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“Christmas is for happy people with families. I am neither happy nor do I have a family. I don’t have anyone to bring me gifts or feed me hot food, so I try not to think about it.” – Edward GoodingBy Jeanna Pearson Edward Gooding stood in front of the building he once called home and broke into tears; he had just lost everything: his father, years of memories and the warmth of a bed. Standing in the cold night, he felt the air closing in on him as everything shattered in his face.Edward GoodingHis father had just died and the property was sold, split among his 10 siblings, all except him—the “handicap”, the outcast of the family, and soon to be forgotten. For a brief moment he thought of calling her, the one person who would understand, but quickly changed his mind.Twenty-plus years later and now 61 years old, Gooding still hasn’t called her; as a matter-of-fact he hasn’t touched a phone in years. Gooding is one of many elderly Guyanese living on the streets and spending this Christmas eating from places that the normal human being would throw up at just the thought of doing so. He doesn’t long for the pepperpot or the baked chicken, all he wants is a hot meal and a warm bed.Gooding lost both of his legs when he was 25 years old, just about the time he lost his job and his home. Born with a deformity in both legs, he underwent a surgery when he was 15 years old in Venezuela to straighten the bones but the surgery backfired and he spent another 10 years trying to fight against the inevitable—his legs had to go.I HAVE LEARNT TO ACCEPT WHAT PEOPLE GIVE ME Slumped over in a wheelchair, Gooding stated that he has spent the past decade accepting the reality of his situation and building a home on the pavement. “For 10 years I held onto my legs and when they cut it off it was the beginning of the end for me. I’m not a mad man or a junkie. I came from a collar and tie family. I didn’t lack anything,” he said.“Now I fall low and got to stretch my hands because I gone low. I don’t have a home to go to or anyone to take care of me. I don’t even have a child to my name. My first love was my last love…so what can you tell me? Life was never good to me…it only got worse,” he added.With most of his siblings living overseas, Gooding is usually alone every Christmas.“I have one sister here and she feeds me. She mixes my food like she is feeding a dog, but what can I do but accept it. See,Cheap Jordan Shoes For Sale, I have learnt to accept what people give me…that’s what we do when we have to stretch our hands,” he said.He stated that when a person passes another human being on a street without a glance, they not only condemn God but they condemn themselves. He said most persons are of the opinion that all homeless people are uneducated, senile, drunkards, when in fact most of them are there because of life circumstances.Gooding said Christmas is one day he never looks forward to these days; it is the only day in the year he hopes would pass like a blur. “Christmas is for happy people with families. I am neither happy nor do I have a family. I don’t have anyone to bring me gifts or feed me hot food, so I try not to think about it,” he said.He recalled several Christmases when his parents were alive. He stated that his mom used to decorate the house and cook all sorts of food on Christmas Day.“We had gifts and my father use to buy black ham and bake it for us. Those were the good times. Now whenever I think of Christmas I want to put a black bottle to my mouth and end it all.”A SHELTER IS NOT A HOMEAdministrator of the Night Shelter Sheila Veersammy stated that 90 per cent of the homeless population have relatives but they do not want to deal with the “old age” and the physiological handicap that their relative is suffering with.“That’s how the streets become the home of many. Sometimes it’s not the bad choices that places them there, but life itself,” she said, adding that most of the persons utilizing the shelter are a part of the mobile population. “They come in the afternoons and then leave in the mornings,” she explained.However, Gooding refuses to be taken to a shelter. “A shelter is not a home…it’s a place for homeless people. I don’t need to be reminded of my situation and which home would want to take care of an old man with no foot,” he stated.“This is my ending…I already accept that. The house was pulled from under my foot. I can’t build a foundation in a shelter or on a pave,” he lamented.However, one thing which nags at his heart is whether he should have contacted his girlfriend after he lost everything. It is the one thing that haunts him every Christmas. Where is she? What is she doing? Are some of the thoughts, he says, that cross his mind.He recalled that at 17 years old he fell in love with a girl from Trinidad and was preparing to “settle down” with her, but when his legs started to rot and his father died, his future with her immediately became bleak.“I knew I couldn’t do anything for her anymore, so I stopped calling. I didn’t have a reason to continue. I wanted to, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it,” he said, adding that after the property was sold, he lost all means to contact her.“Maybe it was my pride. I didn’t want to call her and say what happened. It didn’t make any sense…I couldn’t put her through that,” he said. “Life has been hard on me. But maybe she was the only good thing that ever happened,” he stated.Gooding lives in his wheelchair on the pavement in front of a pharmacy by La Penitence market. He has been begging there for years. He constantly repeats the phrase, “…all gone, God gone.”
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