How a Homeless Man Made Memories for Millions.
As I have grown older, I have wondered about the impact people have on our lives and the measure of personal worth. What is the sum of someone’s life? Are they measured by accomplishments, credentials, accumulations or the value as determined by others?
It seems we all grapple in some way as we consider our legacy, and if, or how we leave a mark in this world. Here is a profile of someone who may not have considered these things, yet somehow he touched millions. He was not a wealthy man, he never won any awards, broke any records, nor did he do anything remarkable in the conventional sense. He never reached his 50th birthday; not a surprise, after years of drugs and alcohol usage, his tired body had little strength to fight back the advanced leukemia that plagued him in his final days. Not a lot of people know his name, and in the end, his passing was only noted by a handful. His death was of no great consequence, simply another (semi) homeless man who lived outside traditional paradigms and off the grid; he died quietly and seemingly did not matter much….yet he did.
Back in the day, he was just another guy from ‘the neighborhood’. I don’t quite remember how he became part of the group; one day, he was just there. Timeless nights, hanging out in the parking lot of a supermarket in Queens, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and trying to look cool. Neighborhood kids whiling away time, posturing and entertaining ourselves like a page out of an S.E. Hinton novel. He always had a crush on my friend, Julie. She had no time for him, he could be quite annoying, in a forlorn puppy dog way.
He wasn’t a bad looking kid, kind of generically tall, wavy brown hair cut in the style of the day. He never meant any harm, a bit of a nuisance at times; mushy and goofy when he got drunk….which could be said about any of us.
I remember when his mother died; we were still fairly young, maybe high school or shortly thereafter. Death was something we…