One of our Ladle regulars is an older gentleman in his early seventies. He’s originally from the East Coast but has lived in California for decades. He tells me often about his time studying for the Catholic priesthood as a young man, his job as a schoolteacher, his beloved parents, and the time he met Katherine Hepburn when he was working at SeaWorld. Some weeks he stops by the church almost every day for a cup of coffee in the morning and some conversation.
He has good days and bad days. I wonder at what point in his life the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar began to set in and disrupt his life. I wonder what kinds of traumatic experiences he may have had that contributed to his mental disorders. I admire how he tries to maintain a semblance of normalcy and personal dignity; he always pays attention to his appearance and is proud of his academic vocabulary. And yet, I’m frustrated by how impossible it is to reason with him on his bad days.
He has no living parents or siblings. Never married, never had children. He’s alone in world, continually cycling through the revolving doors of hospitals, jail, psychiatric crisis centers…and First Presbyterian Church.
Despite his sometimes fragile grasp on reality, one thing he knows for certain is that he loves the Lord, and that the Lord loves him.
This church is a haven for him, and the closest thing he has to family. I haven’t seen him here for a few days now…and I’m missing coffee time.