I never even got his name. I saw him sitting on the side of the road in a wheelchair with a sign that read “No job.” I usually ignore those with signs and especially those who will come up and ask you for money (bad experiences), but today, I felt something telling me to make an exception this time. I bought him some Chinese food, listened to him talk for an hour or so, heard his stories. He showed me his gunshot wound he received for walking into the wrong alley back when he lived in L.A. He kept his head down, didn’t look me in the eye much.
He has no legs. While he lives in a retirement home now, he spent a few winters outside and lost them to frostbite, a year apart. Now he has throat cancer and was a week away from operating when I spoke to him. He told me they’ll have to remove part of his jaw. For the last week that he could, he was planning to smoke and drink as much as possible before he has to stop entirely. He thought maybe he had run over a witch and now she had cursed him. I tried to explain that even with only a week left, he could take control of his life at least a little bit by choosing himself when to give up booze and cigarettes, not waiting to let his health circumstances dictate it for him, but I did a bad job of it, don’t think I got my point across.
I took a few pictures of him on my camera, he took a few of me with his. Eventually he had to get going, so did I, before the snow caught us both. It’s Tuesday now, he’ll be up in Denver for his operation, he says he won’t be coming back down this way. He has a 75% chance to make it through, thinks they’re pretty good odds, and has a feeling he’ll live to be 94. Whoever this guy is, I’m thinking and praying for him. If he’s right, then he has a lot of life left to live, and I hope he is able to live it well.