My first introduction to Abraham was on a cold snowy morning as I was taking a walk. Dressed to combat the chill that instantly struck my face I had barely made it to the next block in my neighborhood when I turned my head to the left to check for any vehicles before proceeding across. In the middle of the back alley lanes I seen a body laying there where no one should have been laying. This was a busy street and had a feeling he couldn’t have been there long. Running, the cold winter sucking the air out of my lungs, it was that cold. I seen a plume of air escape from this man laying in between the two alleys and then almost nothing. Standing over him shouting at him, “Are you okay, are you okay?” His eyes open there was no sign of life, almost a glaze as he stared to the sky.
Frantically looking up and down the alley a small older lady walking her dog came upon us and then a man parking his truck behind the apartment building. He came running over as I yelled for help. Asking for a cell phone I told him to phone an ambulance. He asked if this was my friend on the ground. “No, I don’t know him. I live in the neighborhood and happened to see him.” Staring down at the man on the ground who clearly was not dressed for winter wearing tattered clothes, barely there shoes and a weathered face I prayed that help would come for him soon. There was no air coming out of his mouth and the gaze was fixed.
I was given the phone and asked for that ambulance and as we all waited surrounded the man I told the dispatcher our location, who he was, how he came to be there, was I related to him, all those details that have to be taken care of. As I lived down the street from the EMS I knew it would be minutes before they got there and it was so. Those moments were a blur as me, the older lady and the man stood silently by. The man was quickly loaded onto the stretcher and into the ambulance and thus gone. The three of us parted ways but not before thanking each other for being there.
My mind would go back to that morning many times and often I would wonder of the welfare of this man. It was to be another winter morning not long after that I was in my backyard when he came down the alleyway dragging his right foot and limping along. Recognizing him from that cold wintry morning I approached this tall figure and told him I was there when he brought to the hospital. He broke out in a smile and told me that he had suffered a stroke and that he had just been discharged. He had limited mobility in one arm and his foot but was able to move around. He was homeless. He was hungry. Telling him to wait I ran to my kitchen and made him a sandwich and put that and some fruit, water in a bag which I gave him. As he was collecting bottles I also gave him mine from the garage. Off he went with thanks and a smile.
His name was Abraham Waskahat. He had been living on the streets for some time after coming in from Kehewin, AB. I do believe he was native to Frog Lake, AB. I asked him if he could go back and he told he had nothing there. He had nothing anywhere. His brown face weathered and wrinkled he carried a small backpack that appeared empty.
I made a friend. It was as simple as that. And had helped him. That was momentous. Thanking God for that morning when I really didn’t want to go for a walk but made myself do it. Seeing him from time to time I would give him my collection of bottles and tell him to wait while I made him a lunch. In a way I made it my responsibility to take care of him in a respectful manner. It was one rainy day as I seen him wearing a small jacket barely covering his upper body pushing a Safeway cart with all his belongings and catch of the day. Man, he looked soaked. Value Village happened to be close by so I purchased a man’s spring coat with a hood. Driving down Whyte ave I found him down a alleyway. This huge smile came over his face when he seen me. Oh the memory of that makes me happy. We traded his soaked ripped jacket for the warm one I had. He told me it was like Christmas. I didn’t have bottles but I did have water for him to drink and gave him a few bottles.
All this was in the space of two years or three. I knew I would be leaving my home of 29 years and would soon sell it the next year. Change happens and it was my time. Between the details of the realtor and packing and finding my new space my mind went to Abraham. What was he doing, was he okay as he had suffered another mini stroke just recently. So concerned for this person’s well being. Again I was gifted my last visit with Abraham as I drove through the inner city and seen him pushing a walker. He looked good and taken care of. Parking my vehicle I got out to visit him. He told me that the band chief of Frog Lake had found him and gave him monies owed to him. With that he was able to rent a house with him and his two sons. He told me that he had suffered his third stroke, hence the walker but that the Lord must have had him stay on this earth to help his two boys. He was arranging for them to receive their treaty cards. Sharing my news with Abraham that I too would be moving at the end of that month of April 2016 and was happy that I got to see him one more time. With a handshake and a smile I told him to take care.
It was this early morning, 5:00 am to be exact when he crossed my mind. It has been two and half years since I have seen my friend and wonder here he is. I hope he is okay where ever he is.