the rose of pender street

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the rose of pender street

Post  thanatos on Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:38 am

for those of you who know we well you know that I post stories about some of the people I meet on the street. They are often not very happy stories but they deserve to be told.

this is one of them.

She said her name was Rose and that was what everyone called her. She had lived on the streets since she was 13 years old, runing away from sexual abuse by her stepfather. Her mother had died by her own hand a few years before as a result of alchol abuse. When I met her she said she was in her 70's.
Hard to imagine living on the streets for so long, The hardships she had to endure to live. She had lived in just about every major city in North America at one time or another. She could'nt serve anywhere in WWII because she had "a wee drinking problem" back then.
She had actually been one of the lucky ones who had been evacuated from New Orleans just before Katrina and after being shuttled from city to city managed somehow to find her way here to Vancouver. This was as far as she would travel.
Her face was scarred by wrinkles and the reminders of numerous fights from when she was younger. She had done many things to survive from working as a waitress to "lady of the evening." (She thought the term prostitute was too harsh.)
She told me about her life one cold night in January down in Chinatown where she called home. Home was a collection of shopping carts and boxes that could be moved from place to place in the laneways and allys. Other street people kept an eye out for her to see that she did alright.
She divided her time between the different missions and hostles and panhandling. On a good day she said she could make almost fifty dollars. Many of the local restaurants knew of her and would give her something to eat now and then.
She had no family except others like her on the street.
She was friendly with me and intrigued by my representation of death. She asked me a favor before I left her that night and that was to dance with her. SHe wanted to tell everyone she had danced with death once before leaving this world. So, while a semi=stoned young man with a mangey mohawk attemted to bang out 'the tennesee waltz' on a broken down guitar I full-filled her request and we waltzed on Pender Street in front of chinese restaurants in the cold winter air.

I found out this morning that she was admitted to hospital early in April and passed away quietly about a week later. She is buried in Mountainview Cemetary with a small numbered stone to show the world that she once existed.

I hope she found peace after such a life.

thanatos
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