I became homeless due to medical reasons. Last August, I went blind from cataracts. I had them removed and now I can see OK. I just haven’t had much luck finding a steady job since then. I go to those Temp agencies, but that only gets you work for a short time. I can’t find anything steady. I have cancer, too. Sometimes I just feel too tired to go to the agency to get work. A couple of times, I fell asleep in the office. If they call your number and you don’t respond because you’re asleep, you lose your turn. A lot of people don’t want to hire anyone my age, they all want someone young. I haven’t seen any of my family in ten years, they’re all over Ohio, nobody lives in Cleveland. I tried to find out where they are but they aren’t listed in the phone book. Sometimes I think they’ll find me frozen to death. I try to stay elevated off of the ground. I usually sleep at a bus stop on the bench. I look at the schedules and try to sleep where the busses don’t run too late. I used to sleep at any stop, I got tired of that fast. The bus drivers would sometimes wake me up to see if I was OK. You don’t get any real sleep that way, then you’re tired the next day.
I really want to see my brother again before I die. I want to see my sisters again, too. I have a lot of nieces and nephews I’d probably never even recognize. It’s been a long time. My husband died years ago. After he died, I had to get a job. I never had a good job. I always made just a little money, enough to pay my rent and buy food. After I went blind I lost my apartment. Everything changed. I don’t cook anymore. I lost everything, even pictures of my family. Oh well, you can’t go back and change things. I just have to try to survive. I have to take things one day at a time.
Eileen is an elderly homeless women with health problems who the Grapevine talked to at West Side Catholic.
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published 1998 Issue 25