In the seventies programs were funded to assist families out of poverty. What would have helped these folks was actual cash. But they got me.
The G family was a mother and her retarded adult son and daughter. Their house was a bug infested garbage dump with a stench so rank it was necessary to hold a handkerchief to the nose to keep from gagging. The smell memory stayed in my nostrils for years. I could call it up by thinking of the G's years later.
Inside the garbage and cans were sloped from floor to ceiling in a bank of refuse. Each week I would bring empty cardboard boxes for them to fill and leave for pickup at the curb. I thought George was capable of washing down the refrigerator. He proved he lacked the simple coordination needed to spray cleaner with the right hand while wiping down with the left. When I showed up next they had painted over the filthy refrigerator with indigo blue paint. Horrible! But they expected praise and got it.
They were all receiving disability and had acquired a color tv. The fellow who cashed their checks sold it to them some way. People get all upset when poor people have something expensive. I didn't have a color tv but didn't begrudge them theirs. The only thing else they were rich in were cats.
Mom G had leg ulcers and I noticed maggots swarming around in one. (Nowadays they use maggots to cleanse wounds but not in the seventies.) I arranged for a visiting nurse to come out and met her there on a Saturday. When she was rummaging around looking for a basin she opened the oven door and a cat leaped out. Suddenly it stopped being about maggots and became about cats. Mrs G said she was Christian Scientist and could not be having nurses meddling with her wounds. She ordered the nurse out.
My task then was to get rid of the cats. I could not get them to consider adopting them out to anyone but me. So my plan was to take a cat away and give it to the animal shelter. The first cat weighed 25 pounds and was vicious. They put him in a box for me but got worried he might batter his way out. Before I knew it the family piled in my car holding "Pinkie" tightly.
It was only 5 miles to new hubbies condo so I decided to drop the cat off there and take it to the shelter later. Once Pinkie got there he bolted out of the box and under the couch. When I finished for the day I mentioned to Dan there was a homeless cat under the couch that I couldn't dislodge. What was I thinking? He opened the front door, got the broom and in only one hour got the hissing cat out the door. We were only two blocks from a major interstate highway. If you were betting on Pinkie or an 18 wheeler, bet on Pinkie.
That Christmas I had some donated presents to drop off to the G's and decided to take my children, ages 8 and 10.I thought they should see the deplorable conditions some people live in so they might complain less about their own lot. As we handed over the presents I noticed fruit flies hovering over their heads and although the garbage piles had diminished the dreadful odor remained. The indigo blue refrigerator was smeared with filth.
When I asked later what they thought Son of Cloud said, "You gave them more presents than you gave me." Q said, "They seemed like such happy people."
We got a color tv and my job changed to counseling unmarried pregnant girls. The Christian Science G family sent me a greeting card every Easter until they were placed by some tidy do-gooder in separate nursing homes. I told them Pinkie ran away.