Yesterday when I was driving down the street to pick Charlie up from acupuncture I passed by an elderly woman rolling a suitcase behind her.

At first I figured she was just another homeless woman.

But something about her caught my eye. Something was different.

She looked better dressed than a homeless person typically looks and better cared for.

But at that hour of the morning, why else would a woman be rolling a suitcase down a sidewalk that didn’t lead to much of anywhere?

Then it hit me. She probably hadn’t been out there on the streets long.

And I realized what it was that caught my eye and wouldn’t let the image of her go.

If she had been on her way somewhere with her suitcase, she would have been walking at a different pace. Instead she was walking pretty slow, as if she had no definitive destination. And that’s why the whole scenario didn’t make sense.

She had not yet reached the point where she looked resigned to her fate. She had probably recently had a shower and her clothes were not yet frayed or worn.

So I guess this is what the new homeless look like. The ones that have recently lost it all or just couldn’t put the money together to pay another month’s rent or electricity. Maybe she had lost her car as well, or she’d be living in it.

We will be seeing a lot of the “woman with the suitcase” type of homeless people due to the affects of the coronavirus.

She had probably been okay until our world had been picked up by some malevolent giant and shaken like a snow globe.

She had probably hung on as long as she possibly could until she was forced to leave what was no longer her home and took to the streets with her belongings stuffed into one suitcase.

She wasn’t in a hurry because she probably had no place to go.

I wondered if she had family, people who cared about her. But I suppose if she did, she wouldn’t be wheeling her still clean suitcase down the sidewalk on an early weekday morning. Or maybe she was too proud to tell them.

She was still clear eyed and looked well.

Soon she would get that glazed look in her eye. The look they get when they’ve adjusted to their new and inglorious fate and have long ago grown accustomed to the pity in our eyes.

She would just be another homeless person roaming the streets during the day and finding a dark corner safe enough to sleep in at night.

Maybe her fate would turn and she could go back to a semi normal life. If not, then she’d be one of many suddenly knocked to their knees by a pandemic no one expected or could ever have imagined.

I still see her in my mind.

Unfortunately the giant still holds our world aloft, tilting it precariously in his huge hand. Shaking it while our very lives are possibly forever altered. Staring in at us as we try to come to grips with a new normal.

A time when our lives did not include masks and constantly washing hands and looking at strangers on the street wondering if they are contagious.

While the numbers of the dead and dying continue to climb at an unnerving and inexplicable pace.

And I guess that’s where we’ll stay until the giant sees fit to set our world down and let the dust settle while we regain our footing.

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56 Comments

  1. A lovely piece of writing! I am a lurker to your blog, but wanted to comment. It’s unfortunate that many are quick to retreat to negativity. Your story could have been taken at face value, or led to deep, introspective thought. That’s a indication of a good story. Unfortunately some readers missed that point. It often takes more work to tease out what a story means to us personally. In my opinion the quick negative responses that have become so common recently, take no work. There is no introspection, and inspection of our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. There seems to be much loud, bullying communication nowadays. I feel that type of “communication” serves the goal of attempting to silence, and no real other purpose. I’m an “old lady”, but when I was in school, I was taught that in America we had the freedom to a melting pot of colors, beliefs, thoughts, and so on. To be jumped on for having a thought that differs from another, is part of our freedom. The bullying we witness and experience from people from the top to the bottom, is wrong. Keep writing and keep thinking!

  2. I understand what you’re saying Brenda but don’t jump to conclusions.
    I know people that don’t drive who use rolling suitcases to do shopping instead of those rolling carts that some people use. The first time I saw it was when a new neighbor moved into the apartment complex i was living in, when i asked her the next time i saw her if she enjoyed her trip she laughed and explained it to me. Since then i noticed that more often in the stores as well.

  3. I hate the new normal because it is so very abnormal. It is not normal to creep down grocery aisles fearful of exposed faces, and to turn away quickly when someone comes too close to my six foot boundary. It is not my normal to wince when an old friend forgets and reaches out to hug me when we meet . It is not normal to avoid your family and friends, to be afraid to go to work, or to worry that your cough might be the start of the virus. And it certainly is not normal to go to bed at night and wonder if tomorrow will be the same as today with limits, masks , frantic hand washing and dread that the old normal may never come back.

  4. I found myself feeling on both sides of the coin here…while my heart does go out to people today…and if the lady was very old, she may have needed some help…if my age, maybe not…I am considered old by the way, even though I still have all my wits… But we helped a woman for over 2 years a couple years back…in big and small ways…and about the time we had to move in order to help our daughter, her treachery in our lives was made known (by she herself)…we were floored. Had no idea and maybe never would have either…but she made clear what she did and how she did it. It DID impact us very negatively. I am not saying I will never help another person…but if I do, I will find more ways to do so anonymously…totally…rather than just at times…I mean what do you do when someone asks you to help them? In retrospect I feel certain she was a sociopath…and not really maybe so bad off as it looked…or just simply enjoyed messing with other people’s lives. Here I am almost 68 yrs old and I do not think I have ever been “taken” so badly by someone outside of kin, in all my years. It makes it very hard for me to know what to do…I do like to help others…but let me tell you, this woman would have done exactly like the woman Brenda saw, if it fit her goals…if it was the woman I knew, she would have been on the prowl for another “victim”…though I do not like to call myself one. It has changed our lives…neither Hubby and I have desires now to get to know anyone we do not already know. So in this area, being we moved here just 3.5 yrs ago, we keep to ourselves and with our daughter and her kids. Will that change? I do not know. I know our neighbor a bit and have taken him food, etc…and he gives us his newspaper everyday…so we both feel equal in that I guess… All of us could do more to give I think, but maybe for us, it will be just over internet, via mail, in ways the receiver can never figure out who we are!! For the most part. Just a thought…
    And in comparing this virus to the flu in 1918…no, it is not the same…yes, bad enough today, but the one in 1918 was way quicker…but people who appeared well in the morning, dropped dead by evening in that one…according to what my kin always told me…we lost no kin in that flu…but one of my mom’s aunts had to raise her sister’s son because both parents dropped dead about the same time. That was an aunt by marriage…so no direct kin.

    1. That happened to me and my young family (young at the time) as well. What started out as kindness on my part spiraled down into multiple requests and phone calls each day asking for things, help, etc. She would want to come over and I would have to go get her. She was profoundly obese (400 pounds and petite) and could barely walk. I certainly couldn’t lift her. I only had one chair she could fit in and she broke that. As a young mother of two at the time in nursing school, I soon realized I did not have the time or energy to deal with it. When I would say no, she grew hateful. That was my first lesson in being careful with the people I chose to help.

  5. I’m wondering if perhaps this woman wasn’t homeless, but maybe has dementia and walked out of the house she was living in? I see local news reports quite often in my area about police looking for an elderly person with dementia that is missing because they simply walked out of the house.

  6. I like how you write, how you look at things, it gets me to thinking in a different way. When I see a person, I always tend to want to know the end of the story. Blessings for a lovely weekend.

  7. Could be suffering from dementia. HUD does have housing that adjusts to you income, they cater to seniors. You must have it in your area.

    1. The ones I know of in this area are more akin to slums. I know I wouldn’t want to live in one. But I know people in other states who have found wonderful accommodations and are very happy with their housing.

  8. Lovely bit of writing and putting the reader into the scene with you.

    I’m sorry about the negative comments. I’m not sure why they felt so defensive about this piece.

    1. I wish I knew. What is it about the mentioning of the coronavirus makes some of the commenters so testy? Nearly 110,000 people in the US alone dead and we should mourn them. Not seem to mock the virus that killed them.

  9. I read and love your blog everyday Brenda & look forward to it. Always something interesting going on & I appreciate your decorating & plant tips & your blog is a nice place to enjoy what is going on with you, your precious fur babies, family & your very interesting thoughts. I’m sorry for any negative comments that you receive. If a reader doesn’t have something nice & pleasant to say don’t say anything at all. Don’t spoil a special place that Brenda has created for us all & again, thank You Brenda for your interesting posts & the time you spend writing them & posting such beautiful photos!

    1. I thank you for your kind words. I explicitly have a caveat above the comments asking them to please not leave negative comments and some ignore that as though they have the right to bring their negativity here where it is clearly not wanted. I hate that they expose the rest of you to their anger or whatever it is that compels them to write what they do.

  10. I feel those that cannot understand your beautiful
    writing & causing many of us to see where we
    could be. Have they ever seen a homeless person
    and stopped to offer a bottle of water or put them
    In a hotel room for the night.given a bouquet of flowers to a homeless person.
    Brenda, you open our eyes to observe people more.
    So we can whisper a prayer for them.
    Brenda, keep sharing your soul searching &
    Helping us see, not just see, but to question
    our own heart…our feet could be without
    shoes. 🙏🙏😇😇angels are among us and you are ONE😇🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹
    ❤️❤️🌺🌺🌸🌸🌼🌼🌻🌻
    Martha p

    1. The whole point of the story about the woman with the suitcase was not really to tell her story, but to make us think about a time when it might be OUR story.

  11. My first thought would be that she was walking to do some grocery shopping and the suitcase is for carrying her groceries home.

  12. Loved this piece. I often wonder about people when I see them out and about. If I were writing this story, I would assume she was a much loved sufferer of dementia who has managed to escape her caregiver.

    I was startled and dismayed by some of the comments today. I wonder if it is the effects of the full moon.

    1. Full moon? I don’t know. They often seem to find something political in what I write and it pisses them off somehow. Maybe they fear they’re losing the bully in the WH and that angers them. Because he is the biggest bully I know of. He likes to tear people down and call them names. He is thin skinned. Maybe this applies to them as well. I just don’t know.

      1. Brenda, did you write this reply to Brenda N’s comment or is this another person named Brenda trying to make it look as though it is written by you?
        I ask because this does not sound like a response from you at all. I gasped as I read it.
        Because I know you had asked that comments regarding your post not be made political. I have and most others have respected that request. Unfortunately, there will sometimes be that person who just cannot help themselves that will choose to post something negative. But not you Brenda. I went back and read it again and I still feel this was not written by you.
        You requested no negative comments which is why I do not believe this negative reply to Brenda N’s comment was from you. Please say it ain’t so! I saw nothing wrong with the post you did today and I thought it was very well written.

