Home with Heart

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“If you are going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill once proclaimed this when fighting a treacherous battle. I believed this was an appropriate phrase when addressing Mr. Hart. That’s all I could think of. That’s all I wanted him to fell and embrace. That’s when I learned that everyone has a story. Everyone has something that they must overcome.
The sheltering clouds overpowered the sky when my family and I first met Mr. Hart. He was an elderly gentleman who had an unbound look of sadness in his eyes. At first he was shy, but when warmed up, he generated details of his family and life. He was the only one of his family left. Then it happened, one statement that changed my life. One statement that I will never forget. One statement I will never consign to oblivion.
“I have cancer. And I don’t know how much longer I have to live.”
This was not exactly what I had in mind when volunteering for Adobe Valley in Phoenix. After all, I only planned on aiding a stranger, but instead ended up creating shelter for a rejected, restrained, and bereaved friend. I did not know what to say at first. It’s ironic how the people that need help most get abandoned in the end.
“Let’s get started,” I uttered in an attempt to display sorrow while trying to change the subject. I was afraid of blurting something offensive, so we moved on and helped unload his ancient collections. We discovered he had but one piece of furniture, a bed, which displayed a failed attempt of a striped base laced with red stitching. My eyes began to water, triggering a chain reaction of a stuffy nose, outstretched heart, and unbalanced stomach. I wanted to reach out and save him from his disastrous pit, but he took pride in it and embraced it positively, constantly rearranging it in his barren chamber. He desperately needed furniture, so we bounced ideas off of each other. Eventually, we planned to gather donate appliances and hang fliers around the block. Adobe Valley, being a housing management, had numerous appliances, easily spared by the manager. Like a determined lioness on a hunt, I targeted as many places as I could, impaling bark and street poles as I leaped by. When I was finished, I returned to the den to support the rest of the pack. Aside from the fact there were no necessary household items, his soon to be abode wasn’t exactly a sanitary center. As soon as I walked in, I was outnumbered with foul scents that clenched the inside of my nostrils and anchored it shut. Needles teased my insides and swelled my throat shut. We immediately started cleansing the house, drenching it with high fumes and chemicals to mask the smell. I started on the back room, the best of the choices, and quickly scrubbed the baseboards, shined the windows, and cleared the walls until it was spotless. It was not perfection, but it dominated over the previous condition. By the time I finished, we had already accumulated a stove, a refrigerator, and other small devices. Believing I was done, I was disappointed when ordered to sanitize the grease machine. I peered into the inside and found a clump of unknown substance resembling a mix of hair, wax, and char, smelling worse than the bathroom of Wal-Mart. Nearly impossible to separate, the coat required a scrubbing pad and pure degreaser. About an hour into the job, the stove was decent enough to please human eyes, and the rest of the house was completed. It was hard to believe at first that we were done, for we wasted the whole day on the tedious project. The impossible task was an achievement in my eyes, but remembering Mr. Hart brought me back to reality, he really deserved more. I guess I wanted to do more fore the guy that gave life his all and got nothing in return. He had no family to consult, no friends, and no motivation to live past tomorrow. The least I could do was help him with his home.
“Bang.” All of a sudden there was a noise outside. I rushed to get a glance but found nothing through the obstructed window.
“Bang.” Another round sounded off in the distance. I pinpointed its location and cautiously moved toward it. I saw it was a golden haired retriever stuck under a fragment of metal, and attached to a broken chain. I figured he was lost and decided to find the owner. Mr. Harts eyes lit up when he discovered it. He wanted to find the owner and return it, and it pleased him to help another. Outside of the complex, we found the grateful owner mourning over the loss of her pet and holding the missing link of the chain.
“This day could not have gone better. You’re a good kid.”Mr. Hart told me at the end of the day. I finally felt like a true volunteered student.
It’s been about a year now and Mr. Hart is still moving strong. He refuses to let cancer take over his life. It gladdened me to see his amusement and it taught me a valuable lesson of life and its faults.





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