From Rosemary Smith....
RIP Jose ('Spanish').
I took this photo quite recently to do a blog post on promoting kindness (I never did).
Jose passed away on Sunday.
Many people will remember him as the sick man who sat begging outside Marina's Store. There were many who were kind to Jose and some that weren't. Jose was once a well-loved and respected member of the community. He was kind and always willing to help anyone in need. Before his battle with alcohol, he was healthy and full of vitality and enthusiasm for life. I have a memory of him walking all the way (18 miles) up the beach to our house to help my husband rebuild our little house after a hurricane knocked it down. Jose and Greg collected palmetto from the forest, found as much of the old lumbar as possible and dragged it back to the site, and together set about rebuilding the structure so important to us. Jose was spiritual and philosophical; a wonderful person to be around and have conversations with. I did not know Jose before 1996, but I love the stories of his life with Maggie and their positive impact on the lives of many on the island. It is too late now for people to look at him differently (more kindly?) after reading this, but perhaps next time you come across a beggar who triggers discomfort in you, just remember to be kind, especially because you may have no idea of his personal story and heartache.
Yesterday Greg shared a memory of Jose wanting to go on the sea turtle nest patrols with him. They found a nest and Jose ate one of the eggs (this was back in the days when sea turtle eggs were sold in the bars, and therefore a threat to the conservation of these endangered animals). Greg, the environmentalist was obviously horrified and angry with Jose. Now Greg of course can't help laughing about it because Jose was just such a character.
He was a good friend of Greg's in the early days, and Greg always stayed with Jose when he needed to overnight in town.
That time when Jose walked 18 miles to our house (about 20 years ago) he didn't carry anything with him, and of course was barefoot too. I asked him what he did about drinking water along the way. He replied that Oh he just finds it on the beach. I personally have only ever found bottles of dubious substances, like bottles of pee thrown overboard boats at sea
When I saw him on stilts, I used to think 'that could only be Jose!'
Imagine if all those kids who made fun of him, adults who were appalled and looked the other way, people who judged and thought unkind things....imagine if instead they knew of his once radiant beauty (inside and out), his heartache over losing his wife Maggie, and his numerous attempts at rehabilitation, perhaps he could have been treated with more understanding and compassion. However, there were indeed many people who did treat him with kindness, compassion and understanding. Besides, as humans we should treat everyone kindly, whether we know their past or not, and even when their past is not one to be admired or approved of. We also all have free will and our own individual souls know their own journeys in this lifetime.Eli Pearly
Remember him well since ‘89
Entertaining on stilts
Working to help others ...Mary Rodriguez
My mother always taught me to be as kind as possible, and ignore rudeness or perceived bad behavior from those less fortunate, as they are battling so much more than we could ever know. I never hesitated to get him a water or juice when he asked, and he was always polite in return. Even when he was beyond sauced and at his lowest - he had people who cared for him, cleaned him, took him to the clinic, and loved him. I hope, sincerely hope, he knew he was loved.