          1. Wonderful, Brenda. I did not think it was written by you. It did not sound like you.
            I enjoy reading your daily blog and hearing about the antics of Ivy and sweet Charlie..

  13. My impression on reading this is that Brenda is a writer, not a reporter. She takes an idea,an impression, and tells a story. Everyone is bringing something to this that comes from their own thoughts. I write also, and so that’s how I see this, a story. Just saying. Relax, folks!
    Mary(not Brenda – lol!)

  14. I also enjoy Brenda’s blog! As you said, it is Brenda’s blog and she can say whatever she would like ! If someone doesn’t like what is said just move on without a derogatory comment!

  15. People people, don’t be so harsh to Brenda. It is her blog, her thoughts! Brenda, I enjoy hearing of your daily experiences and adventures.

    1. There are always going to be mean little people in the world. I wish they’d just go away. It is my blog. They don’t have to read it.

  16. I thought I’d check on what’s going on in Oklahoma with regard to eviction, which have been a nation-wide issue since millions of people have lost their incomes and most families in the United States can’t manage to scrape together $400 cash to pay for an emergency car repair, let alone pay several months’ rent with no income coming in. In many states, there have been long delays in obtaining unemployment benefits, and some people who are part of the “gig” economy are not covered by unemployment benefits. They have nothing except whatever property they may own and whatever savings they may have. So – here is an article about the issue of eviction in Oklahoma. The state has the 11th highest eviction rate in the country. For it’s size, that is truly frightening. There HAS to be a better way to treat our fellow Americans.

    ttps://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/city-councils-in-tulsa-and-okc-to-consider-calling-for-moratorium-on-evictions/article_ba8433c9-cfaa-554b-8c0f-b411d0ad34c2.html

  17. I hope the lady was simply walking to a relative’s or friend’s to spend a few nights. Prayers for all the people struggling in these challenging times.

    1. Me too. I wasn’t just seeing a woman and her story. I have no idea what her story was. I was trying to define a moment of fear and desperation in the world we currently live in.

  18. This pierced my heart. I never thought about the first day one becomes homeless. Brenda, you have a way with words that paints vivid pictures for the mind and gives food for thought.

    1. I don’t know at all what her story was. It just got me wondering what it would be like to be in the first days of homelessness, and I was writing in that vein.

  19. Brenda, once again, I find it amazing, how you can describe something, or somebody, and put a picture into words. I still think you should write a book. I would certainly buy it, if you did. Hugs from WI, Bonnie

    1. You must not be someone who has lost a loved one to coronavirus or you wouldn’t be so cavalier about it. What is it that really pisses you off about it? Please enlighten me.

  20. The “giant”????? You certainly made a lot of assumptions about this woman after only one look.

  21. Good morning Mary, Did you make a point to stop and talk to the woman and ask her her story? Be the change you want to see the world.
    Have a nice weekend.

    1. I completely agree. Be part of the change. Don’t just assume the worse. If you’re that concerned, take the time to pull over and have a beautiful conversation with her and get the facts. Ask how you can help.

    2. First, my name is not Mary. And second, I think “be the change you want to see the world” is a bit harsh in these particular circumstances. You don’t have to read it. And if you have nothing positive to give to the discussion, please keep your grievances to yourself.

      1. I do apologize for the name flub.
        And I have to disagree, I believe that the Quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, is far from harsh….a true definition of positive. I am truly dismayed that you find my words a “grievance”…..I think you may be aging me out of your blog.
        Have a nice day…..hope you can be the change…..

    1. God does not cause pandemics that kill millions of people and cause such pain and suffering. They are a part of nature. Viruses that have killed millions around the world have been happening since the dawn of time. There are records of such events in ancient historical accounts and, of course, most people have heard about the bubonic plague and the Black Death, that forever changed the course of history in Europe and brought about an end to the old feudal system. What is happening right now in the United States appears to be a repeat of what happened with the so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic that killed at least 635,000 Americans in 1918-1919 and killed 50 million (conservative estimate) worldwide. This is not the work of God.

        1. I have had a lot of idle time in my life and I’ve used a lot of it to just watch people. In the city I think I’d see at least one or two thought-provoking situations a day. I tried to always think well of the person who caught my eye – as you have done for this lady. In the city I often consider that the person is homeless, but there’s another syndrome that I see often. I am a person with mental illness, but I have a roof over my head, plenty of healthy food to eat, and doctors who prescribe medications that keep my feet on the ground. Even with all that I’ve found myself in the grocery store with my pajamas on more than once. And who knows what else I might do someday. Perhaps I’ll find a lovely suitcase with wheels and take it out for a stroll. Maybe I’ll pretend I’m walking a beautiful purebred dog, or leading a pony out to pasture. Maybe I’ll have an idea in my mind about visiting a friend and I’ll walk and walk, enjoying the fantasy until something else captures my imagination and I head off in another direction.

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