Last night a man died. I’ve known him now for over five years. I never knew his name.
There are thousands of homeless people living rough in Sydney. This man was one of them.
He was a gentle giant who didn’t have much to say except a whispered hello or thank you.
My husband and I live in a very swanky apartment complex by the harbour. We first encountered our very own homeless person on the night we moved in. It was a balmy summer’s night and he was sound asleep on a bench by the water’s edge. His gentle snoring made us tip-toe past so we wouldn’t wake him.
In the five plus years since there hasn’t been a day when we haven’t seen him. He was adopted by both the residents and commercial operators in this complex. If it rained he took shelter under an awning near a fire escape. Umbrellas would magically appear. Residents fed him; clothes given to him. Security wouldn’t move him on instead only checked that he was ok and had everything he needed. A locker was provided for his few possessions. At night his gentle snores could be heard if you went outside to look at the stars reflections playing on the water. The seagulls congregating for their morning breakfast of breadcrumbs from his dinner the previous night, were a welcome wake-up call.
He didn’t want emergency housing. He liked Pyrmont, and so he stayed.
He became ill this week. Hot soup became a staple. A doctor was organised to come and pay him a house call. There was great concern for his health. He refused to go to hospital and died in the early hours of yesterday morning.
I don’t know if there is any family but he had become a part of our community for over a decade. He will be missed.
There are no gentle snores tonight.
Today I learnt his name. It was Andy.
Oh Joan, such a heartfelt piece of writing – you made me cry.
So sorry that you won’t get to tiptoe past Andy’s gentle snoring. You and your neighbours welcomed him into your community so warmly and personally. You showed how much you cared by helping him live where and how he preferred, on his own terms. I’m sure that meant a lot.
Sending you plenty of hugs.xox
Thank you Poesie. His Nibs was upset when I gave him the news first thing this morning. He’d been worried about Andy for some time.
Andy was a gentle soul who didn’t like fuss.
Hi we don’t know each other, but I saw Andy every weekend when I walked past his bench during my usual Saturday walk. My heart broke when I saw fresh flowers in his place today. I didn’t know Andy but seeing him every weekend made me feel like I did. Thanks for writing this and making me learn even more about him. RIP Andy.
We are arranging a memorial service for Andy. At this stage we are looking at Saturday 20th Sept @ 4pm adjacent to his bench. Will provide more information as it becomes available.
For years I have cycled past the homeless guy sitting on his bench by the water and have often wondered what his story is. Today when cycling past and seeing the flowers and messages in his place I felt really sad and shocked by his passing away, but felt the sweetness of Andy’s memory and how he was part of a community that looked out for him.
fabulous post Joan
Such a great piece on caring for someone. Thanks for sharing with us.