My neighbor, Joyce, is to thank for getting Clara down to the Rescue Mission in Columbus, Georgia. A good Samaritan from her church agreed to take her.
"She's living on the loading dock behind the dollar store," I told Joyce.
"How can someone live like that?" Joyce asked.
"She needs some help sobering up and getting a ride to Columbus to stay at the Mission."
"Let me make some calls," Joyce said, hurrying inside to use the phone.
I busied myself cutting up a large pecan tree limb in Joyce's backyard only to return to Joyce saying that a person has agreed to take her this afternoon. I walked down with the details of the meeting to tell Clara.
"Somebody's gonna take me, just like that?" Clara asked with doe eyes.
"Get your stuff together. They are picking you up in front of the Korean restaurant at 5 PM. Time to make the evening influx at the Mission."
"Thank you," Clara told me with beer breath as she came over to give me a hug.
"I won't forget you. You take care of yourself," I replied with an air of sadness and also joy.
I solemnly walked up the road wondering what was in store for Clara. She was the only homeless person I knew of in the Valley. I almost envied her to be setting out for a new life and new environs. I crave the structure such an environment would bring -- my life being so willy nilly and haphazard. I will go to sleep tonight feeling resigned that what Clara did was a good thing and that she is in safe hands. Another chapter in the lives of "the gang" draws to a close.