So, today, I'm remembering Surel, a stunning and thoughtful artist. Her last years were poignant, she was suffering from both Multiple Schlerosis and Lupus, so when two convicted, murderous felons wound up living, pretty much, in her back yard, she greeted them both with coffee and breakfast bread. Both were men who'd been released from the Oregon correctional facility and had hightailed it over the border. They were as close to homeless as you can get, living out their days, sharing an old tin can on wheels, just across Surel's fence. They had jobs; but those jobs barely covered the rent. They had a vocation: renovating bicycles or pieces of bicyles. They explained the culture and socioeconomic issues surrounding bicycles for the very, very poor. If you have a bicycle, you have half a chance at getting to a job. If you have a bicycle, you can find a place with a phone. If you have a bicycle, you have access to things like a grocery store, a church, and organizations that can help you— the Salvation Army or the soup kitchens. It's the difference between a roof and no roof. So, their renovated bicycles went to the poorest of the poor. Surel with her kind heart and her big mind was perfectly safe with the felons who wanted to mow her lawn and fix her flat tires. She wasn't perfectly safe from cancer.
So the next person I want to write about is Tim, who was just got out of jail. Actually, he just retired from his first career, looking for another one. He might already have it in his sights. He has the same gift Surel has; the gift of helping people in big trouble. His retirement party was last weekend, and there were a hundred people there, some with some questions attached.
When wife's family showed up; they wanted to know who all these people were. "Oh, those are the homeless people," Tim explained. "And that guy, he's the church janitor." Tim pointed out our buddy Dale. "And those guys by the bar; those are the inmates."
Rick stuck a dollar in his card to Tim; a joke from the first of our days together. We were all out to breakfast with each other, and we laid our money on the table. Tim scooped up the money, saying, "I really need some change." And he put the tab on his credit card. Just then Julie, Tim's wife, came back to the table, and she said this, "Tim just put the bill on his credit card? And pocketed the money?" Then she turned to us and said, "Don't EVER give money to Tim. He'll just give it away to people who need it or buy breakfast for somebody unlikely. Tim can't have change."
It was a dang fine party, if I do say so myself. Beer and pizza. A Hundred Lively Folk. A Saturday Night on the town.
Tin's religious family were the churchy ones over by the windows, There were a few slicked up, souls there—Woody and Sharon who come that way. The churchy ones looked pretty usual.