Everyone's got a story.

I met Harold yesterday. He was sitting alone in his wheelchair outside of the public library in Downtown Cincinnati. A friend and I had been walking around taking a few photos and Harold noticed the camera around my neck.

"Are you gonna take my picture?" He said as I walked up.

I asked him if he really wanted me to and he said, "Oh yeah, yeah...take my picture!"

I snapped a photo of Harold and then my friend and I extended hands and introduced ourselves to him. He said his name was Harold, but I already knew that from the name badge he had proudly displayed on his mid-section. Harold was the resident of some sort of assisted living home...our conversation proved quickly that he wasn't there for a lack of mental capacity. He was sharp, quick-witted, well-spoken, and from what I could tell, entirely with it.

It was pretty easy to see that something wasn't right though. Aside from his physical disability, which we learned had something to do with a spinal disorder, he had an overwhelming sadness to his eyes. The kind of sadness that goes far deeper than a temporary smile could ever cover up. I'm not entirely sure how it happened but within a few short minutes Harold told us that he hadn't been out of prison for very long. He mentioned matter-of-factly that he was locked up for 35 years for an armed robbery charge and murder.

He didn't seem remorseful...not even nervous really. Harold just looked down at his chocolate bar, broke off a piece, popped it into his mouth and then offered us some. He said that he's addicted to chocolate.

Harold liked my tattoos and he began to show me the ink he got in prison. Somehow tattoos have a special way of connecting people to one another. He told us he loves the artwork and that we wouldn't believe how good some of those inkslingers are in prison. "I'm an artist myself" he said, telling us about his favorite mediums and whatnot.

Harold was lonely, and it was pretty obvious that he was excited to have someone to talk to. He had come to the library to get some music as he does every month or two. He was waiting for the bus to come and pick him up and we just happened to stop as he extended an invitation for conversation. I'm really glad we stopped to talk with Harold...How many Harolds do we pass up each day? We crave companionship.

A man named Leo Buscaglia once said "We need others. We need others to love and we need to be loved by them. There is no doubt that without it, we too, like the infant left alone, would cease to grow, cease to develop, choose madness and even death."

As we parted ways I had this incompleteness in me that felt like I should have done something more. That maybe we should have prayed for Harold or talked to him about God. I'm comforted by the fact that it doesn't have to be over though. He told us about the home where he lives and invited us to come and see him some time.

We might just have to do that.

11 waggish utterances thus far...:

Guitarist.J said...

this is an awesome post and some really cool pics

Holly said...

It was nice that you could show him the love of Jesus that lives in you without every mentioning God. There is power in that!...and by the way...you can still pray for him. (and probably already have)

Helen Ann said...

God is all over that. I don't think Harold was a random meeting. :)

Love the pics!

dlyn said...

Wow - I stumbled across your blog via your comment on PW's. I am so glad I did. Beautiful post and I will defintely be back to see what else you have around here :)

brody said...

Great Post.... amazing pictures too.

Jim Drake said...

Awesome pictures... composition and framing really help pull you in.

Thanks for sharing.. I'm marking your blog--I'll be back too.

Jenny said...

I really enjoyed this post. May I put a link to it on my blog?

Happy Father's Day!

Ryan Detzel said...

Thanks Jenny! Link it up!

Anonymous said...

Harold looks like my Dad, who passed away 13 years ago. I dreamed of him last night, and saw his face on your blog today.


Kimberly said...

Ryan, do you have any updates on Harold? I enjoyed reading this post.

Yes, we starve companionship. My husband was so concerned for me to have something to love after our kitty disappeared this past Spring that he found our puppy, Misa. He told me that I needed a fury child to care for and have companionship with. I didn't want another 4 legged child after India, my kitty, disappeared. I'm glad I have a new 4 legged child. She's a blessing. And so is having companions of the 2 legged kind.

Brad Ruggles said...

Dude, I just read this story for the first time. Man, what a powerful story! There are so many people like that all around us if we would just take the time to notice them.