Friday, June 15, 2007

Remembering James Polk

On my way home today I was stopped by a familiar Real Change Vendor in a spot where another familiar face has been missing for a few weeks now. Before I had a chance to ask him where James has been (He is the guy we usually buy our Real Change paper from) he asked me, "Did you hear the news about James? He passed away. I just found out today."
I had not heard the news, and even though I was not surprised by it, the news weighed heavy on my heart.
James was a very kind man. He was one of those people that would always smile when you walked by. It could be raining and cold and he would still be cracking jokes!
I didn't know a lot about him. I only knew the sorts of things that the most casual acquaintances could know. I saw him in passing nearly every day and always stopped to talk at least for a minute.
I knew he loved orange juice and orange Popsicles were his favorite flavor. I knew he had very kind eyes and a sweet smile. He was always warm and welcoming. I knew he had been through some hard times in life and he was just like the rest of us, doing what he had to to get by.
I guess that isn't a lot if you really think about it, but it is what I knew.

Almost every day on my walk home from work he would say, "Well, you look nice today!" followed by, "You should tell your husband to take you on a vacation. Perhaps the Bahamas or Jamaica?"
Then he would point out the articles on the front cover and explain to me in his own way why he thought I should read them.
He was a simple fellow with an almost childlike quality to his speech, but he always sounded pleasant and happy. When we saw him outside, my daughter would always grab a dollar from me at the registar and run ahead of me to buy a paper.

My family became very attached to seeing him every day over the years, so whenever he would not be in his usual spot for a few days in a row we would become concerned. Even though he was a younger man and he always seemed chipper and happy you could tell by the yellow that was slowly darkening the whites of his eyes that he was not in the best health.

The last time I saw him was probably the last day he worked a few weeks back. He told me that he had been in the hospital and that he had been very sick, but he thinks he is doing better now. The light in his eyes that was normally there was not quite as bright as it usually was, and his voice was a little less cheerful, but he still smiled and he still told me "You should tell your husband to take you on a vacation!"

This is the Obituary that was in the Real Change paper this week:
This weekend brought sad news to Real Change, when we were told that one of our vendors, James Davis Polk, had died. The cause of death, according to his sister, Juanita Mae, was a liver ailment. He had been staying with a cousin in Tacoma, recovering from a stroke earlier this year when he died Sun., June 10.
Born April 14, 1961 in Hattiesburg, Miss., James only spent three months there, before his family moved to Seattle. From then on, this city was his home.

A popular vendor since 2001, who sold papers on Capitol Hill, at the QFC located on E. 15th Ave., James was beloved by customers for his sense of humor and winning smile. These traits were parlayed into one of his most endearing selling strategies: gently teasing potential buyers by referring to them as Bill Gates or Paul Allen.



Two going on twenty. Template by Ipietoon Cute Blog Design