HOK: "Jack has been 'home' for a month now. I spent the afternoon with him yesterday. He talked to me for over an hour about what it meant to him coming inside after 18 years living outside."
He just kept saying, "Sleeping now without coons and cats and noise you just don't know how bad it was. When it rained last week all week, I was dry. When I wake up I can cook hot food. I can keep my food fresh in the refrigerator. When I'm so tired after feeding all the cats, I remember I can go home where it's dry and peaceful and quiet. And, I always tried to stay clean, now I take hot showers whenever I want, you just can't imagine. I don't have to throw away dirty clothes, I wash them and keep them and wear them again. I've pretty much learned how to work all the things in my home. I was pretty worried that I wouldn't be able to do all that. I was kind of afraid about riding my trike all the way to the shopping center. I was worried about living so close to other people here in the park, but, they are all so nice and quiet and peaceful. I love it here."
He told me about his wonderful childhood. His father owned a big electronics factory in Ohio. He told me his father was an electronic genius and they had beautiful homes and cars and all the rest. He said those were very good years.
Like most of us, there are holes in Jack's life. There are happy times he loves to talk about, there are black times he just won't re-visit. I can so relate to that.
He picked up again when they first moved to Florida and his Dad opened up a TV and Radio repair shop. He said they lived in a very nice Airstream trailer in the beginning. He smiled again as he told these stories. But, then the smiled faded and he grew quiet.
He joined the Marines and served 6 years during this time. He is proud of his service. He says those were good years.
Then he skipped to when his Dad opened an Antique and Junk shop. He said they really had beautiful things until the banks and 'big boys' got in the business and shoved the little man out.
He grew quiet and thoughtful again. He picked back up when his Dad got so ill and finally died. Then his mom died.
At this point in the conversation it grew tough for him. The years blurred. The memories blurred. And, then life brought Jack to us. We are all better for it. I know I am.
He wanted me to tell all of you this: "Tell everybody how much I appreciate all they have done. I just don't have words to tell you what it means to me. I can't even explain how I feel every time I get home and come inside. I still don't understand why all of you did this for me. People come up to me all the time up at the shopping center and they are so happy for me. I still don't know why. I just know this I will not have to die outside under that bridge now. I don't have to worry about the animals eating me before anyone knows I am gone. I just want you to do one thing for me. When, I die cremate me and sprinkle my ashes under that bridge. It was awful living under there, but, if I hadn't I wouldn't be here now. It was shelter. My cats loved me. As bad as it was, it was home. Thank you so much for giving me a better one. Thank you."
Fourth Story: First time he visited his new home. Not moved in yet.
Sixth story: Jack’s Tricycle: