One of my writings that was posted on the THOS website in their “Stories of the Heart”….
Melanie Bates is one our Board of Directors for the Truro Homeless Outreach Society.
Born & raised in Truro, Melanie has spent over 30 years in the Hospitality Industry as a Baker and a Cook.
With her many talents of singing, song writing, guitar playing, poetry, graphics, web paging, digital painting, painting & crafts, Melanie is now putting pen to paper in writing the personal stories of the Lone Pear.
The “Lone Pear” was a painting she had done which is reflective of her new found independence since the passing of her husband… “Once a pair, now a Lone Pear”
Melanie has agreed to share a few excerpts of her writing in our stories of the heart…..
“It was a cold, dreary November morning; a time of year that has always been difficult with memories, yet this year seemed to compound with a sense of uncertainty. The woodpile was already depleting from an early cold snap. With estimates on what remained, I knew we would only make it through another month in burning wood.
Christmas was fast approaching.There were presents to bake, groceries to buy, bills to pay; a sense of panic yet somber realization that this year was going to be different and I would have to make the best out of what I had.
Volunteering at the homeless shelter seemed to bring some respite from everything for me. Knowing things were not the best at home, I knew there was someone else who knew what it was like and it gave me a sense of hope that I would get though this winter having people who connected with me. It is amazing when you intend to volunteer to help someone else and you yourself end up getting the most out of it.
Life has never been easy. Having lived for most my married life as a two-income family, it never was in our thoughts that were were considered living in “poverty” but that is what the stats labelled us as… it was only life to us and we knew no different. Now widowed, times are even harder if that is possible. Being on disability with $800.00 a month to maintain a house and all its bills is a balancing act and things do not get any easier. When seeing the Christmas index applications one day, I pondered if I should fill one out. Thinking on using the food bank also lingered in my mind… should I? My mind replayed all the comments I had heard over the years and wondered if I could…
Pride plays such a big factor in trying to appear to those around you that everything is OK. Fear that people would look down on me somehow for having less. The stigma and the judgmental comments seen and felt cuts through your self-esteem like a knife. The intolerance shown by some isolates and you feel so alone; perhaps that is why I felt at home at the shelter. I was one-step away from using it myself and understood how shame can be degrading with the labels people give.
So I filled out the Christmas index application and then decided to take it to one of the drop offs that was less conspicuous and I waited. It was one of the hardest things to do and I told no one of it.
As the weeks pressed on I heard of others getting their Christmas baskets and my heart sank and my mind went to that place… expect nothing and never be disappointed, but deep down the undercurrents of not feeling good enough and not deserving lingered… a habit that was all so familiar and oh so hard to break.
Coming home after a shift from the shelter there was a message on the phone. A lady who was a stranger saying she had my name for the Christmas index and wanted to check with me to see if there were any special diet needs or allergies before she delivered my basket. I had to replay the message several times to make sure I heard it right. I was like a child waiting for Santa and my wish this year for some food for Christmas had come true.
When Janet came to the door, she had a beautiful wicker basket filled with many items. As her husband handed me a turkey I thought I had been given a million bucks… but it continued… As they piled bag after bag onto my kitchen floor I was in shock of all the groceries being delivered. As quick as they came into my life, they were gone. As I looked through the bags tears started streaming down my face. In convulsive sobs, I fell to my knees amongst the food. Words can never describe how I felt that day, of the kindness shown by two strangers.
That was almost a year ago when all this transpired and still it brings tears to my eyes. Somehow, through life’s journey, you muddle through the best you can but it sure is nice having someone be there to offer a helping hand when you need it.”