From A Fathers Heart
by Dawn LeAnn
Dawn: Hi this is Dawn. I have an upcoming series that I will be talking about my experiences when I was homeless. And I wanted to reach out to my dad. During that time I hadn’t been communicating with him, and so I wanted to find out what his thoughts were, what he thought was going on with me when he hadn’t heard from me in a while.
Dad: Well you know, I knew you were in a relationship that wasn't really good for you and I also knew that you had been laid off, so I figured you just no longer had a phone and didn't even have access to a phone. I mean it happens it’s happened to me in the past. So I thought maybe that's what happened. I try not to just like go and start thinking about the very worst-case scenario and you know since we were living all the way up in Oraville at the time, every once in a while, I’d call people down in the valley and ask if they had seen or heard from you and things like that. A couple of times they said. ‘Well yeah we saw her and her guy walking downtown etc. etc’. That was pretty much the extent of it. And I would say well is everything OK? ‘Well couldn’t really tell just saw them walking down there’. And that was it. So I knew that you guys were still together but I really have a way of contacting you.
Dawn: After not having any contact with my family for quite some time, I reached out to my dad to let him know what was going on and it wasn't easy. And you know, it wasn’t easy for him either.
Dad: Wow….you know my first reaction I remember having, was that my my heart was broken when you told me you had been homeless. It's one of the very last things a parent wants to hear from their child. Aside from that, I remember being very confused and ashamed for not knowing. I should have known. I felt that if I would have known that I somehow would have found a way to help you. I think I also felt guilty you know, along those lines for not being in better communication with you and if I had been communicating with you better I would have known things were spiraling downward and that was perhaps something that might happen.
Dawn: You know a lot of times people have their different ideas and assumptions about people that are homeless, and I wanted to find out from my dad if his views and thoughts had changed once he had found out his own child had been homeless.
Dad: Yes they, I can't imagine how they how that couldn't happen with a person. I have always been one to help people in need. You know, especially the homeless. You know somebody who, I tell people I think you've probably seen me do that. But even though I’ve helped, I've also wondered to myself how many bridges must a person have to burn in order to become homeless. Where they can't even reach out to their own families, so what have they done to get themselves to that point. And I guess as much as I hate to admit it, I suppose that a certain amount of pride would rise up in me every once in a while, and think well geez it's never happened to me. You know instead of thing thankfulness I think that it was probably pride that was rising up in me and now I understand it because of what you've gone through I think a little bit better. I believe that often times a person who becomes homeless, down and out, destitute whatever you might want to call it, they are just too ashamed, to even let their own families know about the horrible circumstances that they’ve been going through that ultimately led them there and they just keep kinda holding out maybe onto a little bit of hope that things will change for themselves. But they are too ashamed to go to their families and say hey I'm homeless ‘you’re what? how did that happen?’ then they have to go through everything all over again with them. And again I think that it all boils down to communication and choices. You know, families need to communicate better, in a loving and non-judgmental manner, where anything can be put on the table and discussed in a calm, rational atmosphere. I think that if people can do that then they will be more aware of what's happening in their children's lives, even their adult children. You know nowadays, when I see a homeless person I always tell myself that and I’ve told this to your younger siblings as well, I am only one or two bad choices from being in the same position. So I think if nothing else it keeps me humble.
Dawn: It can be difficult, you know rehashing and bringing up some you know, dark parts of your life and talking you know about those things and before we got off the phone, I wanted to ask my dad if he had anything else he wanted to say.
Dad: Yeah, I think there probably is. You know I am just extremely proud of you Dawnie very, very proud of you and something that I have always marveled at from what you went through is how quickly and how well you have come back and you have come back with a force and you are a force to be reckoned with. You know you dug yourself up out of the pit and you’re making a wonderful life for yourself and I am very, very proud of that just wanted to say that.
Dad: And I love you.
Dawn: I love you too Dad. You know after talking to my dad you know and getting his perspective and everything, you know I think the thing I really want people to think about, is how when you see somebody that is homeless you don't know their story. That’s somebodys child, somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister, maybe somebody's parent. Maybe not be so quick to make assumptions or pass judgment.