A couple weeks ago I was sitting in my office when a co-worker came in and shared with me that one of my residents, Mr. GG, passed away. This news came as a complete shock and although since beginning this job I have lost several residents and each has been very sad, this one, along with tears, has come with a great joy– a joy that I never anticipated 3 1/2 years ago when I walked onto these streets.
Before working on Skid Row I worked with a shelter in Pasadena, totaling my years working with the homeless community at 6. In those 6 years I can honestly say that I have never experienced a changed life like what I witnessed with Mr. GG. When Mr. GG first came into my office, a little over a year ago, the first thing I noticed was that he was missing an eye (from a previous altercation), he smelled like the streets and spoke some of the most obscene, yet rarely coherent things I have ever heard (I do not shock easily….he shocked me — holy cow). Through a lot of hard work and dedication from the team I work alongside of, we were eventually able to get Mr. GG on proper medication, which enabled him to live a life in which he learned to ride a bike, do yoga, win a game of corn-hole (with yours truly as his counterpart) and even began attending a senior day center that he loved (chair aerobics anyone??). He made some genuine friends that he was able to share the last year with
On Monday September 26, Mr. GG passed away in his sleep…in his bed. Although this came as an utter heartbreak, I couldn’t help but smile through the tears. Smile for the life that Mr. GG was able to live, smile for the joy he brought to this community I get to be a part of and smile for how perfectly fitting it was that this man, that slept on the streets of skid row for so many years passed away safely and soundly in his very own home.
Tomorrow I will get the opportunity to celebrate this special life alongside of the lives of many he has touched. A life that has reminded me over and over again why I do the work I do….and love it.
Mr. GG, you will be missed.