Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The smell hits me as soon as I walk into the discharge pharmacy.

Unwashed. Unloved.

I wonder momentarily if my son smells that badly, but quickly realize it cannot be him.
I don't think the hospital would have let him go that long without a shower. And I am pretty sure I would have noticed it as we walked the two blocks from the hospital ward to the pharmacy.

There is a gentleman sitting in a chair at the pharmacy.

I wonder if he smells or if someone else just left the pharmacy.

The prescription is not ready and we have to wait.

The door opens again.
It is a woman about my age with an eight or nine-year-old girl.
The girl wears a polo shirt from an elementary school in my district.
Her long brown hair is pulled away from her face in a pony tail.
Her eyes are striking aquamarine blue.
She is beautiful.

She and the woman converse about school. She did hard math. She went to gym. She ate grilled cheese.  The girl asks if she can ride her scooter when they get home and the woman tells her she will have to ask her mother. I decide the woman must be her grandmother.

I look away and when I look back she has pulled her shirt up over her nose.

She stays that way a long time, probably for almost five minutes.

Her grandmother finally notices and asks her what she is doing.

"It stinks in here," she announces.

The man, who has been sitting silent since the girl and her grandmother came in, but now he speaks.

"It's me," he says. "I live outside."

And then he apologizes for smelling bad.

The woman doesn't say anything.

The little girl with the gorgeous aquamarine eyes doesn't say anything.

I want her grandmother to tell her to apologize.

I want her to tell the little girl to be kind.

I want her to explain that not everyone has a home and a shower and a warm bed to sleep in.

But she does not.

She does not say anything.

And I want to cry.

Because there are way too many people who smell in Denver.

And way too many people who do not do anything about it.


Linda B said...

And don't you wonder why that grandmother didn't know to say something? I appreciate your story, Carol, and appreciate my own growing up when I was taught to respect each person I met, to say hello, ask how they were if we met them down at the store, etc. Thanks for the story. Hugs to you too.

Tara said...

Was it always this way? It seems as though we’ve become so much less kind to each other. And shame on that grandmother.

Mary Lee said...

Heartbreaking. On many accounts.

Tabatha said...

I hope things are going better for you and your family now that your son is with you. Thinking good thoughts for you!
Perhaps the grandmother didn't have her granddaughter apologize because she hadn't said something about the man in particular? We can hope that she was taken off guard and they had a discussion later. Some folks have a hard time coming up with what to say on the fly.

Loralee said...

Oh Carol...powerful message...

Kim Oldenburgh said...

Carol-I still hop on over to your blog when I can and you still take my breath away with your writing. I was so hoping you were going to say that the woman (or child) did something. I'm sad for that man, but mostly for the lesson that could have been taught for that little girl. Maybe, just maybe, it was discussed later.