© Paulissa Kipp
When I was out shopping yesterday, I saw a homeless person over by the Ace Hardware on 90th. He was wrapped in a coat and further bundled against the frigid cold by a heavy blanket. Nowhere in sight were things like a hat, scarf, gloves or mitten or shoes. At first I thought he might be waiting for the bus, though he was quite a ways from the stop if that were the case. I went into the store and did my shopping but the image of this man huddled against the cold burnished itself into my mind. I came across a rack with hat, mittens and scarves on clearance and bought one of each. I keep an extra pair of socks in the car in case I get stuck in the snow; I grabbed those out of the storage bin and approached the man.
His face was raw and wind burnt, lined by harsh weather and the years. A tear ran down his cheek. I touched him on the shoulder and said, "Sir you must be very cold. I hope these items will warm you. Would you care to join me for a cup of coffee and warm yourself?"
"You've warmed my heart just by stopping but a cup of coffee would be a treat", he said.
I got the car and pulled up beside him and watched him limp a bit as I helped him into the car. "Got that in the war. It acts up more when it's cold outside".
We went into the grocery store and took a seat at a booth in the restaurant. I ordered us both coffee and breakfast. The breakfast special arrived, 2 eggs over easy, toast, and hash browns. The man bowed his head before digging in and then said, "Do you believe in entertaining angels unaware?"
"I do", I said. "I think there are some who look at me and look through me as though by looking away or past me, they can make what is uncomfortable go away" he sighed. He wrapped the toast in his napkin, placed the package tenderly in his pocket, and said "For later".
"Would you like me to take you somewhere warm? You shouldn't be out so long in the cold."
"Yes, but I'd like to wash up a little first. If you'd excuse me." He slowly rose and shuffled to the restroom.
Meanwhile, I thought about he said as I paid our check. He's been in there a long time, I thought. Fifteen passed before I asked a waiter to please go and check on the older gentleman that had been sitting with me. The waiter returned and said, "I don't see him, ma'am."
"Surely he didn't disappear into thin air! Could you please check again?" I said.
The waiter walked off and returned a short time later. "I'm sorry, miss but he isn't there."
As I gathered my things, my eyes fell upon a crumpled, dirty piece of paper on his seat. I slowly opened it, afraid of invading the man's privacy though I didn't know where he went.
Three words jumped off the page; there were no more. "You are beautiful".
Yes sir, you are.