Monday, August 13, 2012

Is love blind (and deaf)?

Living in Las Vegas I became used to seeing homeless people. They have an area off of highway 15 north that we call Tent City. You can see the small tents that they live in. I got used to seeing dirty people on the corner of a busy intersection holding their sympathy signs about how hungry or stranded they were. I used to look the other way and roll up my windows, I'd even lock the door. It became such an everyday occurrence that I became desensitized to it and was able to look them right in the eye with my window rolled down and tell them "no". Then one August day, in walked Mr. & Mrs. Hurt.

I was at work when a couple walked in. I greeted her but she didn't respond in any way. I brushed it off and waited for the man with her to come in the door. She stood quietly and patiently until he came in and walked up to my desk. He took out his pen and paper and told me that he was deaf and obviously couldn't speak. In a series of quick notes back and forth I learned that he and his wife were displaced from hurricane Rita. They drew social security but were currently homeless. The police picked them up the night before at a Waffle House and put them up in a motel for a night. As kind as that was, they had the same problem at check-out time, back on the streets.

My place of business has nothing to do with providing help to homeless or any kind of aide. My best uneducated guess was to call the Salvation Army. They had room for the couple! I was proud to tell Mr. Hurt that I had been able to help them. He shook his head and then wrote that his wife was deaf and blind. They had been married for 25 years and he would not go to a shelter unless they could be together because she could not communicate and they didn't want to be apart. I could feel the tears well up but I held them off so I could make more calls. After an hour and a half, someone finally suggested that I call the First United Methodist Church. The associate Pastor there was able to help but he didn't have a vehicle available to come get the couple. I volunteered to take them to meet the Pastor at the motel near his church. I took all of our notes and put them in an envelope to help the Pastor make sense of what was going on. A co-worker and myself helped them to my car and we took them a mile away to the motel.

In between my phone calls to churches and charities and and my notes to Mr. Hurt, I saw him communicate with his wife in such a loving way. It was just sign language but I could tell that he loved her so much. Without a single word, this couple, Mr. & Mrs. Hurt, managed to touch me in a way that I will never forget. I will continue to keep them in my prayers.

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