Closer to the edge than we think

Who are the invisible people?     The people who are unemployed–seems like forever. The people who use drugs or alcohol to the exclusion of anything else in their lives. The people who pass by us on the street who appear to dress pretty well, but have no home.

People who are out on the street begging with their children. The people who show up at Ms. Bea Gaddy’s for food and shelter daily. The people who can’t keep possessions from year to year. They don’t have a history like most people do–in pictures–because mementos have been left behind in their constant moves when they lose their housing.

Inheritances of money and land as well as other opportunities that some people never get and may never get in life were lost because of ignorance (even with education), drugs, lack of education, happenstance, bad luck, etc.

John died from AIDS and Hepatitis. His girl friend, a drug user, went into the hospital before him, but John died.

Shannon lives with a man she hasn’t known long while she is paroled to a house that was supposed to be for five women in transition from drugs, etc. While at this house, Shannon observes that the directress of the house uses drugs along with several of the other occupants.

Another occupant of the house, Joyce, used to have five kids living with her, but all were taken away and split up between 3 different homes because of her and her boyfriend’s drug abuse when they were living in their own rented “slum landlord” house.

Another man, Sam, appears to be on his way to becoming an invisible man. For years, Sam was independent and set in his ways and well-to-do by all accounts. He worked all the time at a great-paying job, but managed to get himself and his mortgage on his home into large arrears.   Recently, I heard that Sam had got involved with drug dealers indirectly by coming to the rescue of a former female lover, Vivian, who in recent years had developed a large drug habit and stole drugs. Vivian, once part of Sam’s household, had moved several times since she used to live with Sam. From what I’ve heard, Sam was made to sell drugs because he got involved with Vivian’s problem.

Sam was a man who was single, owned his own home, car, and had a 401K and other stock options on his job. An invisible person would think Sam was rich and lucky, but another thing that leads to invisibility is that Sam cut all ties with his family years before.

Invisible people who cut ties with family or whose families cut the ties, end up buried as “John Doe’s”. There is no insurance to cover his or her death and burial. There are no mourners to give them the proper send-off–to note that they even existed! After all, even if you never get your 15 minutes of fame, it’s still nice to be acknowledged that you were here!

Hunter is an invisible person. He’s in a coma in a terminal care facility where he’s been for 10 years. His relatives stopped visiting him long ago after his stroke worsened into the coma. They say it’s because of drug abuse. This was a man who worked for a living and had an apartment with a girl friend and a child.

Invisibility can be any color, race, ethnicity, sexual persuasion, social group, or economic standing. Once you fall between the cracks, it’s very hard to come back into the visible world.

The things the invisible people leave behind show that they exist. Before I realized there were homeless people, I used to be indignant at the piles of “rags” I thought were trash. But the “trash” was really shelter and clothing for people. That’s also when I realized why I would spell urine in so many public places.

In the present time, we are all from a paycheck to a billion dollars away from invisibility.

Rosa Griffin

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