were practicing rescue. Each turn, over and over, Mother would inch out a bit further, leaving Daughter to make her way to the pool’s edge. The child worked to stretch her arms and fingers, seeking out the security of the edge. Before long, the young child sputtered as though she inhaled water. Mother’s smile widened. She was pleased. Daughter did not look fearful, more like she accepted it and did not fuss. Daughter had no happy smiles, those belonged to Mother. It seems they are quite practiced at their game.

By now, there were other parents with children in the pool. No one seemed concerned or to notice. I considered going over to the lifeguard’s desk.

“That Mother is nearly drowning her Daughter,” I thought about saying.

But afterall, the lifeguard was within sight of this pair! Right then, I decided.
must be crazy.