January 2002, by Gary Picard


I get an hour for lunch. I run home, grab a quick bite, let the dogs out, check the phone  messages, make sure the house is picked up, bring the dogs in and crate them. My wife  usually calls me while I’m in the bathroom so I’ve learned to take the phone in with me.

Then I jump in the truck and head back to work.

One day last week driving home for lunch I was stopped at a red light here in town. Diagonally across the street is a small, broken down trailer park. Absolutely nothing but old neglected trailers scattered loosely on a few dirt roads. Old cars here and there.  I’ve passed this park for years.

The trailer I notice is closer to the road than the others. It’s white, and the skirt on the bottom is rusted and in some places missing.  Plastic covers the windows and the metal shed by the back door has caved in under the weight of snow and ice.

But what I saw next was unexpected. On the steps was an old man, very tall. He was wearing a black sweater with gray slacks and black dress shoes. He had thick white hair and a large red nose. I could see he was hunch-backed.

The light turned green and as I drove by he bent down. He was feeding a cat. As the cat ate, he petted the animal’s side and the cat curled his tail around the man’s leg. And he stood there, bent over on a cold day in January.

That simple gesture of love from a man to his cat against the backdrop of his surroundings was emotional and moving. It appeared they both have had hard times. Here was a man, with huge, thick hands that still looked like they could do a hard days work, patiently and lovingly taking care of his friend.


2 thoughts on “January 2002, by Gary Picard

  1. This is a special poem. You have a compassionate eye and a great conversational tone. I enjoyed this and even got a little teary-eyed. I wish I could drop a case of food on his doorstep. Pearl

  2. True story.
    I used to keep a journal and this entry has stuck with me. Partly because I drive by that place twice a day, but more importantly because it’s still a comfort to think about. Haven’t seen that gentleman in years, someone else is living there now.

    It was the weirdest thing. Just an ordinary, everyday event that I feel grateful to have caught a glimpse of. And it gives me hope.

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