By Elsie K. Neufeld. “So what happened to the people who were living next door?”
“You mean the campers?”
“Yes. The homeless people.”
“I dunno. The city got rid of them.
“And what do you think about that?”
“They were the best neighbours I ever had.”
“It didn’t bother you that they were camped right there?”
“Not at all. They looked out for my place.”
“Do you rent or own?”
“Own. I’ve lived here for 47 years.”
“So, you must have seen a lot during your time.”
“Oh, yeah. There used to be a house next door. And they were thieves. It got so bad I had to move out of my house for a while. Like I said, the campers were the best darn neighbours I ever had.”
“May I quote you on that?”
There followed a conversation in which Peter and I talked about how the homeless are people, with a story. People who didn’t set out to become homeless….
Who is he, and where does he live? His name’s Peter, and he lives on the Mission Highway, just north of George Ferguson Way. Beside the knoll that has been the site of “the Abbotsford shuffle.”
I went to that site today, took photos of small things left behind, and ended up taking photos of an old house with a really cool garden.
I hadn’t expected to meet Peter, but he came out when I was taking photos of the blooming forget-me-nots near the sidewalk.
I had wondered who lived in that house with a wonderful red door, and what it was like to have a tent village next door. And then he came and started talking, and told me what it was like. His own yard is tidy; and he’s an avid gardener, and he was happy to show me his favorite plants, and tell me the story about the chestnut tree he planted the first year he moved there.
I’m sure Peter isn’t afraid of Abbotsford’s homeless, in fact, I’m guessing that they might have occasionally knocked at his door. And chuckled, as I did, when reading the sign above the door: “Come on in. Everything else has gone wrong.”
Posted On Voices For Dignity