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This morning Denise over at My Life in Retirement reposted something she’d written in January 2010. It was such a beautiful and thought-provoking post (especially in our political climate these days) that I wanted to reblog it (but couldn’t figure out how!). It’s a post after my own heart. I hope it touches you in a special way, and thanks, Denise, for letting me borrow it in full.


January 19, 2010

Live long enough you will meet plenty of characters, or at least get to see them; everyday folks who wander past your life, through your life, or hang out there in your peripheral vision.  Forty some odd years ago (gee, that makes me sound ancient) a ‘character’ occasionally passed in my periphery.  I say in my ‘periphery’ ’cause if I saw her I trekked to the other side – of the street that is.

I never knew her full name until today when I read her obituary in the Detroit News.  Her name was Stella Paris and she died at 97.  She was one of so many homeless people I would see hanging around the Greektown area where I spent most of my time from 1966 til 1977, either attending classes at Wayne State’s Medical School or working at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

Frankly, Stella scared the dickens out of me.  She reminded my of one of our old neighbor ladies who chased kids with a rolling pin.  Not that Stella was violent, she was more ‘creepy’.  Standing on the corner yelling in some strange language, some of it Greek, some not.  One of my co-workers used to give her money.  Me, I never got that close.  You just never knew.

When I read the paper this morning and saw the story, I realized that never once did I ever think about the homeless folks who would often sleep in front of the heat vents in front of the hospital after I left my job.  I never wondered what happened in their lives that caused them to be on the streets when I was working there.  Was it their choice, or someone else’s?

As for Stella, no one seems to know what her story really was.  I would hope that at some point in her long life she was important to someone.  And that whatever demons seemed to haunt her all those years on the streets found their rest long before she finally did.

January 21, 2010

Well, just when you thought no one knew her, Stella Paris, that is, here comes her son giving an interview to the local paper.  Turns out that Stella was a mail-order bride from Greece in 1938.  An unhappy bride.  She had three sons with her husband; one son is now deceased.  She left her husband and children in the 50’s and started living in Greektown.  Sadly, until reading their mother’s death notice in the paper, they had not known of her whereabouts for the last 15 years.

Thanks to the Greektown merchants, Stella was laid to rest at their expense this morning.  May she truly rest in peace.

Since writing this I have often wondered how many folks are out there lost in this world to friends and family.



Picture Source: Winkgo