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I never knew his name.

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.

Andy's  Bench. Photo c/- Marcelle Hoff

Andy’s Bench.
Photo c/- Marcelle Hoff

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