Expenses leave widower with cancer with no food, rent

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Sal Dimiceli | December 16, 2013

Dear W.C.,

I work at an apartment complex. I am worried about one of our older tenants. He has been sick and is two months behind in his rent. The management has given him an eviction notice but I don't know where he will go. His wife died years ago and he does not have any family. Could you please check on him?

Dear Readers,

I visited this man after speaking to the woman that wrote the letter. She asked me to not tell him she had written on his behalf. She was worried about losing her job. I assured her I would not reveal who had brought him to our attention.

After knocking on the door of the apartment I waited several minutes for an answer. The chained door was slowly opened by a senior man. He looked at me puzzled and asked, "Do I know you?" I said, "Not yet but let me introduce myself." After we spoke at the cracked door for a few minutes, I explained to him why I was there, and I showed my identification, he invited me inside.

I entered the apartment not knowing what to expect. After his initial hesitation he seemed truly happy to have someone to talk to. He showed me his small apartment. It was a little crowded with old furniture and pictures of people who I assumed were his family. I asked him who some of the people were in the old photos. He pointed out his mother and father, his wife and daughter. "They are all gone now," he said sadly. I did not see any pictures of his daughter any older than a teenager. He said, "She got cancer when she was a teenager. That was almost forty years ago. There wasn't anything they could do for her. Now I got cancer and the treatment doesn't seem much better."

The senior man told me his wife passed away years ago, "From a broken heart." is how he put it. "After our daughter died my wife lost all hope. She just couldn't cope with the loss. She died from a heart attack."

I asked him about his cancer. He said he had done some chemo but it had made him so sick he couldn't function. He was not seeking any other treatment for cancer. He had made his peace with dying. I asked him about his delinquent rent and if he had any other outstanding bills. He told me how he had been trying to buy his wife's and daughter's graves a nice headstone for years. He had never been able to save enough to get something nice. I asked if he had spent his rent on this and he admitted he had, along with his utilities money. He said, "I couldn't die without making sure they had a proper burial place. Who would do this once I'm gone?" I asked if he knew he was in risk of eviction.  He said, "Yes, but I can die homeless." He held his frail hand up to his eyes to cover his tears. I could see his tears pass by his hand onto his cheeks. I told him, "No. We will not let you become homeless. The Time Is Now to Help will do all we can to make sure you stay right here in this apartment."

After I asked the senior gentleman's permission, I looked around the small apartment. Everything was surprisingly neat for an elderly man living all alone. I commented on that and he said, "What else do I have to do with myself? My wife has been gone a long time so I do things for myself." I did notice his refrigerator and cabinets were nearly empty. I asked if he cooked and when was his last meal? He told me he was a good cook when he had money for food, but he had spent every last penny he could on the headstone. His last meal had been a can of tomato soup. I asked what he liked to eat. He was puzzled by the question. He said, "First you offer rent, now you ask me what I like to eat. Are you for real or am I dreaming?" With that he leaned over and gave me a gentle push, then said, "Okay you are real." I laughed. He wiped his tears away with his forearm and asked, "What is this Time Is Now helping?" I explained about all of you and how together we do good works to help our fellow Americans. He sat in thought for a minute then asked a few more questions. The elderly man concluded with, "There really are people who care? Before you came by I thought I would starve before the cancer got me." I immediately called for a hot meal to be delivered and made another call for help filling his refrigerator and cabinets. I watched as fresh tears fell while I made these phone calls. Within a short time we were eating together. After a good meal and several hours of my visit I could see the elderly man felt much better.

I returned the next day. I brought three months of rent checks and a check for his past due utilities. He was in shock and speechless. When he looked up from the checks he had tears in his eyes. He said, "I never expected to have new friends at this stage in my life. I thought I would die all alone on a park bench somewhere." I could see from the look on his face how much he had been in fear of that very real possibility. I grabbed his hand and told him, "That is not how it's going to be, my friend." Our assistance put his budget back on track. Going forward he could afford his rent, food and utilities. It was the big purchase of the headstone that affected his financial situation.

Our elderly man still has cancer but is much happier living with dignity. He did not have to endure homelessness due to his act of love. His electricity was not shut off. His hunger was removed. Together we gave our fellow creation back his pride. We cared for his suffering and replaced his sorrows with compassion. The next time I talked to our elderly friend he said, "Tell all those angels from The Time Is Now to Help I still think I'm having a good dream." He laughed. I prayed, thanking God for allowing "us" to do our good works.

Thank you for reading our column and sharing the message of hope. Please network, share our message of love with all your family, friends and business associates. Please visit our website at www.timeisnowtohelp.org and like us on our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/thetimeisnowtohelp. The more who hear about our mission, the more pain and suffering we can relieve.

Health & Happiness, God Bless Everyone, W.C./Sal

Please Note We Have A New Mailing Address: Make checks payable to: The Time Is Now to Help, P.O. Box 1, Lake Geneva, WI 53147. The Time Is Now to Help is a federally recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization licensed in the states of Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax deductible, itemized thank you receipt showing how your donation provided assistance for the poverty stricken.                       

A Very Special Thank You: Fox Charities, Pentair Foundation, The Summertime Foundation, Dick & Jean Honeyager, Mark & Natalie Reno, Martin Business, Dan Mehring, Dorothy Butek, Delavan Service League, Charles & Donna Corson, Milton & Carol

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