True Story

Tribute to Mr Mayor

The bulldozers are there today
Removing every vestige of what was there before
The last big root of a tree, the few bits of concrete
Remaining from that block on which the container stood
A shipping container - MAERSK, it said, in blue letters
Soon even the fence will be gone
That fenced off that little world from the rest of the village
Where a man lived these almost ten years
A man tall and well-built and sporty
Once upon a time; with a job and a family
Reduced to living alone in a metal box
Without water or lights or central heating
Through the hot summers
And the long, icy cold, dark winters
An old man, white-haired, no longer able to move well
Shuffling along with his one crutch
To the edge of his plot, to tip his trash
And sewage, because he had no toilet
And up the long hill sometimes to the shop
Or down into the village to fetch water
In a plastic container, or gas for cooking
And heating, putting one foot in front
and dragging the other leg to catch up
Pulling along his wheeled shopping bag

I used to wonder how he spent his time
How he survived the cold and the heat
And the loneliness of his life
He was not lazy - he had a little 'business'
Selling 'BIO' - some kind of milky powder
In a can he advertised was for clearing drains
And helping compost to rot quickly
I bought some a few times -
He sold it at his gate with a big BIO sign
That's why we called him 'Old Man Bio'
But his name was Mr Mayor, when translated
And it made me chuckle, and cry
Because he was dignified in his own way
He was not a tramp, although he tramped
Up and down our village road
And how many people took note of him
I cannot say, but to me it seemed
By and large, he was invisible
To most.

In good times, we would see him
Thrashing his long grass, keeping his plot tidy
With a cloth tied around his head
Keeping one eye on his 'BIO' table
In case a car, somebody, might stop
And actually buy a can or two
And gradually he also sold off little things
That must once have been in
His original home
And he used to give me things
Little gifts of appreciation for my visits
And a few gifts I took over from time to time
Look! There's the little clay piglet he gave me once
And that is the massage roller
He wrapped up for me on another day
It's all I have left
To remind me

Once when I arrived he had a visitor
That was surprising
She was a nurse and she was dressing
His raw, gangrenous legs
Oh! What a sight!
I had brought him a couple of plants
And they seemed so pathetic
When I saw and smelled his
Putrefying flesh
The nurse was brave, must have wondered
Who I was
And what could I say?
A neighbour? A friend? Hardly
We used to communicate with difficulty
And my visits were infrequent
Though my conscience visited him
Several times daily, when I drove past
Stubborn old man
Wouldn't accept lifts to the shops
Or that I bring his water or gas for him
Wouldn't have been a bother
But he was proud, and he refused
Perhaps it was good
That struggle to survive kept him alive
But how it used to burn my heart

There was an ambulance there one day
Took him away
And it came again, so he was back for a while
But then the winter struck
And what a cold winter it was
And I noticed his crutch leaning on the doorpost
For days and then weeks it didn't move
And then I knew
That Mr Mayor, was no more
I had a twinkle of hope
That maybe one of his estranged daughters
Had taken him in
And looked after her father
But life is harsh and people are not kind
And I'm pretty sure that that poor man
Died alone in his little tin can house
Soon they'll be planting crops there
Or maybe even build a house
And there'll be no more trace
Of Mr Mayor

by Laurie Van der Hart

Comments (3)

A poignant write. Struggled life of Mr. Mayor has been touchingly inscribed. Some lines those touch me most are... Or that I bring his water or gas for him Wouldn't have been a bother But he was proud, and he refused Perhaps it was good That struggle to survive kept him alive But how it used to burn my heart... ..... .... ... And what a cold winter it was And I noticed his crutch leaning on the doorpost For days and then weeks it didn't move And then I knew That Mr Mayor, was no more. Thank u dear Laurie for posting this.
it's not an easy story to read, laurie- but i kept reading. and it reminds me of people i've seen here, people i've wondered about... you noticed. you wrote. and who but God sees through the tangle of relationships and choices that bring us to where we are? as rajnish said, poignant. -glen
How poignant! ! A nicely penned sketch of Mr Mayor is capable of evoking emotional reactions from the readers. Life of a man with a robust past but a modest later phase died unnoticed. Thanks. ........... wonder how he spent his time How he survived the cold and the heat And the loneliness of his life That struggle to survive kept him alive And then I knew.... That Mr Mayor, was no more