Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Meeting John Doe

Today, an elderly homeless man came up to me and asked a question. I could not hear him and after about the fourth try I reached into my handbag and gave him a dollar. "Thanks," he said, "but I'm trying to find the bus to take me back to the hospital." Now, I hear him! "which hospital?" I asked. He didn't know. I noticed that he had three hospital bands on his wrists, so I reached down and took his hand to read them, to see if they identified the hospital. They did, but what struck me most was his name printed in bold letters on the bands: John Doe and Doe, John. I then gave him another dollar and escorted him to his bus stop and saw that he got on the bus. Maybe because today is an especially sad day for me, the second anniversary of my father's passing, that I felt so horrible after I met this man that I immediately decided to give charitable donations for my wedding favors instead of chocolates or mints or whatever, and maybe even register with changingthepresent.org (even though I'm at odds with them and their steady stream of emails), which then reminded me of a funny story. The week my father died, my sister's employer asked her for the name of his favorite charity, so they could make a donation in his name. "My father's favorite charity was my mother," she told them. They sent a wreath instead. It made me feel really good about our (my fiance and I) decision not to accept gifts from our wedding guests. I'm sure they have a favorite charity or a family member who may need some help. At the very least they can give it to John Doe.

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