It’s hard to believe a year has passed since Tony died*. And I think to myself, ‘What has my experience of Tony meant to me?”
Small things, really.
It was a pleasant surprise to realize over time how many in the community had been aware of him, and thought about homelessness because of him.
Because of my long conversations with him, and reflections about the sort of experiences that can lead to his ‘lifestyle’, I find I see people who panhandle more clearly now as individuals, and can imagine them having siblings or children who worry about them. Or nightmares.
I realize that it doesn’t really matter if the fellow who gets my dollar or two turns around and invests in alcohol or drugs. If I compare potential reactions to him, I imagine that kindness is more likely to influence change, than a hostile or disapproving attitude – if anything will. And in any case, adding more unpleasantness to his life won’t make anything better.
Tony unknowingly brought people together who might never have known each other without his presence. And then when he died, more people were moved to “do something”. Like raise funds to have a bench installed on Roncesvalles. Some people felt they just didn’t want his life and death to “mean nothing”.
The best for me has been learning that there are even more compassionate, conscious people in Roncesvalles Village than I had realized. As I go about my activities here and there, I’m left with a warm, solid confidence in my little community. So Tony has left a legacy of sorts. He’d chuckle at that idea.