The Forgotten Man

Jake had no references and no contact information when he appeared at my door asking if I had a unit available for rent. He was clean, polite, reasonably well spoken and old. He was pushing eighty and past the loud, drinking, lots of company stages if he had ever been in those categories. He seemed to merit a chance even though he really hadn’t supplied the normal information required to rent a unit. I had a place available. He moved right in.

Jake quickly made friends with a couple of other old geezers who lived in the block. He seemed quite content. The old boys would sit and drink coffee and tell tall tales for hours. Occasionally Jake would get out his violin and play for his company. If it was a nice day, he would have the door open and the neighbors could hear the music pouring out. Jake was quite a good musician. Nobody complained.

Over the next few months Jake told me bits about his life. Once he said that he used to have a store. Another time he said that he had been a rancher. Still another time he claimed to have land north of the city and that he was planning to build a new country grocery store and move out there.

As the months went on his stories became more frequent and more varied until I wasn’t sure which ones I should believe if any.

Then one month Jake missed paying his rent. I don’t know what he did with his pension cheque and neither did he.

Now I started getting told about valuable items he owned that he was going to sell for cash to pay his bill. One item he said that he had was a valuable gold coin. His violin became a Stradivarius. Then he couldn’t find the coin and he was sure someone had robbed him.

These stories about valuable things must have gotten around because one day while he was out his place was broken into. The complex was never broken into. People there were poor and had nothing worth stealing but somebody got into Jake’s place and trashed it. I doubt that they found anything worth stealing because I never saw anything in the place that a pawn shop would give you five dollars for – except – his violin. Yes! That was gone. Jake was devastated.

From then on Jake’s mental condition deteriorated rapidly. He mostly just sat and brooded. He didn’t seem to have any idea of how to cope with the situation. He definitely had some form of dementia.

By this time Jake was two months behind in his rent and even worse he didn’t seem to comprehend that he even owed rent. I didn’t know any relatives or friends to contact as he had no information on his rent application. During the time he had lived in the building he had had a few visitors but I had never met any of them so I had no idea who I might phone about his 1 condition. I phoned Social services but they said that he didn’t fit into any category that they looked after. He was too old. He was receiving an old age pension cheque and he was supposed to survive on that.

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The Forgotten Man

author
Shirley Hamilton started writing to fill some of the retirement hours and to record life memories. She hopes that someone will read about these bits of her life sometime – maybe even her kids.
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