Have you ever come across a beggar who asks you if you want a sandwich? Her sandwich? I didn’t think so. Well you obviously haven’t met Josephine. Josephine is a lady who sits outside the Tesco’s not far from where I live and although she doesn’t have much, imparts such joy and love by just showing care and compassion.
The first time I heard about Josephine was from a friend of mine. He stated that he went past Josephine one day in a bit of a hurry who said to him, ‘are you okay? You don’t look alright? Have you had a bad day?’ He turned to look at her and replied that he was fine. She insisted that he didn’t look like he was in a good mood and she hopes that everything is alright. He turned to face her now and stated that he was okay just a bit stressed out at work. She then asked him if he was hungry? He confessed that he was a little bit peckish and she offered him her egg and cress sandwich. Astonished, he intended to find out more about her. They spoke about her life struggles and why she was homeless and after their conversation they parted ways. Hearing the story from his side, he stated he had no cash on him, so he could have easily just walked away and been satisfied that he didn’t have any money on him but instead he felt compelled to go to the ATM and get some cash out just for her. You see there was something about Josephine. Irrespective of the obvious state she was in, her position in life, she offered the little she had to someone who obviously had enough and chose to care.
That for me was the most remarkable thing. Josephine is remarkable.
The second time I heard about Josephine wasn’t from someone else. It was me personally encountering her on my walk home. Having heard her story from my friend I was looking for her for a few days and couldn’t see her around, however a few days ago I went out with some friends and rushed home to the Tesco so I could buy rice. I know, laughs. Rushing to the Tesco and seeing that they had locked the door, I just heard a female voice to the right say, ‘sorry my darling they are closed.’ I turned to see who was talking and sure as day it was Josephine. She continued and said, ‘That’s a sparkly top!’ I laughed and said thank you. ‘Have you just been out then?’ I said, ‘yes. I went out with some friends.’ ‘Have a good time did you?’ I said ‘I had a great time thank you, how are you?’ She said she was fine although her hip has been giving her some trouble. Inquiring more about her state of health I find out that she needed a hip replacement so she’s having trouble moving around, I also find out that she has only been homeless for 9 months. She was kicked out of her house which has now been occupied by drugees who shoot up in her home, have soiled the carpets with their excrement and blood, her fridge door has been taken off its hinges and so has her door. I looked at her with saddened eyes. She then said, ‘well that’s the bad news. The good news is that I have been allowed to move back into my home and I should be in my house by the new year!’ I said that’s great news! She replied in the affirmative, that she is in the process of cleaning out her house and she goes there in the day every day and does a bit of cleaning as much as her hip allows her.
I then asked her, her name, she said ‘Josephine and yours?’ ‘Georgette’ I said. She stated that she was pleased to meet me. At this point I confessed that I heard about her from my friend who she remembered fondly. She gushed about him and went on and on about how much of a lovely person he was, how he was shocked that she had asked him whether he wanted a sandwich, and the conversation they had. She said that she didn’t tell him her story for him to give her money; they were just having a friendly conversation. She stated that she was shocked when he gave her money, quite a considerable amount. She said that she shared her story meeting my friend with anyone that wanted to listen as she was just so taken by him. She then told me that she used the money he gave her to buy herself a duvet for her new home. My heart smiled. She said that she asked him if he was alright because he didn’t look very happy. I said yes, he tends to get quite stressed and she said that just because this area is considered quite a wealthy area does not mean that everyone is happy or everyone is wealthy and so when she comes across someone that doesn’t look okay, she asks. She then tells me how no matter how much or how little people give her, she is grateful. It could be their last coin or penny they are choosing to give her. I was just amazed.
Josephine and I are in conversation for at least twenty minutes at this point and she shares more of her story with me. She says to me that her mother died when she was thirteen and since then she was involved in all sorts of petty theft and shoplifting, hard use of heroine all of which landed her in prison. She accepted FULL responsibility for her actions. She served her term and still didn’t become clean after getting out. She continued to use until the day her partner at the time died from an overdose of heroine. She couldn’t get a vein that day and he could, she left him to use the bathroom and by the time she came back, he was gone. That was her turning point, her trigger, she didn’t want anyone to go through the guilt she felt, not being able to help him, especially not her young daughter. She has a beautiful little girl (she was clean during her pregnancy) and her daughter was taken from her when she was four and adopted when she was eight and she admitted that her daughter will have better opportunity where she is now, although it kills her that she can't be with her. She also shared her suspicions that her daughter probably wants to meet her now that she is twelve as the social services people have been coming around a lot more often and asking a lot of questions. She said that when she moves into her home, she would want her daughter to see her then and hopefully by then she would have had treatment for her hip.
"Do you believe in God?" - Josephine
Then she asked me, 'do you believe in God?’ I just stood aghast. I said yes. She said good, that she believes in God. She was raised a Catholic by her mother but turned away from Him for a while when her life was turned upside down but that she prays and she has a personal candle and her praying books that she keeps and she prays with. I stated that it was lovely and as long as she has a relationship with him in prayer she would be alright. She said yes, that she prays often. It all started to make sense now, it was only the heart of Christ, the blessing of the Holy Spirit and the sheer grace of God that could make Josephine what she was, a jewel, a blessing onto others.
We spoke more about the church she goes to once in a while as well her twenty year love affair now culminating in a relationship with a man that ‘loves the bones off me,’ she said. It was just amazing, two people able to be together after so many years. He she told me, was in and out of prison over the years but is so worried about her he swore to her never to get into prision again. She explained that she sometimes soils herself and he will carry her, clean her up, he cares for her and helps her as she hobbles due to her hip. I was just astounded. How many of you can actually say you love someone that much? How many of you can actually say that you will be there for your partner if ever things got this tuff. Josephine is the story of humility.
"Loves the bones off me" - Josephine
You see you don’t need money to touch someone’s life, you just need yourself, that’s all Josephine has. All she offered was an ear to listen, and a heart full of compassion to notice when someone wasn’t okay. All we crave as humans is someone to notice us, to feel valued, loved, appreciated and cared for, and Josephine reminded me of the Widows Mite in 2016.
All we need in this world of sin, is compassion - Georgie