Tag Archive | Beth LaRocca-Pitts
A Death in the Family
This past Sunday I shared with the congregation that one of our brothers had died. His body was discovered on our handicapped ramp where he often slept. There was nothing unusual about last Saturday night for him, as far as we can tell. When he and the others who sleep on the ramp went to sleep they said he seemed the same as ever. Only this time in the morning when everyone got up, he didn’t.
I shared his name incorrectly at 9am because at that time I wasn’t sure who it was who had died. By 11:15 it was clear that it was Red, also known as Mike, though most of us knew him as Colt 45 Man. It was cold Saturday night and Mike got his nickname because he drank one or two Colt 45’s pretty much every day and he had had a few on Saturday. Typically he would come by the handicapped ramp each day and drink one or two and toss the cans in the shrubbery. Often he would sleep on the ramp during the day, or in the doorway of the chapel where the sun is warm in the afternoon. Over the years that we have known him, Deana would invite him to come inside when it was cold. He would always decline. He was never rude or hostile to anyone. He always referred to you as “sir” or “ma’am” and he often wore camo. This made me wonder if he was a veteran but I have not confirmed whether he was or not.
When Torrence, another of our brothers who has been sleeping on the grounds of the church for years, said to me Monday “I hope his family is able to claim him”, I was moved to call the coroner and find out what they could tell me about this. I was told that his full name was Michael Sweeten. He had two brothers and a sister and a son. His sister in law told the coroner her husband had not seen him in years and gave the name of the other brother to see if he wanted to claim Mike’s body. I told the coroner that if no one in his family of origin came forth to claim him, we would claim him and see to his burial.
“The poor you will have with you always” said Jesus. Mike was with us for many years and would accept only the most simple form of hospitality from us – a private place to sleep, the sun on our steps in the afternoon. He wouldn’t come any farther inside the door. Perhaps he felt he was not worthy. We know how that feels. That’s why we will be the ones to claim him if others will not and I will tell Torrence his family came for him.
After the publication of the printed remarks I learned that Mike’s family has claimed his body. He will be buried in Hapeville in the next few days. God is good.
Yours as always,
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